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Longings for Bass, Birches, and Shared Spaces

Longings for Bass, Birches, and Shared Spaces

Hello, I’m Andrew! I am a rising junior at Iowa State University studying Horticulture and Global Resource Systems. At the moment I work remotely in the Forest Ecology Lab of Dr. Christy Rollinson as an undergraduate research intern living in Ames, Iowa. I work closely with Christy and Lucien Fitzpatrick on a project which aims to establish a means of predicting the climate sensitivity of individual Oak species within remotely sensed datasets of forests. I wish to preface this post by mentioning my immense gratitude towards The Morton Arboretum for not cancelling the REU program this summer. It was a long and challenging transition to our current format, but I have felt supported through its entirety. At peace with the circumstances, I want my first post to you all to be a brief reflection of what originally drew me to the program, as well as how I have adjusted in light of the changes.


Kentucky Coffeetree in front of ISU Student Innovations CenterCaption: A young Kentucky Coffeetree, Iowa State University


As an avid extrovert, I struggle with the recent lack of personal interaction. This was especially apparent when I first learned that my REU experience was in jeopardy. Deeply concerned, only then did I understand just how excited I was. My plans had fallen into place, and I was feeling entitled to reap the benefits. I was eager for the invaluable memories and relationships that come with living amongst fellow undergraduates in a new place. As well, I was antsy to navigate the ups and downs of a research project in an environment filled with wisdom, curiosity, and trees; even more titillating was the prospect of seeing that facility’s ability to relate those elements. In hindsight I was rightfully concerned, but unjustly disappointed. It took an attitude adjustment to reaffirm confidence in myself, the program, and in life to give graciously when approached with composure and optimism.


Although, I surely could not surrender all of my expectations for this summer! Instead of photographing rare specimens amongst the collections, I explore central campus with an eye for subtle beauty. Rather than rubbing elbows with ecologists and interns, I virtually bombard them with my inquiries via Zoom. Last, and not least, I have replaced evenings fishing Lake Marmo for opportunistic angling with my brother.


In closing, I believe in the value of adversity and encourage others to do the same. I also believe there will not come a time at which I am not challenged by adversity. Therefore, I continue to take advantage of such occasions knowing I will be better for having faced them.


Andrew holding a Largemouth Bass
Jeez you should have seen the one that got off right before this guy!



Thank you for reading, and I look forward to writing you all again.