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Summer Research Experience: Student Blog

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August 8, 2018, by Clarisse Hart

Summer Students in the Spotlight

For many students, the Harvard Forest Summer Research Program doesn't end in August. Many continue to work with their mentors to complete a senior thesis, publish a paper in a scientific journal, or present at a scientific meeting. Some also have their work featured by their home news organizations.
July 25, 2018, by Jerilyn Jean M. Calaor

Farm to Fun

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.
July 24, 2018, by Nia Riggins

Blue vs. Wild

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
July 24, 2018, by Faizal Westcott

Hemlock Hospice Documentary - Work In Progress

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
July 24, 2018, by Grace Duah

Life at the Harvard Forest

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
July 20, 2018, by Annina Kennedy-Yoon

Sketches of New England Wildlife

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
July 19, 2018, by Kyle Wyche

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

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
July 18, 2018, by Ruth van Kampen

Fields of View

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
July 18, 2018, by Joe Wonsil

The Forest

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
July 13, 2018, by Meghan Slocombe

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

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
July 13, 2018, by Emory Ellis

The FUNstrations of Field Work

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
July 10, 2018, by Seanne Clemente

It’s Just a Name – Don’t Sweat It

“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
July 9, 2018, by Saloni Shah

Fashion Forward Forest Style Guide

Saloni is a rising Senior at Boston University studying Earth and Environmental Sciences.
July 6, 2018, by Evan Waldmann

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

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
July 6, 2018, by J. Marcos Rodriguez

The Keys to a Good Research Community

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
July 4, 2018, by Monica Velasco

Things to Know About HF

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
July 3, 2018, by Shreena Pyakurel

A Day as a Harvard REU Student

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
July 3, 2018, by Katja Diaz-Granados

Under Pressure

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
June 29, 2018, by Brooklynn Davis

README

tldr: Harvard Forest REU has the perfect setup (no worries about housing, food, or having fun, they provide it all!) to give its students a true research experience, and experience is the most effective teacher. So I just finished my first semester as a declared environmental science major. Before that I was pre-med (we all go through that phase, right?),
June 29, 2018, by Laura Puckett

Tree Mortality Project

When I tell people that I am studying forest ecology, they probably assume that I am studying the living organisms in forests. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. This summer, I am focused on dead trees. This is because we want to develop a better understanding of the rate of tree mortality and causes of tree mortality here. Trees are
June 27, 2018, by Maggie Anderson

Ants and Trees - A Blog-Cast

Listen to the podcast with the link below! https://soundcloud.com/user-953046408/ants-trees-a-blog-cast Maggie is a rising Senior at Lawrence University studying Biology.
June 27, 2018, by Eva Paradiso

Some of what goes unnoticed: A glimpse underground

When you first walk into the Harvard Forest during the prime summer days you might notice the large patch of poison ivy filling the forest floor, the countless tree trunks creating a maze throughout the forest, or the green leaves obscuring the sky. If you listen closely, you will hear the sounds of the forest: birds calling, chipmunks, squirrels, mosquitoes
June 25, 2018, by Max Ferlauto

What does a forest look like in 2318?

Somehow your body gets frozen for three hundred years. Maybe you fell through a lake in the middle of winter and froze solid, maybe Darth Vader threw you in carbonite, maybe you were forgotten in a cryogenic chamber. In any case, you are revived three hundred years later and wake up in a hospital. After the nurses perform their tests
June 22, 2018, by Emilio Arias

Pictures Worth A Thousand Words

I grew up in Miami, surrounded by a vibrant tropical landscape... Then I moved to Atlanta for school and fell in love with the city and the nature... And now I'm in Massachusetts excited to explore its forests! Field work began rather quickly but we found ways to lighten up the day. Our first weekend we visted Tully Lake and
June 20, 2018, by Kyra Hoerr

Blog…Cast! (A Harvard Forest Podcast)

Listen by clicking the image below! Kyra is a rising Junior at Bryn Mawr College studying Philosophy.
June 20, 2018, by Orenna Brand

Coding Explained in Three Comics

This summer, I’m working on the Data Provenance in R project. It is essentially a programming job. And, unfortunately, frustration is a part of the job of software engineering. But, comedy is born out of frustration, and so here we are. My experience thus far can be best described with these three comics: 1. It’s important to practice good style.
June 18, 2018, by Jon Hamilton

The Forest--Spooky Stories for Prospective Students

7:45. Night descending. Mosquitoes coming out. Trees tossing shade. Not an ideal time for a run, but I began it anyways. Out I went, venturing from Shaler Hall toward the Hemlock Hospice, a mile into the Forest. Slowly, light faded. I turned left, heading into the Hospice, hoping to cut through to the road on the other side. Fun fact
August 2, 2017

What’s Out There?: A Small Yet Large Study of Harvard Forest

This summer I am working under Sydne Record and John Grady’s project on seedling dynamics. I chose this internship to get more of a feel for the ecological field that I was introduced to a few years ago, and to continue research in Sydne’s lab at my home institution. The aim of my project is to understand seedling population dynamics,
August 1, 2017, by Salua Rivero

From the Zen Garden to the Zen Forest

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
July 27, 2017, by Corey Carter

Kuzushi: The gentle art of balance

Corey at Tram
The forest is like a living organism, it breathes and expels water much like we breathe air. This process of evapotranspiration is… I’m sorry I can’t do this, every blog post, every year talks about the same thing, in a slightly different way. I’m going to talk to about something that has helped me during some dark times and it
July 26, 2017, by Karina Martinez

Attack of the Invasive Species: Garlic Mustard and Exotic Earthworms Affect Plant Diversity

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
July 21, 2017, by Sarah Pardi

Can Manganese Help Save the World from Climate Change? Let’s Find Out!

Sarah performing pyrophosphate mineral extractions. Photo by Alex Gamble
Each morning after I eat breakfast with my fellow researchers/friends, I make my daily commute to University of Massachusetts, Amherst. It’s a beautiful 45 minute drive along windy roads through dense forest and quaint rural towns. Upon arrival at Paige Lab, I get to work on the soil samples I’ve collected from our plot back at Harvard Forest. My research
July 21, 2017, by Jolene Saldivar

When Phenology Meets Technology

Phenology is the biological response to the changing seasons. Day length, temperature, precipitation, and other factors drive leaf-out and leaf fall in trees. In order to avoid undergoing damage by putting their leaves out too early as winter transitions to spring, trees require a particular amount of sunlight each day before leaves can emerge. Similarly, when the hours of daylight
July 18, 2017, by Jen Johnson

Cooking With a Laptop?

Visual representation of flow
How are data analysis and the collection of provenance like cooking? Data analysis is based on datasets, like those collected in the field and laboratory. Datasets are the basis for the rest of the analysis and represent the raw ingredients of a meal. Next, analyses are performed on these datasets. There is a wide variety of possible analyses to perform,
July 17, 2017, by Nicholas Patel

White Oak Regeneration, Is It a Crisis or Not?

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
July 13, 2017, by Colleen Smith

The Smallest of the Small, a Step into the Unknown

canopy photo taken with the hemispherical camera
7:00 am Snooze 7:10 am Snooze 7:30 am Wake up, pull on cargo pants, lace up boots 8:10 am Breakfast 9:00 am Walk onward into the lair of the mosquitos with my net on and trustee meter stick in hand This is more or less how I’ve begun each of my days here at Harvard Forest. I have a schedule,
July 13, 2017, by Connor Gregorich-Trevor

Where did that data come from, anyway?

Imagine that you've found an interesting piece of research, but you feel that it left certain questions unanswered. So you decide to start your own project based on this research. But when you go to begin, you find out that the authors gave almost no information about how they obtained their data. You don't know what kind of programs they
July 12, 2017, by States Labrum

There’s More to the Soil Than You Think

Chloroform addition to measure microbial biomass. Photo by Aaron Aguila
From Spring Hill, Tennessee to Petersham, Massachusetts, I am so thankful to have the opportunity to be here at Harvard Forest. I have learned so much in the short time that I have been here. There are so many outdoor activities to do around the area and there is always something fun going on. All the REU students stay together
July 12, 2017, by Valentin Degtyarev

Trust Me, I’m an Engineer… in the Forest.

Tram starting to move
When you think of someone who is in the field of Computer Engineering, you picture someone who sits indoors in their little cubicle, working with a computer all day. Even when you Google search a computer engineer, you are only shown pictures of geeks like me working indoors, sticking their hands in the complicated wiring of a computer system. That’s
July 9, 2017, by Aaron Aguila

Everyone’s trying to avoid ticks here this summer, I’m trying to find them

Aaron taking samples
When most people think of infectious diseases they think of the common cold, the flu, diseases that we give to each other. Some of the world’s worst outbreaks, however, happened when people moved into uninhabited places or made changes to those local habitats. This summer I have been researching how the makeup of a forest after it has been harvested
July 7, 2017, by Caitlin Keady

Asking the hard questions… about extreme events and tree response

Caitlin showing off core
Who remembers last year’s drought? Well, the trees sure do. Imagine the beginning of spring, when leaves are starting to return and wildflowers are blooming. Then picture a sudden overnight frost. All those plants and trees that were kicking off their growing season likely went into shock and halted growth. Even though the frost only lasted one night, it may
July 6, 2017, by Jerilyn Jean M. Calaor

A Piece of Home Where the Cows Roam

Marking the coordinates on Harvard Farm
“Welcome to Boston,” a voice over the airplane intercom announced. Already 7,955 miles away from home, I still had an hour-long car ride ahead of me. I fought through heavy eyes as the city skyscrapers blurred into towering trees. Finally, we turned onto a dirt road, and the 22 hours of travel to Petersham came to an end. Stepping out
July 5, 2017, by Johnny Buck

Novel Methods, let’s have a party in the Harvard Forest!

Harvard Forest Barn Tower
Don’t you just love the emergence of plants in the spring or the changes in leaf coloring of trees in the fall? I’ve always admired the beauty and complexity of these events growing up. If you really pay attention to nature, you notice the first and last signs of insects at certain times of year, and when the migration of
June 30, 2017, by Alina Smithe

Moo-ve Over Forest! It’s Time to Make Roam for the Grasslands

Cows in Field
Imagine a sea of green grass swaying in the wind, sprawling mountains in the distance, cows browsing at their leisure. This is probably not the view that comes to mind when you picture Harvard Forest. But here at the Harvard Farm, an abandoned golf course on the outskirts of the forest that is now maintained as agricultural grassland, ecological research
June 29, 2017, by Molly Leavens

Let’s C About Carbon Capture

Measuring in Transect
Climate change is happening and it is stressing me out. Humans are releasing exorbitant amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and simultaneously cutting down forests, a mechanism that re-captures this carbon dioxide. This imbalance is making the world HOT and unleashing innumerable global ecological, financial, and health consequences. The story of climate change
August 2, 2016, by Patrick McKenzie

Improving Forest Change Modeling, One Parameter at a Time

Alongside uncertainty about the stability of future climate conditions comes uncertainty about future landscapes: Where will our forests be in 200 years? Forest landscape models have been designed to address this. Forest landscape models take small-scale ecological phenomena and apply them across large spatial and/or temporal scales. LANDIS-II (“LANdscape DIsturbance and Succession”) is a forest landscape model that consists of
August 1, 2016, by Ian Smith

Life on the Edge

Despite being conducted in rural Petersham, Massachusetts, the inspiration for my summer research project comes from patterns observed in urban environments. We live in a growing world in which cities are expanding, both in terms of population and geography. As cities sprawl outwards, forested regions, such as New England, are converted into fragmented landscapes where the forest is interrupted by
July 31, 2016, by Rebecca Sparks

The Great Coarse Woody Adventure

Amid the rolling hills and towering trees of Petersham, Massachusetts, this summer I’ve had the opportunity to research carbon storage dynamics in Harvard Forest. At a time when humans are releasing unprecedented levels of carbon into the atmosphere, a comprehensive understanding of carbon dynamics is more important than ever. While many consequences of this change are known, there is still
July 30, 2016, by Alice Linder

Scratch and Sniff: A Lesson in Plant Identification

When I was quite young, my parents would page through picture books with me, pointing out the different animals in the illustrations. Once I noticed an animal or shape I’d seen before, I insisted (in the way only a 2-year-old can) that we look through all of the other books to find that same animal. As we found each appearance
July 29, 2016, by Nathan Stephansky

Isn't that Neat?!

The only constant is change, so I’ve heard. Therefore, life is not about changing the future to attain some desirable outcome, which can be difficult, perhaps impossible, in our ever-changing world. Rather, life is about understanding the present to predict the future to guide us through the unknown. With the changing climate, predicting how ecosystems around the world will respond
July 28, 2016, by Moe Pwint Phyu

Dealing with (Computer) Bugs in the Forest

Imagine you are a scientist with amazing data sets trying to make a groundbreaking discovery. But first, you need to replicate the way that an earlier scientist analyzed data sets for you to contextualize the experiment. And you painstakingly replicate every step of the whole analysis, but then you run into bug after bug in your code. You finally figure
July 27, 2016, by Sydney-Alyce Bourget

The Invasion of Garlic Mustard Plants: The Aliens of Nature

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
July 26, 2016, by Rebeca Bonilla

Knowing the Dirt on Soil Microbial Respiration

I’ve been avoiding this for so long. No matter how cool I think this project is and no matter how much I love experimenting on these tiny organisms, I keep it hidden from her. She has no idea what I’m doing. I know that she'll find out eventually, but for now I've been keeping it hushed up. She knows I’m
July 22, 2016, by Kate Anstreicher

Blowing Bubbles for the Sake of Science

Preview Haiku: (You will understand it by the end of my blog post!) Air-Seeding Threshold: pressure bomb, micropipette… darn. Open vessel. You may see a trend in our 2016 blog post introductions: most students at the Harvard Forest this summer are studying the impact of climate change on the New England forest system. But as you have likely also noticed,
July 22, 2016, by Sarah Goldsmith

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

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
July 20, 2016, by Alex Salinas

Field Experiments: The Struggle is Real

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
July 19, 2016, by Siqing "Alex" Liu

Data is Eating Ecology: How We Make Sense of It

Marc Andreessen famously proclaimed that “software is eating the world,” and to me, data is certainly eating up ecology. Andreessen meant that software is fundamentally changing how companies and economies work, and that the incumbents will be taken over by software companies. Though not a direct analogy, data is changing ecology by impacting every stage of the scientific enterprise, from
July 12, 2016, by Melinda Paduani of the Disturbance Dynamics Duo

Tree Rings, Disturbance, and Life under the Scope

Consider the major events that you have experienced throughout your life. Some people keep mementos and souvenirs to remember the places they have been to or take photos to look back at what they saw; others only have their memories. Trees, on the other hand, “write their stories” in their rings. The patterns that they form serve as a visual
July 11, 2016, by Karina Agbisit

Climate Change Characters

Think of the most negative and dismissive response to the question of whether climate change is happening. Some things that come to mind are probably yelling, denying, references to private property rights, and bashing left-leaning politicians. Now think of the most positive and affirmative response to the same question—dedication to reducing reliance on fossil fuels, references to scientific studies, and
July 11, 2016, by Kate Rawson

I Dream of Gmail

Dreaming of email, surveys, and spreadsheets.
Which tool is the most important for ecological research? A. Plant identification sheet B. Soil corer C. Microscope D. Map and Compass E. Statistical analysis software What if I told you that the correct answer was F: none of the above and that really, the most important thing for ecological research was a properly functioning email account? Would you believe
July 8, 2016, by Anna Calderon

Coding the Future (of Ants)

What if you could see into the future? Perhaps you are interested in knowing where your favorite animal or plant may be located fifty or one hundred years from now. It might be difficult to imagine what the world would look like, but species distribution models attempt to do just that. A species distribution model (SDM) is a method used
July 7, 2016, by Lauren Ebels

Ecology Technology: Where Computer Science and Climate Change Collide

In a time when unpredictable weather events like droughts and floods are on the rise and water is thought to be “the next oil” of the world, understanding water reserves in forests is extremely relevant. Our project at Harvard Forest focuses on transpiration—the process of water movement through plants—and strategies for effective long term observation of overall forest health. While
July 6, 2016, by Anna Mayrand

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

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
June 28, 2016, by Molly Wieringa

From the Ground Up: What’s Going On With Young Hemlocks?

The first thing I would have anyone know about me is that I’m in love with the color green—the green of leaves and grasses and the edge of the sunset. It’s a color with a thousand shades and tints, a color that dances with light and seems strangely alien in any setting but the natural one. Luckily, there’s a lot
June 27, 2016, by Megan Wilcots

Change is Underfoot

With all the talk of climate change and increased CO 2 emissions wreaking havoc on the globe’s ecosystems, you might think that all the carbon we’re emitting is going straight into the atmosphere, condemning us to a sticky, sweaty future. But, in fact, the global climate has a secret, and it’s beneath your feet. Global soils contain more carbon than
June 23, 2016, by Alex Widstrand

What Has Transpired Here? Automating Sap Flow Measurements to Track Forest Health

One of the most direct ways to track forest health is through water content – and in a forest, water is everywhere , from the soil, to the trunks, to the leaves and even the air. Tree sap itself is comprised of at least 90% water. But when water is everywhere, measuring it reliably gets tricky. Since most of the
June 22, 2016, by Katie Polik

Soil Science: Sifting, Sampling, and CO2

When most people think of greenhouse gases they think of smoke stacks, car exhaust, and fossil fuels. These all lead to more carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) entering the atmosphere, driving climate change. But there’s another source of CO 2 doesn’t come to mind quite as readily, and it’s right beneath your feet: soil. Soil isn’t all bad news. As
June 14, 2016, by Anna Guerrero

Drawing Conclusions: The Art of Forests over Time

Think of your favorite tree. Is it a sprawling red oak, dominating the landscape? Perhaps it is an elegant quaking aspen, shaking in the summer breeze. Can you tell me how old it is? Can you tell me the history of the surrounding trees and the land? Can you say how it will look in 10 years? 50 years? 250
August 4, 2015, by Cody Raiza

East Coast Dreamin’: Six or Eight Legs at a Time

Arriving to Harvard Forest from drought stricken California, I could have never imagined a place with so much water and lush green vegetation; precipitation so thick that the trees "rain" for hours after warm summer showers, rivers hugging every winding country road, and lakes bursting at the seams. New England is a magical place where no one must consider turning
August 3, 2015, by Josia DeChiara

Some Genes Like It Hot

Biology is a 3D puzzle; an infinitely large logic game with the universe, made up of numerous rings, bars, and strings inexplicably intertwined. A scientist attempts to make sense of these knots, looking for patterns in the pathways. This summer, I have been trying to trace these connections in strings of DNA in hopes of uncovering the story of soil
August 2, 2015, by Mayra Rodríguez-González

How to roll your R’s like a scientist! / Aprendiendo la R científica

[The English version of this post is followed by a Spanish version, also written by Mayra.] In a world where both natural and human driven disturbances have caused an array of changes in the landscape, we would expect that land-use and land-cover change could become either an asset or a threat to our environment. Here at the Harvard Forest the
July 30, 2015, by Nathan Justice

Ecological Tipping Points and Warning Signs

It takes a very special kind of person to be an ecologist. They must be tenacious, inquisitive, and most importantly, they must demonstrate unyielding optimism. A common goal amongst ecological scientists is to better understand the world around us, and to capitalize on this knowledge in order to facilitate Nature's narrative with minimal human interruption. Ecology, along with sibling-branches like
July 29, 2015, by Roxanne Hoorn

Brutally Honest with Ants: "That’s not your color"

Integration of the arts into ecology research seems like an idea whose time has finally come. Unfortunately, nature doesn't seem eager to embrace this expressive movement in the form incorporated in my research: the painting of ants. Nevertheless, as part of our summer project, my research partner Cody Raiza and I would find a colony of our ant genus of
July 27, 2015, by Julia Fisher

Some Important Small Things

Mass extinction. Climate Change. Drought. Buzzwords that the media has been shouting out to the world with dire predictions of impending doom. Words that seem too large and far away to fit into our daily lives. My study at the Harvard Forest aims to shed light on all of these things, beginning at a scale too small to see without
July 24, 2015, by Megan Shadley

Getting to the Bottom of Paleoecology

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
July 23, 2015, by Alana Thurston

Fun in a Warming Forest

Let's play a word association game: Climate change. Rising waters, acidifying oceans, species migration and extinction, extreme weather, and an ever-warming climate. Yes, all of these things and more. And while these are all of global concern, how about the impacts of climate change on a smaller, more regional level? Here at Harvard Forest, we're asking exactly that. Currently, Harvard
July 21, 2015, by Tess McCabe

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

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
July 8, 2015, by Brittany Cavazos

Balancing Conservation and Agriculture at the Farm

This summer, my project is a bit different than most of the other students’ here. While the general idea of conservation is about saving the forest, my project involves protecting open areas, like pastures – or, in this case, an old golf course of the Petersham Country Club. The thing is, most of Massachusetts has been reforested over the last
July 6, 2015, by Natalie Gonzalez

No Such Thing As Too Much Garlic? Think Again!

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
July 3, 2015, by Katrina Fernald

Katrina and the Hurricane: Telling a story with dead wood

Harvard Forest is a place with history. Our home for the summer was originally built in the 1700's, on our second day, we visited a 400-year-old black gum tree, and the bowls in our kitchen probably date from the end of the Stone Age. Harvard has owned this patch of forest in Petersham, Massachusetts since 1907, and the amount of
June 26, 2015, by Harry Stone

Bienvenue à la Forêt Harvard

"You're bringing leaves and stem samples across the border?" the CPB (Customs and Border Patrol) Agent asks quizzically at our car. How to respond in a short answer? "For ecological research" was the meek reply we settled on, and with a grunt the agent pulled us aside for further questioning. This interaction occurred yesterday on my return trip from the
June 24, 2015, by Forrest Lewis

Seeing Forrest through the Trees

Forrest Lewis and Evan Goldman at Harvard Forest
I've heard a lot of puns, jokes, and quips since starting my research internship at the Harvard Forest last month. But I guess when your parents name you after a bohemian misspelling of a New England biome, you get what you deserve. So whether it was destiny, free will, or "Popular Baby Names 1995" that brought me here, I've come
August 15, 2014, by Bruce McAlister

EEcology

I am not a scientist; I am an engineer. . . . Which makes my employment at an ecological research station a little odd. However, it is perfectly natural to have engineers here, it turns out - as long as you don't have too many. Scientists need specialized tools for research. Engineers are just the right people to create these
August 10, 2014, by Ivonne Trujillo

Impacts of Climate Change on the Rhythm of the spring in Northeast Deciduous Forests

This summer I had the opportunity to be an REU student for the Richardson Lab. It seems as if it’s the first week, and not the last week of the program. I’ve learned so much in this short period of time, and I will bring what I learned back to my university in Texas. This summer, I focused on the
August 4, 2014, by Sidni Frederick

Drones in the Service of Our Forests

If you've spent any time alive on this planet, you've probably noticed that things here work in cycles – the sun passes overhead daily, we complete one revolution around the sun every year, and the slight tilt of our planet's axis subsequently yields seasonal changes in time with these astronomical movements. The lives of plants here on earth are guided
July 30, 2014, by Joel

Small mammal summer

My mentor Allyson Degrassi and I use mark and recapture methods to study small mammal populations and community dynamics in relation to hemlock decline. Degrassi is an ecologist and mammalogist who is training me in a variety of techniques that I plan to apply in future veterinary medicine work. Not only does she train and advise me on my future,
July 30, 2014, by Alison Ochs

Taking Time for a Look Back

Almost ten weeks in and it feels like I've only just arrived. When I first got here, I felt like I'd have all the time in the world to finish my project, and now deadlines are approaching and it's time to crunch. I based my independent project off of the project my mentor, Ahmed Hassabelkreem, has been working on. My
July 28, 2014, by Alayna Johnson

Clear-cuts and carbon fluxes: observing change at Harvard Forest

I came to Harvard Forest with only a vague idea as to just how expansive and diverse the forests of New England are and with the intention of studying a scene that would have been commonplace here just over a hundred years ago – regenerating forests. With both climate change and deforestation being pressing global ecological issues, my lab group
July 25, 2014, by Jessica Asirwatham

Modeling photosynthesis in the canopy

Forests play a large role in the global carbon cycle. Forests uptake atmospheric carbon through photosynthesis; and release carbon back into the atmosphere through plant and microbial respiration. Statistical models have been developed to better understand gas exchange between the atmosphere and plants. These models calculate the rate of photosynthesis in leaves given the physical conditions the leaves are experiencing.
July 18, 2014, by Nikki Hoffler

Updating the Recipe Book

A chef can spend years finding the right ingredients and steps to create a perfect dish. We would think she was crazy if she never wrote down the recipe to repeat her masterpiece after all that work. Yet, we don't bat an eye when scientists publish their results without explaining the data and calculations they used in enough detail to
July 17, 2014, by Simone Johnson

Too Hot for Salamanders and Newts to Trot?

Harvard Forest is dominated by a coniferous species called Eastern Hemlock, but due to an insect pest known as the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, the hemlocks are dying. This, in turn, affects the habitat in which Red-backed salamanders and Red-spotted newts live. The changing climate also affects the habitat of these cute little creatures. Salamanders are smooth and slimy, which many
July 13, 2014, by Jess Robinson

Up Close and Personal with Hemlock Forests

As I stood looking down at a forest of green, I started to feel a welling emotion within me. Maybe a feeling of awe. Perhaps nausea due to a fear of heights. I just couldn’t help but admire the capacity a forest has to work as a single organism, similarly to the way that hundreds of bees make up an
July 11, 2014, by Laura Figueroa

Troubleshooting: the key to success

I arrived this summer with a general idea of the research I was to conduct and the environment where I would be: study climate change ecology and live in a house full of college students. This summer has proven to be so much more. I have fine-tuned my research skills in ways that I never would have expected and have
July 1, 2014, by Ada Vilches

The soil is alive……with microorganisms

Have you ever thought about what is under your feet? What is the ground you step on composed of? Well, no matter where you are on land, you are most likely either standing on soil or on something that rests on it. Thus, all terrestrial life is supported by soil at some level, but what really lives in it? This
June 26, 2014, by Ariel da Cruz Reis

How Far is Too Far for an Ant?

Everybody, at some point of their lives, has had some sort of contact with these little and fascinating beings! Of course, I am talking about ants. Ants are hard workers, some species are capable of carrying 100 times their own body weight; they are spread out all over the planet, except for Antarctica and Greenland; they represent a large portion
June 25, 2014, by Joshua Alaniz

A Day in the Life of a Junior Forester

I wake up to a sun that likes to rise at 5 A.M. and doesn't let me go back to sleep. I tuck in two tattered shirts that attempt to protect me from the ocean of blackberry thorns and mosquitos that seem to be drinking DEET after their blood meal. My pants are crammed into heavy wool socks to keep
June 24, 2014, by Marisa

The Roots of the Matter

I showed up at Harvard Forest blissfully ignorant of all the possible diseases you can get from tromping around in the forest all day, not to mention with an admittedly cloudy understanding of the day to day realities of ecological research. Three weeks later, my paranoia-induced googling has me well-versed on the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease and Eastern
June 18, 2014, by Grace Barber

A Trip to the Harvard University Museums

Inside the Harvard Museum of Natural History, on display behind glass cases, are tip-of-the-iceberg objects. These are what more than 200,000 visitors a year come to see. They include striking displays of ornate beetles, mounted specimens of birds with brilliant feathers, ancient fossils, and hand-crafted, glass replicas of flowers and sea creatures. The quality of these objects is high, as
June 18, 2014, by Heather Clendenin

Top Predators: What Wolves and Wolf Spiders Have in Common

People understand ripples: you throw a stone into the middle of a pond, and the effects of that action carry on far past where the stone broke the surface of the water. For me, studying ecology has always been somewhat analogous to watching ripples on a pond: the members of an ecosystem respond to each other through their various relationships,
June 12, 2014, by Maria Orbay-Cerrato

My First Lake Coring Trip

Since I arrived at Harvard Forest, I've heard my mentor, Wyatt Oswald, use some variation of the phrase "when you go down into the mud, you go back in time" on various occasions. This concept, officially called "the law of superposition", hinges on the simple observation that younger layers of sediment are deposited over older layers. By looking through a

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