July 09, 2012, 4:19 PM — It wasnt so long ago that Chris Grant would regularly take a whole laboratorys worth of equipment with him into
the wilderness. These days, he just takes an iPad.
We navigate to some fairly remote locations that require hiking in. A two-mile one-way hike is not unheard of,
says Grant, a laboratory coordinator for Juniata
College in central Pennsylvania. During the summer, he leads teams of students into the states wilds to catch
fish in local creeks and test them for mercury content.
Such hikes used to require a number of different tools: a topography map, a handheld GPS unit, a camera, a
rangefinder, even a notebook to write down data. Now? The iPad does all of that for Grant, who utilizes apps like
GPS Status, River Reader, and Smart Ruler to find his way around and take
measurements in the field.
Its eliminated at least five different tools, Grant says. Just getting a camera out to take a picture while
youre processing a fish, with one hand on a notebook and the other on a camerawell, its all right there, in one
Since its introduction just a couple of years ago, the iPad has entered and started to transform many
professions, finding a place in classrooms, car dealerships, cockpits, and even construction sites.
Now its starting to transform the work of scientists, as well.
Scientists we spoke to say theyve found three main ways to use the iPad in their work.
Contrary to all of those old science-fiction films, laboratory research isnt done by haphazardly mixing
chemicals together and seeing what happens. Detailed protocols guide every experiment, protocols that serve as a
kind of recipe for researchers. Until recently, that meant that research scientists often found themselves arm-deep
in a library of notebooks to guide them.