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A Photo Finish

Wednesday, August 16, 2017
A Photo Finish
Presenting at the Morton Arboretum Undergraduate Research Fellows Symposium.

Hello everyone! Welcome to my fifth and final blog post!

 

My summer at the Arboretum has been a long and rewarding journey. I have learned so much about tree science and the process of research, both topics that I was not familiar with when I started this fellowship.

 

I am incredibly grateful to The Morton Arboretum Center for Tree Science and Morton Salt, Inc. for their support and funding.

 

Special thanks to my mentors: Dr. Chuck Cannon, Lane Scher, Stephanie Adams, and Chai-Shian Kua; as well as to Christine Carrier and Dr. Silvia Alvarez-Clare; Dr. Meghan Midgley, Michelle Catania, and the Soil Science lab; Marlene Hahn, Emma Spence, and the Herbarium lab; and my fellow URFs for their advice and assistance with my project.

 

Thank you to everyone who has followed this blog! It’s been a privilege to share my experience with you.

 

Enjoy these pictures that were taken throughout my time here.

 

A sculpture of an origami butterfly, silhouetted against green trees and a blue sky.
One of my favorite Origami in the Garden sculptures, which I discovered only two weeks ago when the other interns visited the Arboretum.
Alyssa Gao

 

A white drone silhouetted against green grass.
My project was originally focused on using drone photogrammetry to determine the accuracy of allometric equations.
Alyssa Gao

 

A tree with pink tape wrapped around one of its branches.
The tree I was examining for my original project, which was to be the center of a tree dissection.
Alyssa Gao
 
A hand holding a DBH tape, measuring a tree trunk.
Here I am measuring the diameter at breast height for one of my trees.
Alyssa Gao
 
A path cutting through a dense patch of trees, with a sign reading East Woods.
My favorite part of collecting samples is the drive through the East Woods.
Alyssa Gao
 
Four different trees in one picture.
My 11 trees were in four different locations - top left was on the West Side and the other three were on the East Side.
Alyssa Gao
 
Three piles of mini bags, held together by orange ties, contained in a single ziploc bag labelled Alyssa Gao - Mongolian Oak DNA.
The bag containing the four twig cookies I sampled from each tree.
Alyssa Gao
 
Multi-colored tubes arranged in rows.
ou use several different tubes when extracting DNA.
Alyssa Gao
 
A tube sitting on a black platform, vibrating.
During extraction, you vortex the tubes by pressing down on this black platform, which causes the tube to vibrate.
Alyssa Gao
 
The tip of a micropipette, filled with a small volume of liquid.
You often have to pipette a wide range of small volumes, ranging from 4 microliters to 500 microliters.
Alyssa Gao
 
A tray lined with neat rows of capped vials, with numbers written on the caps.
The 48 leaf samples that were ground and tinned to analyze foliar Nitrogen levels.
Alyssa Gao
 
A microbalance with a 96 well plate in front of it.
The microbalance used to weigh out 5 mg of leaf sample to tin, with the well plate containing the tinned samples in front of it.
Alyssa Gao
 
People eating lunch at the Gingko cafe in the Arboretum.
URFs eating lunch with the Argonne National Laboratory Interns at the Gingko Cafe.
Alyssa Gao
 
A nametag with my name, the date, and Argonne National Laboratory emblazoned on it.
We got to visit the interns at the Argonne National Laboratory and hear about the research that goes on there.
Alyssa Gao
 
A silver and white sign reading Advanced Photon Source.
When we visited Argonne, we got to take a tour of the Advanced Photon Source facility, which was an amazing experience.
Alyssa Gao
 
A poster with a circle diagram in front of a window.
A diagram of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne, right in front of the APS itself.
Alyssa Gao
 
Cases with insects on display.
Several of the Field Museum REUs conduct research on insects, and we were able to see a few of the collections that are not on display for the public.
Alyssa Gao
 
Trays with multi-colored birds on display.
We were also able to visit the bird collection, where we saw trays of birds that had been tagged and identified.
Alyssa Gao
 
A mini bag containing a twig and a vial containing ground leaf material.
When the Field Museum and Chicago Botanic Garden REUs visited the Arboretum, we each gave 5 minute presentations on our research. I used a twig sample and a ground leaf sample as my props.
Alyssa Gao
 
A man in a crane, suspended beside a tree.
The tree crew beginning the process of cutting down a tree.
Alyssa Gao
 
A tree devoid of branches, with branches strewn around its base.
The tree, halfway through being cut down, with cut branches strewn around it.
Alyssa Gao
 
A man holding a chainsaw beside a tree stump.
The tree crew standing around the stump of the tree.
Alyssa Gao
 
Halves of tree branches laid out to reveal the inside of the tree.
Several of the branches had been cut open to reveal the inside of the tree.
Alyssa Gao
About the Author
Hi everyone! My name is Alyssa Gao, and I am one of the Undergraduate Research Fellows at the Morton Arboretum’s Center for Tree Science working with Dr. Chuck Cannon. I am a rising sophomore at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. This summer, I am researching the effects of bacterial leaf scorch on the leaves of Mongolian Oak specimens in the Morton Arboretum collections. Through this project, I hope to provide insight into the physiological responses of trees to disease. I am excited to contribute to the on-going research at The Morton Arboretum!