Summer Research Experience: Student Blog

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Spotlight on Summer Students

February 14, 2014, by Clarisse Hart

Every winter, we stop to recognize recent Summer Research Program students for the incredible strides they have made using their summer data.

Many students co-authored papers in 2013-2014 with their summer mentors: Read more > about Spotlight on Summer Students

Alumni profile: Where are you now?

August 6, 2013

Brady Hardiman

Summer Research Program '03

Mentor: Julian Hadley

Project: Photosynthetic rates of Betula lenta: Effects on canopy carbon storage rates in a changing environment

College and major: Ashland, Ohio Biology/Chemistry-2003 Read more > about Alumni profile: Where are you now?

Students' summer in pictures

August 6, 2013

Congratulations Summer Research Program Students of 2013!  This group conducted great research, withstood equipment malfunctions and other "that's research" delays admirably, and finally presented well-crafted presentations with poise at the 21st annual Student Research Symposium. Read more > about Students' summer in pictures

You down with DDG?

August 2, 2013, by Shaylyn Adams
Shaylyn Adams and Vasco Carinhas

"Ooh you're working at the Harvard Forest, that's cool, right?! You get to swing from trees, work on your tan, get some exercise and play with chipmunks, right?!" Well, actually, wrong (and I'm sure most field work is not that glorious). Instead of building tree forts and befriending Bambi, my job at the Harvard Forest takes place pretty much completely inside (and with the deer flies this season, that's the way I like it). Not that I don't sweat; it gets fairly hot inside the Shaler building dining hall where there is no central AC. Read more > about You down with DDG?

Alumni profile: Where are you now?

August 1, 2013

Moussa Bakari

Summer Research Program '11

Mentor: Jim Tang

Project: Soil Carbon Dynamics at Harvard Forest

College and major: Lincoln University, Environmental Science and GIS. 2010. Read more > about Alumni profile: Where are you now?

Wool-wearing villains

July 31, 2013, by Justin Vendettuoli
Justin Vendettuoli

Clashing, crashing, smashing--the once hearty hemlock heaves its now crippled form to the forest floor. What brings this mighty tree to its knees? Was it the axe man, his barrel chest booming with each thunderous blow? Was it the furious gusts of a gale going through the eastern hemlock stand, singing songs of sorrow?
Read more > about Wool-wearing villains

A thousand little blank puzzle pieces

July 30, 2013, by Lake Boddicker
One of the aerial tram's sensors.

For the past two months I have been working on building an aerial tram with my two great teammates Devin Carroll and Faith Neff. This consisted of me sitting in front of a computer, occasionally graced by the presence of a sensor and motor, wondering why nothing was working. I think that I have gotten more of a tan from the computer screen than the actual sun. As I so found out, however, things did work, just slowly. But bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece things came together like a thousand little blank puzzle pieces. Read more > about A thousand little blank puzzle pieces

Alumni profile: Where are you now?

July 29, 2013

Brynne Simmons

Summer Research Program '06

Mentor: Audrey Barker-Plotkin

Project: Where Seedlings and Saplings Prefer to Grow Read more > about Alumni profile: Where are you now?

Exit the matrix

July 26, 2013, by Vasco A. Carinhas

There is life outside the Matrix. We, as computer scientists, sometimes tend to forget that. However, Harvard Forest makes sure we are reminded on a daily basis. Besides our trampling through the fascinating virtual world that is created through coding, we are thrust into the world that already surrounds us as part of our summer internship experience. Read more > about Exit the matrix

Alumni profile: Where are you now?

July 24, 2013

Linn Jennings

Summer Research Program '11

Mentors: Kristina Stinson and Sydne Record

Project: A Demographic Study of Ambrosia artemisiifolia (Ragweed) Across a Rural to Urban Gradient in Massachusetts

Hometown: Santa Barbara, California Read more > about Alumni profile: Where are you now?

Did plants get that climate change memo?

July 22, 2013, by Guillermo Terrazas
Guillermo Terrazas

I open my sleepy eyes; it is 5 am and my hand cannot make it to the alarm clock before the voices in my head start telling me that it is too early to wake up. I take a deep breath, put my feet on the cold floor and get ready. I stare out the window trying not to fall asleep as I wait for my ride. I see lights coming down the road and head downstairs pretending I am a ninja, trying not to wake the other residents. Read more > about Did plants get that climate change memo?

Your mind has just been BLOWN!

July 19, 2013, by Johanna Recalde Quishpe
Rebecca Walker, Johanna Recalde Quishpe, and Justine Kaseman

I think we can all agree that the moment when you learn a new fact that has you rethinking your entire life is one of the best feelings. Am I right or am I right? Well, this summer I was fortunate enough to spend 11 weeks with the smartest and most interesting group of kids (not really kids, but not really adults either) in the middle of a beautiful forest. Here's a recount of some of the new things we've learned: Read more > about Your mind has just been BLOWN!

Alumni profile: Where are you now?

July 18, 2013

Lawren Sack

Summer Research Program

Project: Posion Ivy

Hometown: Western Mass Read more > about Alumni profile: Where are you now?

Bonded

July 17, 2013, by Leah Nothnagel

As we near the end of summer and everything is getting hectic and crazy; it's starting to feel surreal that in a few short weeks I'm going to be back home living my normal life. It's a bittersweet feeling; while I'm sure everyone here is like myself and misses their friends and family, the idea of us not all being together as a group is kind of heartbreaking. There is a bond formed with all the REU students, but there's more than that. There's a bond with the houses, with the research partners, with the roommates.... Read more > about Bonded

Alumni profile: Where are you now?

July 16, 2013
Roxanne Ardershiri

Roxanne Ardeshiri

Summer Research Program '10

Mentor: Benjamin Baiser

Project: Community Ecology of "Sarracenia pupurea" Pitcher Plants

College and major: UC Berkeley, Class of 2012 Molecular Environmental Biology B.S. Read more > about Alumni profile: Where are you now?

Land use cartography 101

July 15, 2013, by George Andrews
George Andrews and Dave Kittredge

Polygons, polygons, and more polygons. These little and simple digital shapes may seem mundane, but to a geographer they contain a plethora of information when you place them on a map. I've been spending my summer creating these polygons, and have slowly turned into a budding cartographer. Read more > about Land use cartography 101

The smell of the future

July 12, 2013, by Angus R. Chen
Justine Kaseman and Angus Chen

Justine handles the Li-COR. We walk up a forest road, all dust and shallow braids cut by decades of rain. Clouds are marshaling in the west, promising of another of these torrents that are so frequent and so sudden in these parts. The Li-COR stretching Justine's arms to the earth is what we might call hydrophobic, a piece of electronic equipment worth its weight in newborn babies. Read more > about The smell of the future

Alumni profile: Where are you now?

July 11, 2013
Sarah Pears Boswell

Sarah Pears Boswell

Summer Research Program '02

Mentors: Steve Wofsy; David Bryant; Lucy Hutyra

Project: Stand Response to Inundation

Hometown: Pennsylvania

College and major: Dickinson College, Environmental Science 2004 Read more > about Alumni profile: Where are you now?

Global warming in a plastic bucket

July 10, 2013, by Justine Kaseman
The elusive red backed salamander.

This summer at Harvard Forest, I am researching the top down effects of vertebrates on the ecosystem. We are using warming chambers which are about 10 feet in diameter and are heated up from 0 degrees to 5.5 degrees celcius over ambient temperature. For our experiment, we have created 3 mesocosms, which are like tiny environments in five gallon buckets. Each mesocosm has leaves, a rock, and some treatment. The treatments are as follows: Read more > about Global warming in a plastic bucket

This internship is painfully funny

July 8, 2013, by Lowell Chamberlain
Lowell Chamberlain

My summer internship at Harvard Forest has been SUPER DUPER interesting. I started this summer with a personal goal: to develop a better understanding of how science is practiced. Simple right? NO, Wrong wrong wrong! This objective has led me through funny, painful, and stressful events that so far have constructed an outrageous collage of wild summer experiences! Read more > about This internship is painfully funny

Alumni profile: Where are you now?

July 5, 2013
Amy Churchill

Amy Churchill

Summer Research Program '07

Mentor: Missy Holbrook

Project: Consequences of Fertile/Sterile Leaf Dimorphism in Ferns

Hometown: Auburn, ME

College and major: Stonehill College in Environmental Studies and Biology, 2008 Read more > about Alumni profile: Where are you now?

Processing tree cores and other forest adventures

July 3, 2013, by Pat O'Hara
An increment borer used for tree coring.

When I was in the third grade our recess was cancelled because there was a rogue cow on our playground; in middle school, I learned of trail running as an escape from essentially anything; my high school years consisted of my friends and I drooling over pickup trucks and then eventually getting our own; and when I finally moved to school in Cambridge in the fall, my best friends, quite brashly (but playfully...), took pleasure in labeling me as some hillbilly who somehow slipped by admissions officers. Read more > about Processing tree cores and other forest adventures

Finding the hay in a needle stack

July 1, 2013, by Rebecca Walker
Blackberries

Picture yourself strolling through a pristine, forest wilderness. You might imagine yourself surrounded by towering oaks or ash trees with powerful trunks that could be centuries old, under a dense umbrella of endless, green canopy. In the emerald shade created by the curtain of leaves above you, the air is cool and filled with the chirping of birds that make themselves at home in the woods. You might imagine that, as a forest ecologist, my summer at the Harvard Forest is spent working somewhere like this. You would, however, be very incorrect. Read more > about Finding the hay in a needle stack

Where the edible wild plants are

June 28, 2013, by Mónica M. Allende Quirós
Monica Allende Quiros smells a Sarsparilla Root

My eyes automatically opened and, as my internal alarm clock rang, I reached for the desk near my bed to pick up my cellphone to check the time. 5:27 AM. I beat my alarm by three minutes. I considered going back to sleep.

It is Sunday, June 23, 2013 and I have been at Harvard Forest for 36 days. This room is starting to feel like my room. So, you may ask yourselves, what am I doing up at 5:30 AM on a Sunday if I don't have to work? Today, we are going to a class about the edible wild plants of New England. Read more > about Where the edible wild plants are

The slugs are trap happy, but where are the rodents?

June 26, 2013, by Amy Balint
My research team!

The past few weeks have had one thing in common:  line after line of empty traps.  This summer, I'm studying rodents and other small mammals to find out what happens to them when eastern hemlock forests die off due to an invasive insect called the hemlock woolly adelgid.  To determine which species are present and estimate their population sizes, fellow REU student James and I have been heading out to the forest in the evenings to set traps for them.  The traps are Sherman live traps, which we bait with sunflower seeds and organic cotton wool.  Read more > about The slugs are trap happy, but where are the rodents?

3 lessons REU taught me

June 21, 2013, by Christine Pardo
Thumbs up for science!

When I made my way from Florida to Massachusetts this past May, I made the awesome realization that I was living in Peters-HAM and not Peter-SHAM. I had been saying that wrong since February. Since then, I have learned far more at Harvard Forest in just one month (besides the proper New England-style pronunciation of random small towns) than I can begin to explain. So I present to you three of the many lessons learned during my time here, which I hope provides some insight into the life and mind of an REU student researcher. Read more > about 3 lessons REU taught me

Quick! Identify this fern!

June 18, 2013, by Sophie Bandurski
Sophie Bandurski measuring a cinnamon fern in one of the plots using the Li-Cor

Walking into the forest, I never imagined it was comparable to a human body. There are processes occurring constantly that can be both seen and heard, such as birds singing in the trees or spiders spinning webs between the trees. And then there are the ones you cannot see or hear, such as photosynthesis and respiration. My job this summer is to take notice of some of these unseen activities in order to gain a better understanding of the understory, or the plants that sprinkle the forest floor, to assess how their presence affects northern latitude forests. Read more > about Quick! Identify this fern!

Let's build a robot!

June 14, 2013, by Devin Carroll
Image courtesy of http://www.industryleadersmagazine.com

When people hear the word robot they probably think of something like the photo below, a humanoid machine that acts like a person, but is smarter and stronger in nearly every way; robots that are self-aware and may be preparing to rise up against their creators. Read more > about Let's build a robot!

An insider's view of the natural history museum

June 11, 2013, by Faith Neff
A fish

Down in the depths of the Natural History Museum we tread. Here in this tight room, alongside 1.4 million dried and jarred fish samples, we learn about the importance of sample databases. When someone discovers a new species, they first have to go to places like the Natural History Museum to make sure it has not been found already. Nowadays we also use DNA testing to make sure that the discovery is valid. Once it has been established that the species is something new, a specimen sample is kept at the museum in case there is any dispute later down the line. Read more > about An insider's view of the natural history museum

Snapshots from a forest: Comparing 1937, 1992 and 2013

June 11, 2013, by Hannah Wiesner
Pat O'Hara measures this tree's DBH, or diameter at breast height.

Laying out two tape measures to create a 22.5m x 22.5m square, my first field exercise this summer took place not within the Harvard Forest’s 3,500 acres, but instead on the lawn behind a residential cabin. We were learning to use a compass to place a stake at the NE, NW, SE and SW corners of the square, which is much easier to do in a yard where the only obstacles between you and your partner are inch-long blades of grass and not trees several meters in height. Read more > about Snapshots from a forest: Comparing 1937, 1992 and 2013

Wandering alone in a forest

June 11, 2013, by Channing Press
Channing Press at work on the daily grind.

I understand why, for most people, wandering about all alone in a forest, measuring over 1000 pieces of dead wood might not seem like the ideal college summer break. However, just when I think I am going to die from inhaling too much bug spray for fear of Lyme-disease-ridden-ticks and pesky Mosquitos, a little orange newt will stumble quite charmingly, trying to climb on the log I am measuring or a bird will sing a special song to me and I will remember just how cool my job is. Suddenly, a smile will appear on my face and a feeling of overall peace and beauty will rush through my bones. Read more > about Wandering alone in a forest

Boston's a pretty hot town, or at least the trees think so

June 10, 2013, by David Miller
David Miller

Once again, I find myself wondering why this slope is so steep. The curve shows the approximate date that autumn begins relative to distance from downtown Boston, and the results are mind-boggling. I look over to my research partner, Memo Terrazas, from the University of Texas at Austin. "Fall starts half a day later per kilometer into the city... that can't be right." This is incredible. Read more > about Boston's a pretty hot town, or at least the trees think so

The water project

June 7, 2013, by James Lietner

I walk 20 steps to get a glass of clean, clear water. Not everyone is this lucky. Some people walk over 3 miles to get dirty water that is filled with diseases and harmful, heavy metals. During this long walk, women carry over 45lbs of water and risk being attacked by soldiers or wild animals. Mostly women or young children are responsible for obtaining this dirty water; as a result, children miss school and the opportunity for a proper education. Read more > about The water project

What do we care about more? Biodiversity or old trees?

June 7, 2013, by James Leitner
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

I hear my alarm go off, 3:45am uhhhh. Time to get up and check the traps to see if we caught any rodents. My research project is seeing how the declines of the hemlock trees are affecting the amount of small rodent species like mice, shrews, voles, and flying squirrels. And yes, they are all adorable. Read more > about What do we care about more? Biodiversity or old trees?

Time lapse photography goes underground

June 5, 2013, by Arline Gould
A close-up of our non-waterproof Minirhizotron

We rarely give much thought to what goes on beneath our feet. Even those of us who enjoy outdoor activities spend considerable amounts of money on shielding our soles from the earth upon which we walk. So much of what we know and experience pertains only to aboveground settings. Plants, on the other hand, derive much of their livelihood from the soil on which most of us are content merely to tread. Read more > about Time lapse photography goes underground

Trees on fire

June 4, 2013, by Dmitri Ilushin
Yeah, I'm the goof who messed up on crossing his arms.


Kenya? Been there. Japan? Seen that. Michigan highway I-96? Saw that last week. The best part is that I can do all this without leaving the comfort of my computer. Read more > about Trees on fire

Orientation: Science, homework, and friends! Oh my!

June 3, 2013, by Trynn Sylvester
Devin Carroll and Faith Neff in a hemlock canopy

"Twenty-four of twenty-six students settled into Harvard Forest on May 19 and 20. After a long Spring Semester, these dedicated and aspiring scientists are committing themselves to learn about lab safety, to memorize a new set of forest trails, to conduct research, to produce academic writing, and to deliver presentations for the next 11 weeks. Come July 31 and August 1, scientists and participants' families with gather to listen to each student present on his or her summer research at the annual Symposium..."

Spotlight on summer students

October 1, 2012

Just a few of the many accomplishments by Harvard Forest summer students past and present: Read more > about Spotlight on summer students

The blog of an ecologist dog

August 10, 2012, by Snickers

This summer, my mom takes me to work with her. She is a "research mentor," whatever that means. We go to Harvard Forest several times a week. I am very excited about going there because I am never alone. I usually stay by the table where my mom works and people come to pat me from time to time. Read more > about The blog of an ecologist dog

Trees and bugs in computers

August 10, 2012, by Yujia Zhou

Scientists often rely on sensors to collect data. However, sensors can go wrong due to various surprising yet possible reasons. Have you ever thought, what you would do if you lost a couple of hours’ data because a lightning destroyed the sensor? Also, your sensor may freeze during winter time due to low temperature. Moreover, certain sensors require calibration every year because of inexorable sensor drift. As a result, raw data is usually not very reliable before some special processing, or “quality control.” This summer, I worked with Dr. Emery Boose and Prof. Read more > about Trees and bugs in computers

Visualization tools for digital dataset derivation graphs

August 10, 2012, by Miruna Oprescu

If you were a scientist working with more than 10,000 new data points every week, how well would you be able to keep track of all the changes you made to the data to obtain the final results? Moreover, if you were to look at your research 5 to 10 years from now, how well would you or any other scientist be able to reproduce your results from the original data? This summer, I am working with Emery Boose, researcher at Harvard Forest, Barbara Lerner, professor of Computer Science at Mt. Read more > about Visualization tools for digital dataset derivation graphs

Team ragweed

August 8, 2012, by Tiffany Carey and Courtney Maloney

One of the many signs of Spring is the United States’ report on pollen counts across the country. These pollen counts are essential, due to the 35 million Americans who get hay fever every year from pollen. In our project, we investigated whether allergenic pollen concentrations from three ecotypes of common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) produce more pollen in response to rising CO2 concentrations. Our objective was to test for differences in pollen production by ecotypes from these climatically distinct parts of New England. Read more > about Team ragweed

K-12 phenology lessons for the phenocam project

August 6, 2012, by Katherine Bennett
Katie Bennett and students.

In the fall of 2011, the Ashburnham- Westminster Regional School District became the first of five schools to join Dr. Andrew Richardson’s Phenocam Network with the installation of a digital phenocam on the roof of Overlook Middle School in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. As a part of the Phenocam project, students at the K-12 level have expanded the scope of phenological monitoring that is part of the Harvard Forest Schoolyard Ecology Program protocol, Buds, Leaves, and Global Warming. In this protocol, students work with Dr. Read more > about K-12 phenology lessons for the phenocam project

MODIS satellite imagery as applied to phenological assessment, team BU

August 6, 2012, by Erin Frick and Jose Luis Rugelio
MODIS tile

Observations of vegetation phenology can be collected not only from ground-level field studies but also space borne remote sensing instruments. In particular, satellite images may be used to assess vegetative phenophase transition dates such as spring onset, maximum vegetation cover and senescence across regional scales. One approach to such assessment entails analysis of data from the MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) instrument. Read more > about MODIS satellite imagery as applied to phenological assessment, team BU

Near remote sensing to track changes in phenology in forests, team Harvard

August 6, 2012, by Dmitri Ilushin, Sascha Perry, and Hannah Skolnik
A representative photo from Kenya of a water buffalo at a watering hole.

This year, the Richardson Lab of Harvard University and the Friedl lab of Boston University set out to study climate change using two different methods, remote sensing and near remote sensing. This summer, the two teams predominantly focused on honing the methods already established by other scientists to study the changing climate as well as widen the subset of biomes and localities studied.   Read more > about Near remote sensing to track changes in phenology in forests, team Harvard

Part one of biotic change in hemlock forests - Moose, deer, and porcupines

August 1, 2012, by Andrew Moe

This summer, along with my mentor Ed Faison, a research associate at Harvard Forest and ecologist at Highstead Arboretum in Connecticut, I have been working on a project investigating the impacts of herbivory by moose, deer, and porcupine on regenerating forests.  Read more > about Part one of biotic change in hemlock forests - Moose, deer, and porcupines

Part three of biotic change in hemlock forests - Ants and spiders

August 1, 2012, by Yvan Delgado de la Flor

Eastern hemlock is a foundation species in eastern North America and plays a critical role in the local biota. This tree deeply shades the soil, creating a unique microclimate for some species. Currently, hemlocks are dying rapidly due to the invasive woolly adelgid, a nonnative phloem-feeding insect, causing alterations to the understory microclimates. Hemlocks are being replaced slowly by hardwood forests. Read more > about Part three of biotic change in hemlock forests - Ants and spiders

Part two of biotic change in hemlock forests - Rodents

August 1, 2012, by Elizabeth Kennett

 3:40am my alarm goes off. I adorn my headlamp, throw on some field clothes, tuck my pants into my socks, and climb into my mentor Ally Degrassi's truck. We're going trapping.   Read more > about Part two of biotic change in hemlock forests - Rodents

Forest dynamics in former plantations

July 23, 2012, by Anne Cervas


This summer, I am working with my mentor, Audrey Barker Plotkin, to study former plantations at the Harvard Forest. We are working in the field to record the growth and changing vegetation dynamics as the former plantations grow back as native forest after a century of plantation forestry. We are also combining data from the Harvard Forest Archives to the data we collect in the field to study the growth and composition of the plantation forests compared to the native second-growth forest.  Read more > about Forest dynamics in former plantations

Global warming and forest soil micro biomes

July 19, 2012, by Sonia Filipczak

Global Warming has become a topic under much debate, yet carrying implications that affect everyone. Whether you are young or old, plant, animal, or microbe, some of the obvious signs such as less snow in the winter and unbearably hot summers should remind us how much of an impact each individual has on our world. Among all of the individuals on this planet, soil microbes make up a large population and their response to climate change should be of concern. After all, there are more microbes in a teaspoon of soil than people on Earth! Read more > about Global warming and forest soil micro biomes

The adventures of taco

July 16, 2012, by Candice Hilliard, Adalyn Naka, and Margaret Garcia

Our first task for our summer project was a giant scavenger hunt throughout the whole forest: find our 100 plots, where we were to take measurements throughout the summer. Armed with our Tacoma, also known as Taco, a GPS unit, a map, and three bug jackets, we began our search.  Read more > about The adventures of taco

Conservation awareness

July 11, 2012, by Laura Bartock and Emma Schnur


Massachusetts is the third most densely populated state, but it is also the eighth most forested with more than 60% of the commonwealth covered by woodland. Of all this vast forested land, private families own more than 75% of it. That means that the future of our forests is in the hands of families just like yours and mine. In order to understand how the forests may change in time, we need to understand how these families are making decisions about their woodlands. Read more > about Conservation awareness

Forest and atmosphere dynamics

July 9, 2012, by Alexander Kappel and Paul Quackenbush

Long-term scientific research estimates that northern mid-latitude forests, like the Harvard Forest, store nearly a quarter of the billions of tons of CO2 added to the atmosphere annually by fossil fuel burning (http://www.lternet.edu/vignettes/hfr.html). These forests provide an invaluable resource in reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and slowing climate change. Read more > about Forest and atmosphere dynamics

Soil microbial respiration in a warming world

July 2, 2012, by Lauren Alteio


This summer, I am working with Jerry Melillo, Lindsay Scott, and members of the Ecosystems Center at the Marine Biological Laboratory to analyze the activity of soil microbes in response to soil warming. We study the extremely dynamic microenvironments within the soil to understand how the health of forest ecosystems can be affected by global climate change.  Read more > about Soil microbial respiration in a warming world

Global climate change with ants and slugs

June 25, 2012, by Matt Combs and Katie Davis

Ants with Matt Combs

Melting wax, digging through sand, and orchestrating the spectacular deaths of entire colonies of ants - seems more fitting for a preschooler than an undergraduate student, working a full-time job. Yet somehow, fate has landed this college senior his dream job: spending the summer in a professional scientific setting while doing things even a little kid would find cool. Read more > about Global climate change with ants and slugs

Hemlock trees and their pests

June 25, 2012, by Julia Brokaw and Vincent Waquiu

We got out of the truck at one of our research sites and saw two older women painting a picture of the forested road in afternoon sunlight. It was a beautiful scene, but what the artists didn’t know was that they were surrounded by stressed, thinning, and sick hemlock trees infested with the Hemlock Woolley Adelgid (HWA), the invasive insect pest currently attacking Eastern Hemlock Trees. Read more > about Hemlock trees and their pests

Pitchers and their tipping points

June 18, 2012, by Jennie Sirota

My project for this summer studies the extraordinary carnivorous pitcher plant, Sarracenia purpurea. Read more > about Pitchers and their tipping points

Underground photography of root growth

June 13, 2012, by Samuel Knapp

I’m still shocked by the opportunity I have been given this summer. Being from the upper-Midwest, I was unsure what I would find when I arrived at the Harvard Forest. Much to my delight, the people of Massachusetts and Harvard Forest have been friendly and welcoming. The region is beautifully forested, and the surrounding communities live up to all the great things I’ve heard about New England culture (accents included).  Read more > about Underground photography of root growth

Butterflies and bumblebees

June 11, 2012, by Aubrie James and Kelsey McKenna

This summer, we’re studying animal movement with Dr. Elizabeth Crone and some of her “Cronies” (lab members and affiliates): post-doctoral fellow Greg Breed, Harvard OEB graduate student James Crall, and research intern Dash Donnelly. We’re looking at how anthropogenic landscape changes and resource availability affect population dynamics in two different organisms: bumblebees and butterflies. Read more > about Butterflies and bumblebees

Providing safe and clean water

June 4, 2012, by Tefiro Kituuka Serunjogi

This summer I will work with Dr. Betsy Colburn to advance a research project I started in high school. The objective of my original project was to investigate ways in which hygienic and clean water could be provided to the people of my local community back home in Uganda. Read more > about Providing safe and clean water

What are you up to now?

May 30, 2012

Bennet Leon

Summer Research Program '05

Mentors: Audrey Barker-Plotkin

Project: Evolution of pit and mound microtopography 15 years after a simulated hurricane (abstract)

Hometown: Sudbury, MA

College and major: Bates College, class of 2007, Geology Read more > about What are you up to now?

Harvard Forest 2012 summer research program kicks off!

May 29, 2012

On May 21st, we welcomed 29 students to the Harvard Forest for our 2012 Summer Research Program. Our students were introduced to Petersham, Massachusetts after flying or driving into the Harvard Forest from all over the world. Read more > about Harvard Forest 2012 summer research program kicks off!

More summer research program alumni news

April 2, 2012

As we prepare for our 2012 crop of Summer Research students, congratulations are in order for a few program alumni:

    • Israel Del Toro (REU '08), a graduate student at UMass-Amherst, has earned a Fulbright to study ants in Australia in 2012-2013.

Spotlight on summer students

January 17, 2012

Several of our recent Summer Research Program students have had their research featured in the news this year:

    • Jakob (REU '11) via The New York Times! (pp3-4 + slideshow)

Fine woody debris dynamics after an ice storm

August 23, 2011, by Jakob Lindaas

I used to walk through a forest, always looking up in wonder at the tall, sturdy trees and their vast canopies. But after this summer I have a newfound appreciation for what lies underneath these great sentries of the forest realm. Among the seasonal litterfall and the rotting remains of former protectors of peaceful succession, lay my study subjects. Read more > about Fine woody debris dynamics after an ice storm

Microbes in a warmer world

August 23, 2011, by Tara and Kelden

A major area of research here at Harvard Forest focuses on understanding the ecological changes within the forest due to a rapidly warming climate. These climate conditions are replicated at the forest using several experimentally warmed plots that are heated by resistance cables placed beneath the soil surface. In collaboration with the Marine Biological Labs (MBL), we attempted to understand microbial diversity and function within these manipulated plots, in order to investigate the roles of these microbes in the global carbon cycle in response to warming.  Read more > about Microbes in a warmer world

Ragweed in a changing climate

August 23, 2011, by Linn Jennings, Laura Hancock, and Samuel Safran

Ambrosia artemisiifolia, better known as common ragweed, is a leading cause of hay fever allergies. It grows in disturbed areas, like roadsides and abandoned fields. Increased atmospheric CO2 has been shown to increase the pollen production and growth of ragweed. Thus, with predicted changes in land use and climate, pollen production of common ragweed is likely to increase. Read more > about Ragweed in a changing climate

REU skydiving!

August 23, 2011, by Laura Hancock

After all the work and research is done, we definitely know how to have some fun! The last weekend of the program, three fellow REU students--Lindsay Day, Alanna Yazzie, Keke Mitchel, and I decided to do something extremely exciting and go skydiving! We've all wanted to try it, so to me it seemed like the perfect way to end the summer.  Read more > about REU skydiving!

Sampling the lyford grid

August 23, 2011, by Kate Eisen and Collette Yee

A permanent plot study provides an amazing opportunity for ecological research because it allows scientists to observe changes over ecological time. While many studies take place over a few field seasons at most because of funding or other limitations, permanent plot studies allow scientists to ask questions that only be answered over years or decades by providing a larger window into the dynamics of a site or population over time. For this reason, permanent plot studies are also essential to studying organisms like trees that grow slowly and often live for a long time.   Read more > about Sampling the lyford grid

Urban ecology

August 23, 2011, by Ashley Golphin

Whereas most of the 2011 Harvard Forest REU group conducted research in rural forested areas, my research partner Stephan Bradley and I braved the streets of inner-city Boston to expand our understanding of how urban ecosystems function with regards to urban greening.  Read more > about Urban ecology

Water transport in trees

August 23, 2011, by Alena Tofte

Multitudes of tightly packed rings in an old, sturdy tree hide a secret – not only do they elucidate to a discerning viewer a historical record of how much the tree grew each year for the course of its life, but these rings also contain the remnants of its once-functional woody vascular tissue, the xylem. Xylem once threaded thin streams of water and vital nutrients throughout the growing tree’s roots, trunk and crown. Read more > about Water transport in trees

"Warm ants"

August 3, 2011, by Natashia, Michael, and Kevin

The Warm Ants team is interested in examining the effects of climate change on ecosystem services, species interactions, and biodiversity. We are continuing monitoring of the open top heated chambers at the long term Warm Ants plot through monthly pitfall trapping, winkler sampling, vegetation surveys, and artificial nest investigation. Check out a video we made describing the experimental design of the heated chambers! Read more > about "Warm ants"

Climate change impacts on phenology and ecosystem processes of northeastern forests

August 3, 2011, by Bridget, Libby, Lakeitha, Rachel, and Isaac

Phenology is the study of changes in organisms due to the seasonal cycle. Phenological shifts in forest and other ecosystems, due to climate change, could have important impacts on carbon and nutrient cycling. Therefore, it is important to find easy and accurate ways of tracking phenology in numerous ecosystems over an extended period of time. The Harvard Forest has multiple digital cameras set up to take photos of the canopy. These cameras are part of a larger network of digital cameras known as the Phenocam network. Read more > about Climate change impacts on phenology and ecosystem processes of northeastern forests

Paleoecology lab

August 3, 2011, by Lindsay Day

This summer, I researched and contributed to the reconstruction of past ecosystems by working in the Paleoecology lab. Our main field research experience involved a lake-coring trip to Martha’s Vineyard. My mentor Wyatt, lab manager Elaine Doughty, Director of Harvard Forest David Foster and I loaded up the big green van with canoes and coring equipment and took the trip out to the Vineyard. Read more > about Paleoecology lab

Summer winding down for student researchers but the fun isn't over just yet

July 28, 2011, by Moshe Roberts, Summer Proctor

As students wrap up their projects, polish their abstracts and start preparing their presentations for the annual symposium in August, they are still finding time for some exciting excursions to local cities, Boston and the coast. Students attended the midnight premier of the eighth and final Harry Potter movie on July 15, getting into the spirit by coming in costume! Read more > about Summer winding down for student researchers but the fun isn't over just yet

Interns explore boston

June 23, 2011, by Moshe Roberts, Summer Proctor

Throughout June, the interns have had the opportunity to explore their surroundings from the farmers markets and produce stands of Petersham to the local businesses at Taste of Amherst to the urban atmosphere of Boston. At Taste of Amherst, students were able to sample dishes from a variety of restaurants and eateries all gathered together in the beautiful town green for this annual food festival. Read more > about Interns explore boston

Pitcher plant communities as model food webs

June 20, 2011, by Rachel Brooks

Covered in mud, and smelling similar to the stagnant swamp I found myself surrounded by, I peer deep into the small cuplike leaves of the Sarracenia purpurea (Northern Pitcher Plant), a long-lived carnivorous plant. Contained in these delicate green and red veined pitchers (which have become my life for this summer) an entire detritus-based food-web thrives. This community, consisting of bacteria, protozoa, rotifers, and anthropods, is diversified with numerous endemic species that can only be found within this unique little niche.  
Read more > about Pitcher plant communities as model food webs

Soil carbon dynamics and its controls at Harvard Forest

June 9, 2011, by Moussa Bakari, Julianna Brunini, and Leticia Delgado

Like plants and animals, soils “breathe.” That is, the microbes and roots found in dirt release carbon dioxide as they respire, and then the CO2 diffuses its way into the atmosphere. Our project focuses on the rate of this diffusion, or the CO2 flux, because we hope to better understand processes that affect the storage and release of CO2 in soils. Whether the net flux is positive or negative will greatly impact future climate change, so understanding soil carbon dynamics is an integral part of understanding climate change.
Read more > about Soil carbon dynamics and its controls at Harvard Forest

What are you up to now?

June 9, 2011

Dunbar Carpenter

REU '07 and '09

Mentors: Kristina Stinson, David Foster, Jonathan Thompson Read more > about What are you up to now?

First weekend at Harvard Forest!

June 1, 2011

After roasting s'mores over a Friday night bonfire, the interns headed to Amherst for the day to explore the cultural festival happening at UMass Amherst, see some historical sites, and to catch a flick at the nearby mall. Whether students saw the latest in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, or The Hangover Part II, all can agree it was a great day! The next morning was filled with baking and games. Cupcakes were enjoyed by all before an evening hike to the fire tower to watch the sunset. Read more > about First weekend at Harvard Forest!

REU students and mentors participate in art and cultural programs

June 1, 2011

On Friday afternoon, students explored an open studio hosted by Harvard Forest’s artist in residence and Bullard Fellow, Debby Kaspari.
Read more > about REU students and mentors participate in art and cultural programs

Welcome, REU 2011!

May 30, 2011

32 students arrived this week for the Harvard Forest summer research program in ecology. Students have come from colleges and universities all over the United States to participate in on-going ecology-based research for eleven weeks. These students will work on a wide diversity of projects, focusing on plant physiology, invasive species, insect ecology, land-use history, phenology, and climate change. Students also get to participate in seminars, discussions on ethics in science, and career-building opportunities. Read more > about Welcome, REU 2011!

Spotlight on summer students

November 22, 2010

Several of our recent REU students were featured in stories written by their home universities this year.

    • Sarah (REU '10) at St. Norbert College in Wisconsin

'10 REUs say goodbye to Harvard Forest, for now

August 17, 2010, by Aleta Wiley

After their two-day Symposium and a final day of cleaning, organizing, and packing, the summer students at Harvard Forest had nothing remaining except to say their goodbyes before heading back home. For twelve weeks, the students lived together in two houses at the Forest, sharing stories about their homes and colleges, from Oregon to Texas to Wisconsin to Vermont. Now, it was time for them to disperse and begin telling their friends and family the stories about their summer in Petersham, MA. Thank you all for a fantastic program! Read more > about '10 REUs say goodbye to Harvard Forest, for now

A final excursion before the end of summer

August 13, 2010, by Sarah Gray

Before tears were shed and goodbyes were said, a few of the REU students went for ice cream at Carter and Stevens, a local farm store. 

C&S is famous for their Friday night cookout, where they serve burgers, corn, and fresh veggies roasted over the fire.

With none of Tim's delicious cooking at Harvard Forest and no reason to buy groceries since everyone was headed home the next day, a few of us went to chow down on locally-produced beef and delicious grilled veggies.  Read more > about A final excursion before the end of summer

REUs ace summer symposium!

August 12, 2010, by Aleta Wiley

In the final week of the Summer Research Program in Ecology for Undergraduates at Harvard Forest, all 33 students participated in the Student Symposium on August 11-12 in the Fisher Museum. Over a day and a half, all the students presented 15 minute talks to an audience comprising program mentors, university professors, Harvard Forest researchers, family members, and of course, their fellow students.  Read more > about REUs ace summer symposium!

Harvard Forest get-together at the ESA annual meeting

August 10, 2010, by Aleta Wiley

This year, Harvard Forest organized a social event at the Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Pittsburgh, PA. The goals of the social were to bring together past and current folks who have worked at the Forest to catch up with each other and to provide an occasion for any undergraduates attending the ESA Meeting to come learn about opportunities at the Forest. Read more > about Harvard Forest get-together at the ESA annual meeting

Using models to project how climate change might affect oak species distribution

August 10, 2010, by Elisabete (Baker) Vail

Imagine if crystal balls which allowed us to catch a glimpse of the future, actually existed? What would you use them to see? 

Well, in a way – they do exist. In the abstract world of math and computers, “models” are fed datasets of current day information and asked to project future outcomes. Ecologists use them to forecast how current events will shape our future planet. This is what I have spent my summer, attempting to do.  Read more > about Using models to project how climate change might affect oak species distribution

Vegetation sampling in wildlands and woodlands

August 9, 2010, by Maddy Case and Joe Horn

We have spent most of the summer traveling across New England to do field work at sites in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. At each site, we have been establishing permanent vegetation sampling plots for a long-term study comparing forest dynamics in managed and unmanaged forests. Read more > about Vegetation sampling in wildlands and woodlands

Exploring the abiotic and biotic drivers of soil respiration on the Harvard Forest Prospect Hill Tract

August 4, 2010, by Claudia Reveles, Joanna Blaszczak, and Maya Thomas

Our project is in the field of soil carbon dynamics, specifically looking at the rate of carbon dioxide efflux around Prospect Hill as well as areas that have been manipulated by different abiotic (nitrogen input and temperature) and biotic (adding leaf litter and removing roots) factors.  Read more > about Exploring the abiotic and biotic drivers of soil respiration on the Harvard Forest Prospect Hill Tract

Using computer science at Harvard Forest to increase integrity of scientific conclusions

August 3, 2010, by Sofiya Taskova and Morgan Vigil

This summer, we have had the privilege of working with Dr. Emery Boose and Dr. Barbara Lerner on a project involving a mash up of ecology and technology. For the past few weeks, we have been inundated with the buzzwords "data provenance", "sensor network", "Process Derivation Graphs", "Data Derivation Graphs", "stream discharge", and "weirs". Read more > about Using computer science at Harvard Forest to increase integrity of scientific conclusions

The delicious food for the Harvard Forest summer program

August 2, 2010, by Sarah Gray

When I arrived at Harvard Forest back in May, I was shy, timid, and scared of my new environment. After meeting some of my fellow REUs, I became more relaxed with my surroundings. After the jitters of my first day subsided (having arrived at the Forest a week after the other students), I realized that I was starving! I asked my housemates if there was any food, and their reply was "Ohh, yes. There is food." Read more > about The delicious food for the Harvard Forest summer program

Using GIS to model how climate change and land use will affect the abundance of common ragweed

July 30, 2010, by Israel Marquez

The big picture of the project I am working in is to model how climate change and difference in land use will affect the allergenic potency of Artemisia artemissifolia, better known as common ragweed. This is the first year of a four-year study, so creating a database that will work for the rest of the project is indispensable. I am working on developing part of a geodatabase containing a myriad of GIS shape files, from “all roads” layers to layers containing parcel owner information and population densities. Read more > about Using GIS to model how climate change and land use will affect the abundance of common ragweed

Seminar: Good scientific presentation skills

July 29, 2010, by Aleta Wiley

Two weeks from now, all 33 summer REU students will be speaking in a two-day Symposium at Harvard Forest. They will have 15 minutes to discuss their research projects from this summer. For some, this will be their first public presentation. 

Read more > about Seminar: Good scientific presentation skills

Soil warming and hardwoods

July 27, 2010, by Sarah Gray

Here at the Harvard Forest, I am working on the effects of soil warming on various hardwoods. There has already been an experiment to test the effects of global warming on soil. The 20-year-long experiment found that with increased soil temperatures there was an increase in microbial activity. Read more > about Soil warming and hardwoods

Tracking moose and deer

July 26, 2010, by Carlyn Perovich and Mickey Drott

We have spent the summer happily crawling around in the forest, bruising ourselves under mountain laurel in pursuit of the holy Grail of our project, moose poop. We are studying the impact of deer and moose browsing on the regeneration of forests, specifically looking at hemlock and oak seedlings. This research is particularly important since the number of white tailed deer continues to increase, and moose recently reappeared in Massachusetts after being extirpated since the mid-19th century. Read more > about Tracking moose and deer

Helping the wood turtles and learning about passion: REU students participate in annual service and career day

July 20, 2010, by Aleta Wiley

Last week, all 33 REU students got to take a day off from their regular research projects in order to participate in Service and Career Day, an annual event held each summer for the Program.

Read more > about Helping the wood turtles and learning about passion: REU students participate in annual service and career day

The effects of large-scale deforestation

July 16, 2010, by Crystal Garcia and Angie Marshall

We are working in the clearcut up on Prospect Hill near the fire tower. Previously, this area was a spruce plantation, but 2 years ago, it was deforested and timber was harvested. This area is now used as a research site to highlight the effects of large-scale deforestation efforts. A flux-tower was set up in the middle of the area to help capture the carbon, water, and energy fluxed between the land and the air. Read more > about The effects of large-scale deforestation

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