Undergraduate Research Fellows Blog

  • Prairie interns in front of our plots on our last day together

    Well, time on the prairie is coming to a close. Alice finished her last day yesterday, and Marion will also be gone after tomorrow afternoon. Then, it will just be me for one more week before I have to go back to school.

    But before this internship ends, we all made some interesting finds in our data analysis!

  • A laptop on a desk, displaying a flow chart whose arrows form the shape of a heart.
    In the books I’ve read, scientists are often portrayed as cold, calculating, and completely logical. Maybe some of them are. Maybe I’m just reading the wrong books, because I made a heart-shaped diagram. It makes me smile.
  • laptop

    I can’t believe I have only one full week left of my fellowship! I have been busy researching and preparing slides and a poster to present next week at the Morton Arboretum Undergraduate Research Symposium and later at the Field Museum for their symposium.

     

  • Drawing of a lake and a mountain with gases swirling inside

    Time for phase three of my summer adventure! We took a sojourn from extractions to fumigate the soil and prepare it for C:N analysis. In fumigation, chloroform gas is used to kill off any sort of microbial life in the soil, after which more extractions will take place. To prepare the samples for C:N analysis, we first dried and ground the soil. Then I placed the powdered soil into tiny foil boats and painstakingly folded them closed so that no soil is lost. A tragic fate awaits these precious little cubes of foil enclosed soil.

  • Picture of whiteboard with sloppy graphs scribbled on it, in front of a shelf of tree trunk cross-sections.
    It's easy to get carried away by what comes next. It's important to remind yourself what you have to work on right now.
  • Drawing of test tubes with funnels in them

    Upon completion of soil sampling in the forestry plots, we journeyed back to the lab where I would learn the fine art of extracting nutrients from the soil. 

  • Drawing of trees, a path, and a soil corer

    Hello Everyone!

    Environmental science student and tree enthusiast from Valparasio University here! This summer I have been working with Dr. Meghan Midgley in the soils lab. Everyday is an adventure! Therefore, I thought it fitting to draw out a map of my experience. Each post will contain a new section of the journey, a different phase of my summer. The goal is to convey the basics of our research project using as few words as possible. Quite the challenge! 

    Into the woods we go...Let the adventure begin! 

  • Screenshot data and graph that was created in RStudio
    All of my data is in! But wait, what do all of these numbers even mean? This summer I had to learn to use R to analyze my data.
  • soil samples

    Since my last post, I have been quite busy finishing up my research this summer!

    Our soil samples from Costa Rica have arrived and we started to collect data so we can compare the nutrients in the soil to the nutrients in the leaves that were collected.

  • Map of site

    Hello all!

    Since last time, my interns and I have done some more analysis on our data, but are not yet completely satisfied with our answers. Basically, we have our overall results, but now we want to specify the findings and hope to search for some distinct patterns, characteristics, etc. in our data. But meanwhile, we still spend most of our time on the prairie trying to get through weeding the whole site at least once (let me tell you, I thought it would have been an easier feat, but it has been a long, enduring time).

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