My name is Taskeen Khan and I am one of the Undergraduate Research Fellows this summer at the Morton Arboretum. I am a rising sophomore from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, majoring in integrative biology. I live a short drive from the arboretum, so getting a new perspective on the place I come with my family to enjoy the fall leaves, spring flowers, and many exhibits, is definitely exciting, especially since the Arboretum’s heavy involvement in research was something new to me.
In just these first few weeks, I have learned so much, including how to fly a drone!
This summer, I will be using the drone to collect data on how trees’ photosynthesis changes. Lane, my mentor's research assistant, is teaching me how to fly the drone. She said it would be similar to a video game controller, which seemed pretty hard to me, but it ended up being much easier than I expected!
The drone has a multispectral sensor attached to it, which takes photos of the visible and infrared light reflected by the tree. The amount of light reflected tells us how efficiently the tree is photosynthesizing, with healthy trees reflecting more than unhealthy trees.
Usually, this is used in agriculture to determine which areas are not doing as much photosynthesis, and therefore experiencing some kind of stress, such as drought or nutrition. However, we will be using this to made a 3D model of the tree and see how how the photosynthesis in different part of the tree changes in different conditions. I am excited to continue using the drone and learn more about trees!