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Life at the Harvard Forest

Tuesday, July 24, 2018, by Grace Duah
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      Before spending the summer at Harvard Forest, I was not exposed to real scientists. Interning here this summer allowed me to both witness and learn from real life scientists; seeing their daily interaction with their research. Life at Harvard Forest is the right type of fast pace. Upon arrival I was nervous to be so far away from home for the first time but was soon welcomed by the warm faces of everyone.

      I personally thought of life at Harvard Forest as a trilogy consisting of research, logistics and food. All three components are drastically different, however not even one in my opinion is more important than the other. I was nervous about my research project in the first week as it exposed me to the statistical analysis program “ggplot” in R-studio which I never worked with previously. It was intimidating at first but as the days progressed I became more comfortable. My mentor and teammates were always eager to help with my learning process of R-Studio. As I am writing this I cannot name the numerous things that I have learned this summer in R-studio.    

     The second component encompasses seminars, car privileges and basic living conditions. The seminars highlighted the research of different researchers in the New England area. This was fantastic in exposing me to the many different things that researchers do. Do not be afraid to ask questions about research, graduate school, or how they got to where they are. These will be a great opportunity to get first-hand information directly from people who have gone through the process. Remember closed mouths do not get fed. Moreover, for a field research center the living conditions are amazing! Twin beds where linen is provided! You do not have to bring sheets for your bed when arriving, however you should bring cash to exchange for quarters to do laundry. Recreational equipment is provided i.e. Bicycles and gaming materials. Most importantly you have access to use the Harvard Forest vehicles to visit different areas in New England for an educational activity. New England is gorgeous I personally enjoyed visiting Cape Cod and will recommend it! Using the university’s car is such a privilege, and you should be careful with how you handle it. The program managers are understanding so I recommend being completely honest, and if you make a mistake like I did own up to it. Apologize and then take proactive measures to show that you’ve grown from your mistakes.     

     The last component of the trilogy is food. I will start by saying that the food is amazing here, the desserts are even better! The kitchen staff (Tim and Peter) are amazing and love when students help. They are also fantastic in making sure that everyone feels comfortable in the kitchen. A thing that I particularly enjoy is the chefs’ way of making everyone feel special on their birthday, by baking them their favorite cake.  Don’t be a stranger, stop by and lend a hand; they enjoy interacting with students.

     I know that all of this may be a lot to digest, however take a deep breath and relax. The Forest is honestly what you make of it. Be open to trying and learning new things. Most important have fun and good luck!


Grace is a rising Junior at Muhlenberg College studying Biochemistry.