You are here

Summer Research Experience: Student Blog

Printer-friendly version

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 >

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. The first piece of the puzzle that started to work was the data logger. This was...Read more >

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 College and major: Johnson C. Smith University, majored in biology and minored in chemistry, 2007 What you miss most about the Summer Research program:  I miss going into the forest with Audrey and collecting data. I also miss the people I worked with and their mentors. What you miss least about the program: Living next to cows. What about the program has stuck with you:  I enjoyed the research I did and how friendly the staff were. I was a picky eater and when the...Read more >

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. One of our duties includes exploring the field in order to collect the saved data from the six hydrological stations distributed along the brooks and swamps in the vicinities of Prospect Hill. So, weekly, armed with a palm-pilot, a data sheet,...Read more >

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 College and major: Mount Holyoke College, Environmental Studies, 2012 What you miss most about the Summer Research program :  I enjoyed spending lots of time outdoors and doing field research with other students. I also really loved living in Fisher house with all of my housemates! What you miss least about the program :  Nothing. What about the program has...Read more >

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. Fast forward 3 hours. I am sitting in front of my computer thinking about how great my morning workout went. And how juicy and delicious were those blueberries and pineapple chunks...Read more >

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: 1. Daddy long legs are not spiders! What? Everything I know about life has been a lie! Daddy longlegs are arachnids, but they're not spiders. Instead they are called harvestmen. 2...Read more >

Alumni profile: Where are you now?

July 18, 2013
Lawren Sack Summer Research Program Project: Posion Ivy Hometown: Western Mass What about the program has stuck with you:  The REU program was the first place where I had the opportunity to design, from the beginning, my own scientific experiments. These skills have certainly stuck with me. Did your Summer Research experience support or change your school/career plans:  No. It definitely supported my school and career plans, and played a key role in my sucessful application to graduate school. What are you up to now:  After completing my PhD at UC Berkeley in 2010, I was a California...Read more >

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.... For people who were strangers only 8 weeks ago, who came from all over the...Read more >

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. What you miss most about the Summer Research program:  The forest itself, Tim's meals, assisting Aaron Ellison with his field work (trekking through Vermont bogs to find the elusive pitcher plant!), the cows, honing my canoeing skills and all of the social connections I made there. What you miss least about the program:  The tedious lab work. What about the program has...Read more >

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. At first glance, spending nearly an entire summer nestled deep within the Harvard Forest seemed like a daunting task, especially for a guy who has never lived away from home or has held any sort of research position. Luckily however, my time at the Forest has been an amazing and fulfilling experience, and...Read more >

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. We freeze on the path to examine undiscovered forest treasures: a shimmering garnet mica-schist, a gem-studded puffball, or a new butterfly that Justine drops everything to stalk – or at least blunder after with a...Read more >

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 What you miss most about the Summer Research program:  The collection of researchers- so many interesting people and cool projects in one place! I also miss running on the HF roads and trails. What you miss least about the program: The inherent drama of a large house full of college students. What about the program has stuck with you: I really learned how to do field-based...Read more >

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: Soil Soil and invertebrates Soils, invertebrates, and a salamander The soil includes the first trophic in the ecosystem: microbes. The inverts are the second...Read more >

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! The funny is important and sometimes hard to fully grasp. Getting rained on and soaked down to the bone for three weeks straight will build you character and zap every bit of energy out of your body. These miserable weeks of...Read more >

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  What you miss most about the Summer Research program: I miss the feeling of being surrounded by other students learning at the same rate as myself, and being focused completely on our projects without teaching, grants or the outside world getting in the way.  What you miss least about the program: Pre-dawn water potential measurements!  What about the program...Read more >

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. Although this last part is far from reality, and I actually live in a typical Boston suburb...Read more >

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. Monday through Friday, the majority of my time...Read more >