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Summer Research Experience: Student Blog

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Farm to Fun

July 25, 2018, by Jerilyn Jean M. Calaor
Committing to an 11 week scientific program – especially one that bears the prestigious name of Harvard – can be pretty intimating. However, you (prospective students) need not to worry. While it is true that the research may be challenging at times, the people you’ll meet and the adventures you’ll venture in your weeks at Harvard Forest make the battles with field work, data entry, R, and deadlines seem so small. Here, I share highlights of two summers in Harvard Forest's Summer Program for Ecology – from farm to fun.Read more >

Blue vs. Wild

July 24, 2018, by Nia Riggins
Blue vs. Wild is an upcoming comic book about a girl and her adventures at Harvard Forest. It is a tale of friendship, science, and a whole lot of other things too. She and her field partner explore the wilderness and make observations through measuring seedlings, harvesting trees, taking canopy photos, and collecting soil samples. The woods can be a scary but beautiful place. It’s full of spiders and mice, but also adorable creatures like bright orange newts and frogs. This story revolves around the forest but there are several scenery changes! The whole gang explores other landscapes like...Read more >

Hemlock Hospice Documentary - Work In Progress

July 24, 2018, by Faizal Westcott
As a visual creative working in a science research environment, I’ve come to find that there’s a lot to be said about the conjunction between art and science. Most people would say that they are polar opposites from each other and might never put two and two together (that’s probably why I haven’t understood half the things people have tried explaining to me here). But during my time here and while working on this film on the Hemlock Hospice trail, I’ve come to realize that science-minded individuals aren’t just about the data and numbers and that the idea that scientists and artists can’t...Read more >

Life at the Harvard Forest

July 24, 2018, by Grace Duah
Before spending the summer at Harvard Forest, I was not exposed to real scientists. Interning here this summer allowed me to both witness and learn from real life scientists; seeing their daily interaction with their research. Life at Harvard Forest is the right type of fast pace. Upon arrival I was nervous to be so far away from home for the first time but was soon welcomed by the warm faces of everyone. I personally thought of life at Harvard Forest as a trilogy consisting of research, logistics and food. All three components are drastically different, however not even one in my opinion is...Read more >

Sketches of New England Wildlife

July 20, 2018, by Annina Kennedy-Yoon
Part of my work this summer involves setting up camera traps to show the diversity of wildlife within the area. This is part of a larger project that intends to convey the presence of these animals within the region. Within the first month of the cameras being set up, we have captured animals that some people have never seen during their time living in the region. Animals like moose, bears, and coyotes are a few of the rarities, however, we do also capture raccoons, bobcats, foxes, beavers, otters, squirrels, and others on camera. I find that sketching aspects of nature is a good way for me...Read more >

L.I.F.E : Living In a Forest Ecosystem

July 19, 2018, by Kyle Wyche
It's 5am and the Sun rays are barely reaching over the horizon when you hear your mentor yell “IT’S A BEAR! GET TO THE CAR!!” . Now, research at the Harvard Forest can lead to some crazy experiences depending on what project you’re on, but don’t worry because if you don’t like bears, experiences like this one, which a fellow researcher of mine had, are quite rare. In fact, we have 2 weeks left and I haven’t seen a bear or a moose this entire time, but I’m still keeping my fingers crossed. Research here can range from super-cooling trees, to computer science, to building a system for a tree to...Read more >

Fields of View

July 18, 2018, by Ruth van Kampen
The words of my lab instructor rattled around in my head on the first day of introductory biology lab—“If what you see doesn’t interest you, you’re not looking close enough.” Annoyed, I fiddled around with the stage location and the coarse focus knob of the microscope, convinced I wasn’t going to see anything in the gross pond water with which we had made slides. The depth of field was all wrong and my eyes hurt from staring intently at the slide, backlit by the bright light of the microscope. Suddenly, something moved in the far edges of the field of view. I used two stage knobs to quickly...Read more >

The Forest

July 18, 2018, by Joe Wonsil
Watch The Forest using the link below! Here is the link Description: The Forest is an American television sitcom that aired on HFBC from July 5, 2018, to July 5, 2018, lasting one episode. Not everyone at the Harvard Forest goes out into the field. To the field workers, it may seem like the indoor workers have it easy sitting in air conditioned rooms on their computers. The Forest takes a step into their lives to see if this is true.... Disclaimer: The actions in this video are not necessarily representative of what happens at Harvard Forest. The intent of the video is to show that while we...Read more >

Harvard Forest Field Guide: The Common Trees Found on Prospect Hill

July 13, 2018, by Meghan Slocombe
As a Harvard Forest REU student, I am outside taking measurements everyday. These measurements range from things like diameter at breast height (DBH), tree height, the distances between trees, leaf area index (LAI), and percent cover by different lichen species. However, this blog post does not explain how I did any of those, or even what those measurements mean, and that's because none of these measurements mean anything if I can't first identify the tree I am taking measurements on. (Although some of these measurements are really cool and if you're interested you should definitely make the...Read more >

The FUNstrations of Field Work

July 13, 2018, by Emory Ellis
Once you have finished designing your summer project, it may seem easy: collect samples, process those samples, input the data, interpret the data, and present your findings. Easy… right? Not so much. Timing is everything. How can you finish your project if there are not enough hours in the day? This summer I am researching how silica fluxes and concentrations differ between trees in dry and wet regions in the Harvard Forest over the growing season (aka the summer). Before I came to the Harvard Forest, I knew that research was a long process. It will take time to develop a research project,...Read more >

It’s Just a Name – Don’t Sweat It

July 10, 2018, by Seanne Clemente
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.” Romeo and Juliet (2.2.46–47) You’ve probably heard it before, haven’t you? This timeless quote from a timeless tragedy written by a timeless author. Perhaps you have a faint recollection of an English teacher from high school. Do you flash back to said teacher making sense of what exactly Juliet meant when she said this to Romeo from her balcony? Or maybe you were more tech-savvy than you were a good listener, and you instead remember a quick Google search and a redirect to sparknotes.com’s ‘ Romeo and...Read more >

Fashion Forward Forest Style Guide

July 9, 2018, by Saloni Shah
Saloni is a rising Senior at Boston University studying Earth and Environmental Sciences.Read more >

Landscape Modeling and Horror Movies: A Great Way to Spend a Summer

July 6, 2018, by Evan Waldmann
My summer research project involves expanding upon the mechanistic model, LANDIS-II, that is intended to simulate forest growth over rather vast landscapes. With the use of the Thompson Lab’s Land Use Plus extension, I have been tasked with creating dynamic and reactive responses to fire occurring across the Klamath, a National Forest in Northern California. One of my first big efforts on the project, besides learning how to deal with ever temperamental model that is LANDIS, was to parameterize the study region. If you are unaware of what it means to parameterize a model, it is just a fancy...Read more >

The Keys to a Good Research Community

July 6, 2018, by J. Marcos Rodriguez
As an undergraduate researcher here at Harvard Forest my particular project involves sampling the smaller seedlings of the forest’s woody plants (trees and shrubs) within one of the station’s largest observational plots. In measuring these plants, my partner and I are working to not only provide a more complete picture of the distribution of woody plants, but also test unanswered questions in ecology. For me however, the actual “research project” is only half of what makes a good research program. In order to have a fulfilling program, it is also necessary to consider the community of people...Read more >

Things to Know About HF

July 4, 2018, by Monica Velasco
If you’re wondering what the experience in the Harvard Forest program is in regard to the research, then you’re in the wrong post. I’m here to talk about the important stuff: people, food, housing, and fun things to do when you’re not working. All 25 people in the program, plus the proctors, are incredible people. People came from all over the US and even Guam. Being the only person from California was a little tough at times because I couldn’t just go home on the weekends like others did. Still, I felt like I fit in really well. It was also pretty cool sharing and learning different cultures...Read more >

A Day as a Harvard REU Student

July 3, 2018, by Shreena Pyakurel
It is 7:00 AM on a Friday and I wake up as I remember that it is Friday, or as Jerilyn, one of my research partners, says Chai Day! Friday is a special day because it starts with enjoying Tim’s amazing hot breakfast with chai. I think almost everyone makes it to Friday breakfast even if they do not make it to other days, and everyone is generally in high spirits as we plan our weekend trips while enjoying delicious food. Fast forward to 9:00 AM and now it is time to start our workday. This summer I am working with my mentor Martha Hoopes, and my amazing research partners on the Harvard Farm...Read more >

Under Pressure

July 3, 2018, by Katja Diaz-Granados
It’s hard to fathom the idea of negative pressures. Pressure is always a force added, something pushing against and weighing down. What a tree does to move water goes completely against both gravity and our sense of what pressure can do. Thanks to a few simple properties, like the fact that water molecules stick to each other and that trees lose a lot of water, trees don’t maintain an active circulatory system like ours, but instead use a gradient of negative pressures to drive evaporating water from leaves and replenish it with a continuous chain of water molecules pulled up from the soil...Read more >