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A Day as a Harvard REU Student

Tuesday, July 3, 2018, by Shreena Pyakurel
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It is 7:00 AM on a Friday and I wake up as I remember that it is Friday, or as Jerilyn, one of my research partners, says Chai Day! Friday is a special day because it starts with enjoying Tim’s amazing hot breakfast with chai. I think almost everyone makes it to Friday breakfast even if they do not make it to other days, and everyone is generally in high spirits as we plan our weekend trips while enjoying delicious food.

[Breakfast with chai!]


Fast forward to 9:00 AM and now it is time to start our workday. This summer I am working with my mentor Martha Hoopes, and my amazing research partners on the Harvard Farm. Together we make up the invasion team. My research partners and I gather in front of our office in Torrey to come up for a game plan for the day. As a team, we are trying to understand long-term effects of grazing on a pasture landscape and the role that invasive species have when there is disturbance. My project specifically looks at the role of Trifolium repens, or white clover has to play on the growth of invasive species. The invasive species that I am looking at is Cirsium vulgare or bull thistle. My project is split into two parts, part one is a greenhouse experiment where I look at the above and below the impact of white clover on the growth of thistle by looking at the impact of soil and litter of clover on the growth of thistle.  The second part looks at the distribution of thistle and clover in the field in which I am attempting to map thistle and clover densities across the field to see if there is a pattern showing that they overlap. Today we decide to spend that day in the greenhouse grinding litter and sieving soil that we are collecting from the farm and prepare our greenhouse experiment.

[Jerilyn, Seanne, and I grinding litter and sieving soil for our experiment!]












As 12:00 PM hits we rush to lunch as every Friday, Tim prepares a barbeque style lunch with hamburger and fries! Friday lunches are always a hit as everyone including mentors join us for lunch. Lunchtime always passes in a blur as it is now 1:00 PM and we head back to work. Our day in the greenhouse today is filled with us sieving soil which sounds mundane, but suddenly becomes fun as we have our own karaoke party in the greenhouse for 4 hours and suddenly it is 5:00 PM.  As the workday ends and we all return to our respective houses, Fisher or Raup House, for dinner. Friday is unlike other days where we do not eat in the dining hall, but instead, we eat food in our houses with the food that Tim has prepared for us for the weekend. Friday nights for me usually consist of me either working on a puzzle after dinner or relaxing by watching a movie with my housemates.








I hope you enjoyed reading about a snapshot of my time here at Harvard Forest. Time is flying by with the program being halfway over it is hard to imagine doing something else this summer!


Shreena is a rising Senior at Mount Holyoke College studying Biology and Geography. 

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