A short trip, a huge achievement
As a computer scientist, my laboratory is my computer and my fieldwork is web surfing. But being a Plant.ID PhD fellow is a different story!
As a Plant.ID PhD student, I take trips to many different cities to visit different institutes, in order to expand my networking and also to collect the samples that I need for my project. One of these cities that I visited recently is Hamburg.
During the trip to Hamburg, I had a chance to visit the Thünen Institute. This institute is a German Federal Research Institute under the auspices of the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture. It was founded in 2008 from three previous agencies. The Thünen Institute comprises 14 institutes. One of them is Wood Research.
The Thünen Institute has a very well organized wood collection comprising over 37,000 specimens representing 12,000 species.
We were hosted by Dr. Gerald Koch (head of the division of quality of wood and wood products and the curator of the Scientific Wood Collection) and his lovely team. The most important thing that I need for my PhD project is the microscopic wood slides of different Diospyros species. I borrowed around 600 Diospyros wood slides from their slide collections, which can significantly increase my image dataset.
Another thing that can be helpful for me is the splinters of heartwood (inner part of the wood stem which is usually dark brown) to be investigated with DART-TOF MS (Direct Analysis in Real Time Time-Of-Flight Mass Spectrometry). With this method, which is a timber identification method, we can compare unknown species with the reference database by their chemical peak pattern (fingerprint). During this trip, I collected more than 120 wood splinter from different specimens.
Ebony wood (black wood) usually refers to some Diospyros species with a black, dark brown or streak heartwood. One of the advantages of this trip was visiting some non Diospyros black woods (false ebony) such as Hymenaea courbaril or Dalbergia melanoxylon. These species also should be considered in my ebony image recognition pipeline to avoid any false alarm!
After a 3-day trip and collecting many samples, visiting the beautiful Hamburg port, the mesmerising Hamburg Elbphilharmonie and the Hamburg city centre as well as the Bergedorf city centre, now I’m ready to work hard to prepare my Diospyros image database.