PhotosynQ Focus

Focusing on how the community is using PhotosynQ technologies. This month we are highlighting Matthew Daniel, an Arborist from Australia and one of PhotosynQ’s most active users.

matthew

Matthew is the director of Tree Preservation Australia and CEO of Global Urban Forest Pty Ltd, a company dedicated to the relationship between soil and tree health and the science of urban forestry. He travels to many cities in Australia and abroad collecting data on tree and soil health and prescribing proper health care programs to ensure that cities have happy, healthy trees. These prescriptions include compost tea’s, deep root soil injections, and vascular stem injections of specially formulated microbial plant and soil health inoculants and organic stimulants. However, his job was limited by the lack of affordable tools and the ability to share data and results with others.

How Matthew Connected with PhotosynQ

Matthew Daniel was born and raised in Tasmania, where he first developed his interest in trees and the outdoors in general. We asked him what his first memories with trees were and he told us “When I was 5 years old my uncle found me 40 feet up a tree, freaked my mum out”, no doubt this guy was destined to climb trees for a living! He would eventually receive training and certifications for arboriculture, working near high voltage power lines and in confined spaces, become a partner in Tree Preservation Australia and eventually founded Global Urban Forest Pty Ltd.

From the moment he first heard about PhotosynQ he knew “it was exactly what I needed to understand the tree health response to soil health intervention.” He has now completely integrated the PhotosynQ platform into his workflow saying “I use PhotosynQ before, during and after all the trees I work with.” That is a lot of trees!

He successfully applied to be a PhotosynQ beta tester and created his main project tree health calculator – Beta/Experts Program – 2015-2017, which has over 8,000 data points. Matthew recently received the new MultispeQ v1.0 and is working hard to build collaborations with community groups across Australia.

Now What?

Ultimately, Matthew wants to use PhotosynQ as “an international collaborative platform to be a major part in quantifying and mitigating climate change.” Matthew believes that a global arborist community that shares data on a common, open platform can do more than improve the health of individual urban trees. It can also help to mitigate one of the causative factors of the Urban Heat Island Effect, namely a lack of vegetation in cities. Lack of vegetation in cities decreases levels of both evapotranspiration and carbon dioxide removal. It has been observed over the last century that cities are significantly warmer than the rural areas that surround them. The UHI effect affects many areas of life, such as the weather, health and the environment. It will increase the production of rain clouds and thunder over your city, make you more prone to violence during heat waves, increase your electricity bill, and even kill off fish in lakes and streams just outside your city if mitigation processes are not undertaken. By going around Australian cities and learning about the trees that are present, Matthew and a global arborist community can learn which trees are most effective at mitigating the UHI effect and make your city a more enjoyable environment.

He knows this will not be easy, but it’s the potential that is driving Matthew. The potential to build a global arborist community that can collect data for cities that they can then utilize to manage their urban tree population, the potential to reduce the urban heat island effect, and finally, the potential to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Thank you to Matthew Daniel for allowing us to write about him and taking the time to answer all our questions. Hope to see you back in the US soon!

 

PhotosynQ co-founder highlighted at MSU

The PhotosynQ project started in David Kramers lab at Michigan State University, but it is by far not the only project, that is devoted to gain a deeper understanding into how plants do photosynthesis and how it is regulated. See what else is developed in this lab to study plant photosynthesis, all with the ultimate […]

PhotosynQ Focus

Now that the MultispeQ v1.0 instruments are released, we want to share some stories of how the community is using PhotosynQ technolgies. Today we want to focus on Isaac Osei-Bonsu from Ghana, currently a PhD student in the Kramer Lab at Michigan State University.

 

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Isaac Osei-Bonsu has been a PhotosynQ user since the early beta days in 2015. Over that time, he has collected over 13,000 measurements and created 46 PhotosynQ projects. As we worked towards releasing the new instruments, Isaac was often tasked with testing out new MultispeQ prototypes, and some iterations did not work so well! At the end of the day, Isaac collected over 3,000 measurements with MultispeQ v1.0 prototypes and his feedback helped us to modify and improve the MultispeQ throughout the design and manufacturing process.

Isaac’s background

Isaac hails from the west African nation of Ghana, where he was a research scientist for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research-Crops Research Institute (CSIR-CRI). In Isaac’s own words, “The company is a National Agricultural Research institution which focuses on research on different crop species with the aim to improve agriculture in Ghana.” He studied a wide variety of crops including cowpea, peanut, pepper, eggplants, citrus, mangoes, avocado, pear, papaya and watermelon.

Ghana, like many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, is struggling to achieve food security and develop a robust economy. This means that the government wants farmers to produce more high value crops, like cocoa, for international markets. However, this comes at the expense of land for growing food crops, which is why it is so important to improve the productivity and efficiency of important food crops.

What Isaac is doing now

Isaac arrived at MSU with the help of a Legume Scholars Award which he received from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) in 2015. The Legume Scholars Program supports the graduate study of young scientists from developing countries so they can pursue research careers involving grain legumes  (http://legumelab.msu.edu/training/legume_scholars).

Isaac’s is studying the photosynthetic response of  grain legumes to abiotic stress in order to improve grain legume production. His interest with automatic plant phenotyping was piqued “by the simple yet powerful nature of the MultispeQ device, connected to the PhotosynQ platform, and its possible use for rapid phenotyping in the field.” Manual phenotyping can be extremely slow and not entirely accurate. The MultispeQ instrument and the PhotosynQ platform make it easy and quick. He now uses the MultispeQ in most of his experiments. He doesn’t just use PhotosynQ because it is easier, but also because it allows him to develop a deeper understanding of abiotic stress responses in grain legumes.

Thank you to Isaac for taking some time out of your busy days to answer all of our questions. Having Isaac around our lab is a pleasure and his input into the PhotosynQ platform and MultispeQ instruments have been invaluable. We hope our instruments can help him as much as he has helped us and wish him luck in his continued research.

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Goodbye Flot, Hello Plotly | Other Website Updates

Our most recent website update probably got lost in the excitement about the news that we had started shipping the new MultispeQ v1.0. We have continued to work on the tutorials and data analysis and are happy to announce another update to https://photosynq.org. There are several libraries out there to graph data in the browser and when we started the platform, we decided to use Flot, a great, performance library, which is unfortunately no longer actively developed. Implementing new methods of plotting would have required us to build certain features from scratch. Instead we are now using Plot.ly which opened up its libraries to the public. It not only provides the library, but also its own platform to create and manipulate plots, as well as libraries for popular languages like Python or R. We would like to give you a quick update on what has changed and improved.

New and Improved Tutorials

While some people really like using YouTube videos to learn new technologies, others don’t find them very helpful. So, we updated the tutorials (available in the learn more menu from the top of the page) to include text pages that include step by step directions, pictures and screen caps to get you started with PhotosynQ. Also, you can now download a Getting Started manual in pdf form if you need to refer to the tutorials while working offline! We kept the the video’s for those you like them, you can find them in their own videos tab on the tutorials page.

New Plot Options

Scatter plots are a great way of looking at data down to individual measurements. At the same time it can be hard to see trends in a big cloud of points. We hope these new plotting options will help analyzing your data.

Contour Plots

Contour plot with additional histograms.
Contour plot with additional histograms.

The 2D contour plot allows you to do exactly that. With additional histograms they are a great way to visualize populations within a big data set.

Histograms

2D histogram using the Jet color gradient
2D histogram using the Jet color gradient

In addition to the already existing histograms, you can now plot two parameters as a 2D histogram.

Box Plots

Box plots with all data points.
Box plots with all data points.

Box plots are available now. Like the bar charts, you can use a category as well.

New Parameter – Time of Day

We added the parameter Time of Day, showing the time, when the measurement was recorded as a number (e.g. 1:30 pm = 13.5). This will be helpful to plot time dependent trends, which could not be visualized using a regular timescale, which could be the case when measurements were recorded over multiple days.

New Data Selection and Plot Capturing

With the new ways to plot data comes the ability to select a set of data points in a scatter plot using the box or lasso selection. It can be used to generate a selection based Series, or the data can be saved with the measurement identifiers as well as the meta data including time and the project questions and answers. The little camera icon enables you to save the current graph as an image (png or jpeg), including the graphs’ legend.

Selecting data points using the lasso tool.
Selecting data points using the lasso tool.

Using Python and R

Analyzing big datasets using the data viewer inside the browser might be difficult. Or you might want to do your own statistical analysis or plot the data in a way that is not available. For this reason we made packages for Python and R to help you get the most out of your data.

Go to https://photosynq.org/software to find the links to the packages and how to use them.
The tutorial section (https://photosynq.org/tutorials) has some examples for Python and R on how to get your data analysis started.

And There is more to Discover…

  • On your user page, you can now see your Network. Your Network includes people who collaborate with you and have joined one or more of your Projects, as well as all Project Leads of projects you have joined.
  • Tags and Project Categories are now displayed on your user page.
  • Tags are now links and can be searched. Just click on a tab or type your tag into the search field (e.g. #beans).

What’s No Longer Available

  1. Plots – We said goodbye to a few features, because there was no good way of adding it to the new plotting library or the available options didn’t turn out to be all that useful.
    • The options of plotting spline lines and area charts.
    • “Time (normalized)” is no longer available. It got replaced by the parameter “Time of Day”
  2. Dashboard – To make the dashboard a little easier we decided to remove the following options.
    • The Panel with a pie chart of total submitted and flagged. The totals are added to the other data quality panels.

We hope that these new features will help you to analyze your collected data.

~ Sebastian

Teachers Workshop at Kellogg Biological Station

I traveled to the MSU K-12 Partnership 2017 Spring Workshop at the Kellogg Biological Station on April 18 with Klara Schnargl. Klara is a Future Academic Scholars in Teaching fellow and she is interested in strengthening the connections between Universities and K-12 education programs. The purpose of the program on this day was to bring graduate students and postdocs from MSU together with middle and high school biology teachers.

Klara and I were going to run a session for teachers who were interested in new, hands on, methods of teaching kids about photosynthesis. We thought that the MultispeQ instrument, combined with the ease of generating simple graphs on the PhotosynQ platform, could be a great way for students to visualize how plants use the light energy they capture and how they respond and regulate photosynthesis in response to their environment.

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We conducted a really simple experiment with the teachers so they could see PhotosynQ in action. Klara brought along two orchids in small pots and it was a beautiful, sunny spring day. So, we quickly created a project (‘KBS educational module April, 2017’) on www.photosynq.org that asked which session (we had one morning and one afternoon session) was collecting data and whether the plant was inside or outside (2 minutes). Then, after a brief talk about how to connect your phone to the MultispeQ and how to take a quality measurement (4 minutes) the teachers collected some measurements from the orchids in the classroom (5 minutes). Next, we took our orchids out into the sunshine and gave them time to adjust to their new surroundings (2 minutes). After a few more MultispeQ measurements we were heading back into the classroom to check out our data (5 minutes). We logged on to our PhotosynQ project and created a couple of graphs to compare Phi2, PhiNPQ, PhiNO and LEF inside and outside (4 minutes).

In 22 minutes we went from ‘this is MultispeQ’ to ‘look how our orchids regulated incoming light in our experiment.’

The teachers that came to our session were great, with lots of fun ideas on how they could use PhotosynQ in their classrooms and we are looking forward to working with them in the future.

MultispeQs on track to ship

Hi everyone – we’ve had 3 days of production with a pace of 24 finished, boxed, ready to ship units per day!  We should be able to fill the first 200 units over the course of the next 2 – 3 weeks.  With a few exceptions, we will be shipping MultispeQs in the order they were received.

Thank you all for your immense patience as we have worked through this long process.

On a personal note, this is my last week as part of the PhotosynQ project.  My hope is that the project continues to strive for the values of open software, hardware, and data in science, and to create tools which are broadly useful to the both the scientific and non-scientific communities.  I know that these ideals are sometimes hard to hit, but if not us then who, and if not now then when?

Thanks to everyone that I’ve interacted with over the years for your patience, enthusiasm, support, and collaboration.  In the future I’ll be on google plus +GregAustic and twitter @GregAustic.   Hope to see you in my next project!

– Greg