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Summer Research Experience: Student Blog

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From the Zen Garden to the Zen Forest

August 1, 2017, by Salua Rivero
Art installation - Salua Rivero
There was only one place, my secret place, on my campus in which I felt happy and free; the Zen Garden. It was the only green space on campus, a tiny square hidden by trees and only one picnic table to sit on. That was where I went to read, to write poetry, to meditate, to be alone and to think. After a while, I realized that I only felt happy while I was there, since I spent most of my day in class or working. I went there every morning before class, during lunch and during every break I had. I knew my heart yearned to be outdoors and that was as close to being outdoors as I could get in...Read more >

Attack of the invasive species: Garlic Mustard and Exotic earthworms affect plant diversity.

July 26, 2017, by Karina Martinez
Treating Plot
Imagine easy-on-the-ears bluegrass melodies, an occasional summertime thunderstorm, a mama bear on the side of the road with her cubs, illuminating fireflies within the grasses at night, and vivid green forest scenery. This is a summer to remember for an Angelino city girl. These experiences come from living at Harvard Forest, and traveling within Massachusetts and New York with my mentors Mercedes Harris and Erin Coates, two master students from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. All the sites that I have traveled to are characteristically similar second-growth forests that are...Read more >

White Oak Regeneration, Is It a Crisis or Not?

July 17, 2017, by Nicholas Patel
Boring Tree at the Mohawk Trail State Forest
Scientists and foresters have documented and monitored the increasing mortality of oak trees in the United States for over the past century. This decline has become a high-profile issue because oaks account for one third of our nation’s hardwood saw timber volume, most of which is coming from eastern states. Of the 20 commercially valuable oak species, white oak is the most important in the United States’ timber market. White oak is a slow-growing species with a territory ranging from northern Florida to southern New England. One part of this decline is that many forest ecologists and...Read more >

The Invasion of Garlic Mustard Plants: The Aliens of Nature

July 27, 2016, by Sydney-Alyce Bourget
Gray slimy skin, large head, and dark piercing black eyes are some features that compose the classic science fiction alien. In typical science fiction fashion, these aliens come from outer space and invade the Earth. Their superior technology and intellect provide them with a competitive advantage over the human race allowing them to monopolize Earth’s precious resources, while annihilating its inhabitants from existence. Although an alien invasion has not occurred in real life, the concept of foreign organisms invading an area is not limited to the world of science fiction. In fact, these...Read more >

How do I love thee, soil? Let me count thy roots!

July 22, 2016, by Sarah Goldsmith
The next time you find yourself in a hemlock forest, take moment to notice what is around you. Take your gaze skyward to the thick and verdant canopy or downwards to the dim and dappled light that dances in playful patterns across the thick layer of needles carpeting the forest floor. Close your eyes and listen for the myriad of birds and insects that call this forest home or take a deep breath and inhale the rich and distinctive smell of the forest-- the light scent of newly grown needles highlighting the deeper earthy smell of the soil. It is perhaps one of my favorite scenes to come across...Read more >

Field Experiments: The Struggle is Real

July 20, 2016, by Alex Salinas
One of the first things that struck me on my way to Harvard Forest from the Boston airport was the vivid scenery. Coming from the heart of Texas, I couldn’t believe all the lush forests and lakes that surrounded me. It was all so surreal that it took me a few hours to convince myself I was actually here. What I was excited for most was the fact that for the next 11 weeks I would get to spend almost every day outside in this beautiful scenery doing field research! Little did I know at the time, however, Mother Nature was not going to let my research proceed as smoothly as I was expecting. One...Read more >

Grazing Our Problems Away: How Cows Can Put New England’s Conservation Issues Out to Pasture

July 6, 2016, by Anna Mayrand
Looking at New England’s forests today, it’s almost hard to believe that at one point, most of the land was open fields. In the 1880’s, land was cleared out by settlers to make fields for grazing and farming. The land has since recovered from its deforestation with 80% of the land now being dominated by forest. However, this gives rise to a new problem: the loss of open fields to growing forests. But wait, how can reforestation be a bad thing? Why not let the landscape return to its original state? Turns out in all the time these open fields were maintained, ecosystems adapted and new fauna...Read more >

Getting to the Bottom of Paleoecology

July 24, 2015, by Megan Shadley
This summer I have been inducted into a prestigious group on the Harvard Forest grounds known as Club Paleo. The lucky few of us that work in the paleoecology lab attempt to decode climate and forest ecology conditions from thousands of years ago in order to infer how changes in the past could help predict how climate will change in the future. This research is conducted by gathering quantitative data from sediment cores extracted from lakes and ponds throughout New England. With my mentor Wyatt Oswald and researcher Elaine Doughty, this summer I have helped with the extraction of two new...Read more >

Ant-ticipating Change: As forests change, will ants?

July 21, 2015, by Tess McCabe
Aphaenogaster ant nest
Ants work hard. In fact, a single leafcutter colony can consume more than the average cow . But different ants work hard in different ways. Some will move seeds around, letting plants grow in new areas. Some will build vast underground tunnels that aerate the soil. Different kind of ants are useful. That's where I come in. I do two things. I figure out what ants we're working with, and I figure out what ants we will be working with. Here at Harvard Forest and at Black Rock Forest , I am looking at how the numbers and types of species of ant has changed over time, and how they will change. Our...Read more >

No Such Thing As Too Much Garlic? Think Again!

July 6, 2015, by Natalie Gonzalez
One of the first things my driver told me on my way to Harvard Forest from the Boston airport was that Massachusetts was in the middle of a drought. Now I thought this was odd because, looking out of my window, I saw lakes sitting on both sides of the road. Being from California I expected a slightly different view of the city when the word "drought" was used. For the rest of the summer I would experience large amounts of cold rain, humidity, thunderstorms, high temperatures, and frizz....sometimes all in the same day (except for the frizz, that's become an everyday problem). "They call this...Read more >

Initial Impressions of the Summer Ahead

June 3, 2014, by Alison Ochs
Alison Ochs standing above the canopy on the Hemlock Tower
When I first arrived at Harvard Forest, I saw green. The woods were beautiful, the trails stunning, and all I could tell was that the forest around me was unlike anything I was used to. What I didn’t see initially were the dying trees, the falling needles, and the slow decline of a once healthy hemlock forest. Yes, the maples were fine, the pines booming, even some chestnuts starting to sprout, but the hemlock was fading away. This loss and its accompanying effects on the forest ecosystem are what I am here to study. The hemlock woolly adelgid is an invasive insect that attaches to the base...Read more >

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? NAY!!! The culprit creeps covertly along unsuspecting branches, before driving deep its dark feeder into the base of a hemlock needle: an invasive insect, a vile villain, the herald of misfortune for hemlocks all along the eastern lands. They drain the vigor from their victims...Read more >

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. As each student discussed his/her summer research, the audience was impressed with the diversity of projects presented ( Abstracts are available here ). Since Harvard Forest is an LTER (Long Term...Read more >