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Welcome, REU 2011!

Monday, May 30, 2011
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32 students arrived this week for 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 ecology-based research for eleven weeks. These students will work on a wide diversity of projects, focusing on plant physiology, invasive species, insect ecology, land-use history, phenology, and climate change. Students also get to participate in seminars, discussions on ethics in science, and career-building opportunities. The program will culminate with a full-day symposium where each student presents his or her research and experiences from the summer.

In their first week, students participated in orientation where they learned important safety protocols for their lab and fieldwork. Students also learn 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 walk through Harvard Forest led by researchers who introduced the students to the large variety of ongoing experiments located throughout the property.


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

Rachel Brooks, a senior at the University of Vermont, with the guidance of her mentor, scientist Aaron Ellison, used pipettes to gather the inner contents of insectivorous pitcher plants in Harvard Forest’s Tom swamp, in order to study the larvae utilizing this unique habitat. 

Collette Yee and Katie Eisen (College of San Mateo and Amherst College respectively), and their mentor, scientist Audrey Barker-Plotkin, study the long-term importance of dominant oaks and subordinate red maples in the Lyford grid of Harvard Forest in terms of carbon storage, forest habitat and timber value.


The Lyford grid is a 3 hectare permanent plot first mapped in 1969, and every 10 years since for over 40 years, allowing detailed analysis of population-level change over time.
With over 10 different research projects being conducted simultaneously, along with fun trips, special programming and seminars, this summer promises to be exciting!