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Summer Research Experience: Student Blog

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June 11, 2014, by Claudia Villar

Hugging Hemlocks

In the early hours of most summer mornings, our team of researchers trudges through the New England forest along a well-worn path, shaded by the young, light-green leaves of the oak, maple and birch trees above us. Equipped with backpacks overloaded with gear including measuring tapes, hard hats, clipboards, and hammers, we chat about our families, our hometowns, and our
June 9, 2014, by Kyle Boyd

My Research Buddy, the LI-COR 6400

What is a LI-COR 6400? The LI-COR 6400 (LI-6400) is a machine that allows budding scientists like me (pun intended) to study the exchange of gases between leaves and their environment. This high-tech machine allows us to learn a lot about how a plant functions. For instance, because carbon dioxide is consumed during photosynthesis, measuring the rate of carbon dioxide
June 6, 2014, by Sofie McComb

Creating A New England Forest Map

Matthew Duveneck and Sofie McComb analyzing data in the scripting language R
The first week at Harvard Forest has passed and it already feels like I have been here for a month. There is always so much going on and so many things happening that time just flies by. Orientation was a two day whirlwind and finally on day three all the students got to meet their mentors and get to work.
June 6, 2014, by Luis Perez

Debugging Ecological Research

Barbara Lerner, Luis Perez, Nikki Hoffler, and Emery Boose working
With ecology, as with an increasing number of other fields, "big data" has become an intrinsic aspect of scientific research. Ask most field scientists and, with a grunt of disapproval mixed with displeasure, you are likely to hear about all the programming and statistical analysis that has to be done to gain meaningful results. Consider t he inevitable sensor drift
June 3, 2014, by Alison Ochs

Initial Impressions of the Summer Ahead

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
May 29, 2014, by Grace Barber

The 2014 Summer Program in Ecology has begun!

The 2014 Summer Research Students and their Mentors
The Harvard Forest was livened this week as 22 undergraduate students began the 11-week Summer Program in Ecology. These students will contribute skills, knowledge and hard work as they collaborate with scientists and professionals on projects ranging from improving the tools researchers use to document the steps in their statistical analyses to examining how climate change may indirectly affect carbon
February 14, 2014, by Clarisse Hart

Spotlight on Summer Students

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: Jennie Sirota (REU '12) and mentors Aaron Ellison and Ben Baiser made a splash in the news with their paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
August 6, 2013

Alumni profile: Where are you now?

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 What you miss most about the Summer Research program : Hanging out with my REU cohort. They were a really fun and diverse group. I learned a lot
August 6, 2013

Students' summer in pictures

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. They left this past weekend, some on Friday August 2 and some on Saturday August 3, with a phenomenal toolbox to draw from during later
August 2, 2013, by Shaylyn Adams

You down with DDG?

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
August 1, 2013

Alumni profile: Where are you now?

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. What you miss most about the Summer Research program : I miss the interaction with the mentors on a very casual basis. While some of the seminars were long, it was good
July 31, 2013, by Justin Vendettuoli

Wool-wearing villains

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
July 30, 2013, by Lake Boddicker

A thousand little blank puzzle pieces

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
July 29, 2013

Alumni profile: Where are you now?

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
July 26, 2013, by Vasco A. Carinhas

Exit the matrix

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
July 24, 2013

Alumni profile: Where are you now?

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
July 22, 2013, by Guillermo Terrazas

Did plants get that climate change memo?

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
July 19, 2013, by Johanna Recalde Quishpe

Your mind has just been BLOWN!

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
July 18, 2013

Alumni profile: Where are you now?

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: 
July 17, 2013, by Leah Nothnagel

Bonded

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
July 16, 2013

Alumni profile: Where are you now?

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
July 15, 2013, by George Andrews

Land use cartography 101

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
July 12, 2013, by Angus R. Chen

The smell of the future

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
July 11, 2013

Alumni profile: Where are you now?

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
July 10, 2013, by Justine Kaseman

Global warming in a plastic bucket

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.
July 8, 2013, by Lowell Chamberlain

This internship is painfully funny

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
July 5, 2013

Alumni profile: Where are you now?

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
July 3, 2013, by Pat O'Hara

Processing tree cores and other forest adventures

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
July 1, 2013, by Rebecca Walker

Finding the hay in a needle stack

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
June 28, 2013, by Mónica M. Allende Quirós

Where the edible wild plants are

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
June 26, 2013, by Amy Balint

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

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
June 21, 2013, by Christine Pardo

3 lessons REU taught me

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
June 18, 2013, by Sophie Bandurski

Quick! Identify this fern!

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
June 14, 2013, by Devin Carroll

Let's build a robot!

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. The primary goal of the robots from the above picture is to help people.
June 11, 2013, by Faith Neff

An insider's view of the natural history museum

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
June 11, 2013, by Hannah Wiesner

Snapshots from a forest: Comparing 1937, 1992 and 2013

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
June 11, 2013, by Channing Press

Wandering alone in a forest

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,
June 10, 2013, by David Miller

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

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
June 7, 2013, by James Lietner

The water project

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
June 7, 2013, by James Leitner

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

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. Hemlock trees can grow
June 5, 2013, by Arline Gould

Time lapse photography goes underground

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
June 4, 2013, by Dmitri Ilushin

Trees on fire

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. My research at the forest involves trying to extract the day that leaves come out and when they fall off. The thing is, we don't really notice when the world
June 3, 2013, by Trynn Sylvester

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

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
October 1, 2012

Spotlight on summer students

Just a few of the many accomplishments by Harvard Forest summer students past and present: Deepa Rao (REU '11) won the Christopher Goetze prize this year for best senior thesis in the Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science department at MIT. Her thesis, a continuation of her Harvard Forest summer project, was advised by her summer mentor, Laura Meredith. She and
August 10, 2012, by Snickers

The blog of an ecologist dog

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. When
August 10, 2012, by Yujia Zhou

Trees and bugs in computers

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
August 10, 2012, by Miruna Oprescu

Visualization tools for digital dataset derivation graphs

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
August 8, 2012, by Tiffany Carey and Courtney Maloney

Team ragweed

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
August 6, 2012, by Katherine Bennett

K-12 phenology lessons for the phenocam project

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

MODIS satellite imagery as applied to phenological assessment, team BU

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
August 6, 2012, by Dmitri Ilushin, Sascha Perry, and Hannah Skolnik

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

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
August 1, 2012, by Andrew Moe

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

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. More specifically, we are interested in looking at regeneration within stands of eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). Here in
August 1, 2012, by Yvan Delgado de la Flor

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

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
August 1, 2012, by Elizabeth Kennett

Part two of biotic change in hemlock forests - Rodents

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. The afternoon before this we had been out to the Ridge block, one of our two. Each block consists of four hemlock forest treatments. The first two treatments are
July 23, 2012, by Anne Cervas

Forest dynamics in former plantations

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
July 19, 2012, by Sonia Filipczak

Global warming and forest soil micro biomes

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

The adventures of taco

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. Our plots consist of three short but wide pieces of
July 11, 2012, by Laura Bartock and Emma Schnur

Conservation awareness

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
July 9, 2012, by Alexander Kappel and Paul Quackenbush

Forest and atmosphere dynamics

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. However, the mechanisms behind carbon
July 2, 2012, by Lauren Alteio

Soil microbial respiration in a warming world

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. Soil plots
June 25, 2012, by Matt Combs and Katie Davis

Global climate change with ants and slugs

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
June 25, 2012, by Julia Brokaw and Vincent Waquiu

Hemlock trees and their pests

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
June 18, 2012, by Jennie Sirota

Pitchers and their tipping points

My project for this summer studies the extraordinary carnivorous pitcher plant, Sarracenia purpurea . I am working with Aaron Ellison and Benjamin Baiser on a newly funded research project that studies the widespread issue of tipping points. Tipping points are the change from one state to another. These can occur in many different systems, such as in the atmosphere or
June 13, 2012, by Samuel Knapp

Underground photography of root growth

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
June 11, 2012, by Aubrie James and Kelsey McKenna

Butterflies and bumblebees

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. Since we’re both especially interested
June 4, 2012, by Tefiro Kituuka Serunjogi

Providing safe and clean water

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. My goal this summer is to build an implementable prototype of
May 30, 2012

What are you up to now?

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 What you miss most about the Summer Research program: Being around enthusiastic students with similar interests and spending all day in the hemlock forest
May 29, 2012

Harvard Forest 2012 summer research program kicks off!

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. As one student from Uganda, studying at Grinnell College in Iowa, will work on economically friendly water sanitation techniques for the poor populations
April 2, 2012

More summer research program alumni news

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. Maggie Wagner (REU '09) has earned an NSF GRFP fellowship to support her graduate work in conservation genetics at
January 17, 2012

Spotlight on summer students

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) Linn and Sofiya (REU '11) via Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts Alanna (REU '11) via San Juan College (p. 5) Tara (REU '11) via the U. of Massachusetts-Amherst Andrew (REU '11)
August 23, 2011, by Jakob Lindaas

Fine woody debris dynamics after an ice storm

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. These
August 23, 2011, by Tara and Kelden

Microbes in a warmer world

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

Ragweed in a changing climate

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. Our
August 23, 2011, by Laura Hancock

REU skydiving!

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
August 23, 2011, by Kate Eisen and Collette Yee

Sampling the lyford grid

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
August 23, 2011, by Ashley Golphin

Urban ecology

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. Urban greening is the expansion and conservation of vegetated areas in cities through local stewardship practices. For this
August 23, 2011, by Alena Tofte

Water transport in trees

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

"Warm ants"

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

Climate change impacts on phenology and ecosystem processes of northeastern forests

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
August 3, 2011, by Lindsay Day

Paleoecology lab

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
July 28, 2011, by Moshe Roberts, Summer Proctor

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

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!
June 23, 2011, by Moshe Roberts, Summer Proctor

Interns explore boston

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
June 20, 2011, by Rachel Brooks

Pitcher plant communities as model food webs

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

Soil carbon dynamics and its controls at Harvard Forest

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
June 9, 2011

What are you up to now?

Dunbar Carpenter REU '07 and '09 Mentors: Kristina Stinson, David Foster, Jonathan Thompson Project: Landscape-scale Ecological Drivers of Alliaria Petiolata Invasion in Western Massachusetts (2007); Biomass Energy and a Changing Forest Landscape: Modeling the Effects of Intensified Harvesting of Massachusetts' Forests for Biomass Energy Production (2009) Hometown: Portland, OR College and major: Harvard College, class of 2008, Organismic and Evolutionary
June 1, 2011

First weekend at Harvard Forest!

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
June 1, 2011

REU students and mentors participate in art and cultural programs

On Friday afternoon, students explored an open studio hosted by Harvard Forest’s artist in residence and Bullard Fellow, Debby Kaspari. Tara Mahendrarajah, a student attending the University of Massachusetts at Amherst exclaimed, “Her art was intricate and beautiful, depicting trees from Martha’s Vineyard and from across the region. She showed us her tools and instruments too and discussed her artistic
May 30, 2011

Welcome, REU 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
May 10, 2011

What are you up to now?

Cassandra Rivas REU '08 Mentor: Audrey Barker Plotkin Project: Forest type transition directly influences the seed bank Hometown: Edinburgh, TX College and major: University of Texas-Pan American, class of 2008, Biology/Music What you miss most about the REU program: I miss the east coast forests, the fire tower (great for meditation & an easy get-away), afternoon thunderstorms, and all the
November 22, 2010

Spotlight on summer students

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 Lianna with Sofiya and Cory (REU '10) at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts Andrea (REU '10) at Humboldt State University in California Margaurete (REU '10) at Saint Leo University in Florida Mickey (REU '10)
August 17, 2010, by Aleta Wiley

'10 REUs say goodbye to Harvard Forest, for now

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,
August 13, 2010, by Sarah Gray

A final excursion before the end of summer

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
August 12, 2010, by Aleta Wiley

REUs ace summer symposium!

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,
August 10, 2010, by Aleta Wiley

Harvard Forest get-together at the ESA annual meeting

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
August 10, 2010, by Elisabete (Baker) Vail

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

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
August 9, 2010, by Maddy Case and Joe Horn

Vegetation sampling in wildlands and woodlands

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. We carry 2-foot pieces of steel pipe into the woods (3 lbs per pipe
August 4, 2010, by Claudia Reveles, Joanna Blaszczak, and Maya Thomas

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

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. A preliminary map was generated using GIS to identify areas (polygons) in Prospect Hill
August 3, 2010, by Sofiya Taskova and Morgan Vigil

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

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". Our headquarters is located in the
August 2, 2010, by Sarah Gray

The delicious food for the Harvard Forest summer program

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
July 30, 2010, by Israel Marquez

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

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

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