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Undergraduate interns arrive for summer program in ecology

Tuesday, June 1, 2010, by Aleta
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34 undergraduate students have arrived as part of 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 research projects for twelve weeks. As thelargest cohort in the program's history, these students will work on a wide diversity of projects, covering topics such as land-use history, phenology, plant physiology, invasive species, insect ecology, and climate change. Students also participate in seminars, discussions on ethics in science, and career-building and community service opportunities. The program will culminate with a full-day symposium where each student will present his/her research and experiences from the summer.

REU Group Photo 2010

In their first week, students participated in a 2-day orientation which included learning safety protocols for lab and field work. By far, the highlight of safety training was practicing how to use a fire extinguisher! Students also learned orienteering skills using a map and compass in the forest and were educated on how to prevent tick bites throughout the summer. The orientation concluded with a thorough walk through Harvard Forest led by researchers who introduced the students to the large variety of ongoing experiments located throughout the property.

Starting Wednesday morning, students began meeting with their research mentors, learning how to identify plants and vegetation, collecting samples in the forest for analysis, and teaching each other how to use statistical programs they will need for their projects.

REU David Foster Walk 2010The highlight of the week was a walk through the woods with David Foster, Director of Harvard Forest. As the students learned the history of the landscape around them, Dr. Foster also taught the students the art of "focused walking": Walk briskly along a path to a stopping point, then pause to observe your natural surroundings. Repeat.