Undergraduate Research Fellows Blog
When I started this summer, I treated gathering my data as the end goal. Like the “X” marking the treasure on a map, I assumed that if I could just get all the data - collect all the samples, measure all the ring widths, cross-date all the trees - that everything else would fall into place.
My love for science and ecology, specifically, is not a passion many other people have. I go to a school where being an engineer is glorified and studying buisness is seen as prestigious. When people say they are studying engineering or business, to someone they know or to a complete random stranger, they are instantly impressed and praise them. It is always the typical “Good for you!” or “Wow, that must be really hard, you must be very smart”. I am studying environmental science.
The prairie restoration experiment ongoing at the Morton Arboretum is a lot more than just pretty flowers and phylogenetic diversity. In order to study this prairie, and get significant, controlled, results, there is a lot of maintenance work that goes into it. I started at the Morton Arboretum on May 22nd, and every day, we were out in the field weeding. I have weeded before, so it seemed like an easy job to me. However, that was not the case. There are a total of 437 2x2 meter plots on site.
I am the only undergraduate research fellow to be studying something other than trees at the Morton Arboretum. At first, I felt proud. I worked in a prairie last summer, so to have the opportunity to work in a prairie again, while conducting research, was exciting. However, as time passed, I felt like the odds were against me. Prairie restoration is a lot of work. There is a lot of time and effort that goes into the process of maintaining the prairie.