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Summer Research Experience: Student Blog

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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 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 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 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
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 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
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 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
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 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 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 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
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 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 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
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 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
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
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 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
July 27, 2010, by Sarah Gray

Soil warming and hardwoods

Here at the Harvard Forest, I am working on the effects of soil warming on various hardwoods. There has already been an experiment to test the effects of global warming on soil. The 20-year-long experiment found that with increased soil temperatures there was an increase in microbial activity. This increase in microbial activity led to more usable nitrogen in the
July 16, 2010, by Crystal Garcia and Angie Marshall

The effects of large-scale deforestation

We are working in the clearcut up on Prospect Hill near the fire tower. Previously, this area was a spruce plantation, but 2 years ago, it was deforested and timber was harvested. This area is now used as a research site to highlight the effects of large-scale deforestation efforts. A flux-tower was set up in the middle of the area
July 7, 2010, by Fiona Jevon

Measuring carbon sequestration at Harvard Forest

Hi! I’m Fiona, and I work for Leland Werden, Bill Munger, and the Wofsy Group at Harvard University. The project that I am involved with this summer is looking at the influence of understory vegetation on carbon sequestration in the Harvard Forest. This is one small part of a much larger project, which has been going on here for the
June 30, 2010, by Samuel Perez

Fungal diversity in response to nitrogen deposition and soil warming

Hello everyone, my name is Samuel Perez and I am working on microbial communities at Harvard Forest with Professor Anne Pringle from Harvard University. I am a rising senior majoring in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. This summer, I am working with decomposer fungi in the Chronic Nitrogen Plots and the Soil Warming Plots in Barre Woods. My project at the
June 11, 2010, by Aleta Wiley: REU Summer Proctor

“What these numbers actually mean”

Maya, Joanna, and Claudia using a Portable Photosynthesis System.
Yesterday, I tagged along with three students working on a collaborative project who were out, collecting data in the field, for the first time this summer without their research mentors. It is amazing how much they all have learned in less than two weeks here at Harvard Forest! For their project, they are studying changes in soil respiration under varying