The Odd One Out

Thursday, August 17, 2017
I am categorizing the liatris plants based on their quality into a white binder for later data analysis
I am analyzing a liatris plot on site, and recording the state or quality the plants are in at the time

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. Normally, prairies can be left alone, not need to be watered or weeded every single day, but this is an on-going research project. It is our job to keep the plants in good condition, while keeping it a controlled experiment. My personal project I was working on, was included in this large, ongoing study, that was established back in 2015. It was hard to capture the idea and purpose behind the research, because there were so many terms and mechanisms to learn. When I first started, I felt pretty confident with understanding the purpose of this experiment, but, as time passed, there were more and more details that I realized I had forgotten about, or had yet to learn. It seemed like every week I was given more information about the project. This was very stressful. Not only did I need to understand every single detail of the large ongoing project, but I needed to tie it back to my personal project. It took a lot of time, reading and weekly meetings with my mentor, but I finally feel like I have a grasp on the information. In the end, I have realized that being a part of the science field, the odds are going to always be against you. It does not matter what you are studying, either your methods aren’t going to be sufficient, the results that you hoped for didn’t turn out the way you wanted them to, or there is no significance with what you are studying. However, that is the beauty of science. It teaches us to be experts in the learning process of “trial and error”. It helps to accept failure, as well as, pushes us to keep moving forward to find the true answers.