Monthly Archives: March 2008

My new friend Zotero…

Original video at: 

Got an email from Miss EQS the other day saying she was hip to a new research and bibliographic tool called Zotero. I ignored it. Then, bored at the CRSP, I decided to check it out and see what all the buzz is about. Zotero is crazy. It’s open-source EndNote on crack. You download it into the Firefox browser, and it expands into a three window menu that let’s users drag and drop citations, web-pages, journal articles, news, etc. into a categorized library that saves to your PC, letting you use it both on and off-line. Maybe the best feature: it incorporates traditional human research and note taking behavior, sticky-notes, highlights, margin notes etc., into it’s note taking application, then stores the notes/typed scribbles along with the bibliography right there for future reference, or for quick export into Word, Google Docs, or Open Office format. It’s genius. I like!


Week 1: Insemination

Wednesday the 13th….

I rode my bike to a meeting at the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center, and three hours later inherited a project initiating a water quality intervention field trial designed to increase access and availability of sanitary water to agro-pastoralist communities in the Ruaha Ecosystem, Tanzania. God Bless ‘Em.

I’m a bit overwhelmed actually. Two weeks ago I was neck-deep in a quantitative modeling project of an indigenous herbaceous fallow mixed cropping system located in Masvingo Province, Zimbabwe. There I was, locked into heavy equation building, trying to program Carbon Nitrogen ratios into my mass flow diagram and really drive maize productivity, when I realized I wasn’t very interested in the outcome. Damn. 6 months of brutal ecological modeling and applied theory in the old toolbox and no chance of using it.

Now, let me make one thing clear: I’m no friend to massacre and blood letting, but a project of ours in Kenya using point-of-use water treatment technology incorporated into a micro-enterprise model was doing just fine until January, when it was forced to halt operations due to post-election violence. So now I’m managing it’s would be clone in Tanzania.

When operations were suspended in the Kenyan Rift, the PI began talks with another project PI in Tanzania on regional similarities. They decided to meet up and discuss the feasibility of moving the Kenyan project to Ruaha, and a week later I arrive on bici for the meeting and get involved. Head explosion!

head explosion!

Image courtesy of Best Horror Movies:

It’s really not all that bad. My brain’s not bleeding, at least not yet….So far there’s good feelings between the PIs and research teams, general enthusiasm for the project, and no lack of challenges. There are the obvious funding and resource constraints, the fact that I’ve spent two years studying agricultural economics and soils, and now am working with civil engineering, water-borne pathogens, and business development, but hey. What else am I gonna do?

After the meeting I go back to the office feeling perfectly keen on the new developments, me a Project Manager, how nice! And I realize there’s a proposal deadline the next day. So I write like crazy and research all night and churn out a piece of work that’s attached right here, the Main Attraction. So come one, come all, and comment, cause I know I will when I finally have time to plan this monster out, and then destroy my method, my time-line, and especially my budget, which in less than a week has escalated from $15K to a whopping $100K.

The best part: I’ll be on moto in the field, or piki piki as they say…. Now I just have to learn Swahili, find $80K, and read for the next three months, all while taking 15 credits and working 20 hours a week. Breezy… We love grad school.

Baby’s first Proposal…

Didn’t see this coming, but it came nonetheless. Here’s the initial POU-Ruaha proposal, and it’s definitely not a keeper! I expect to revise this at least ten times in the next three months alone, and probably just scrap it altogether and start over at some point….


Point-of-use treatment system and micro-enterprise development to improve drinking water quality for agro-pastoralist households and livestock in the Ruaha Ecosystem, Tanzania


The Great Ruaha River and its tributaries are the key water sources for wildlife, livestock, and domestic use. Water quality in the Ruaha river system has been significantly impacted through the combination of reduced flow and environmental contamination. The proximal coexistence of people, livestock, and wildlife provides conditions favorable for transmission of viral, bacterial, and parasitic disease agents. Increasing access and availability of a sanitary water supply may result in improved health and quality of life for people in the Ruaha ecosystem. The demand for cleaner water in the Ruaha communities, combined with poor water storage practices and little awareness of effective low-cost methods of in-home water treatment, enables this research to actively address rural sanitation and water quality issues in the area. The POU-Ruaha Project will investigate disease incidence in the Ruaha region, concentrating on the development and adaptation of BioSand filtration technology for a point-of-use (POU) water quality intervention in the area, and establishing a field trial among high-risk agro-pastoral households to assess the impact of improved water quality for household uses on disease incidence in both people and their livestock. The project will also assess the development of a micro-enterprise model to drive production and marketing of the filters, and ensure the sustainability of the POU BSF system.

Map courtesy of World Tours Safari:

Ruaha Map