When you become lab buddies with someone, it’s like making an unbreakable vow. Your lab buddy becomes your other half, your partner in crime, and your lifeline (especially in chemistry labs). They’re people you can be your complete, nerdy self around. I am fortunate to be living with three of my lab buddies this summer in addition to being able to spend ample time with other lab buddies.
Living with my lab buddies has really shaped my summer as a LEEP pioneer thus far. Though we all work for the same research lab, we’re all working on slightly different projects. This means that once were done working in the lab or in the field for the day, we talk about our projects over a steaming pot of tea in our common room. We ask each other questions about the other’s methods, anticipated results, what the results will imply, and how we’ll build upon our work in future studies. By questioning each other, we force one another to think harder, better understand our own research, and, most importantly, bring science to life.
Being a part of a group of people with similar academic interests and goals has made my research experience special and inspired me to grow as a scientist. Biology projects aside, this experience has taught me how valuable having classmates by your side who question your ideas, push you to think more, and to inspire you to work harder can be. I am extremely thankful for all that I’ve gained from my friendships with my lab buddies thus far and am ecstatic for what’s ahead!
Until next time!
Nearly two weeks later and we (by we I mean those in the Foster-Baker laboratory interested in stream ecology) finished our first round of macroinvertebrate sampling. Macroinvertebrate abundance and diversity are reliable indicators of stream health. The first half of our sampling was focused on whether streams are healthiest in meadow streams, hemlock forest streams, or deciduous forest streams in the Brooks Woodland Preserve. The second half of our sampling entailed assessing stream health in respect to land use for the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust. All of the streams we surveyed and sampled had profound beauty and beautiful spots for lunch breaks!
Though our stream team was blessed with such beautiful work sites, this round of sampling was far from fun and games. Things rarely went as planned. We learned to not forget essential items (such as our notes, sampling nets, GPS, or my favorite, our waders on the Blackstone green) by forgetting them and having to learn from our mistakes. Things always took longer than planned, whether it was readying our materials in the lab each morning, the drive to the streams (we got lost plenty of times), ‘bush-wacking’ to find our sampling sites, or the actual sampling. We shivered sampling the cold downpours of tropical storm Andrea thinking we were clever to finish our sampling before what we thought would be a stormy weekend (which would make the stream flow too high and fast to safely sample) that ended up being sunny. Though our first round of sampling was more strenuous, tedious, and drawn out than any of us had wished, the delayed gratification made everything worth while! Even more importantly, we’re learning how to work together as a team, which will allow subsequent samplings to flow more smoothly!
First, to introduce myself, I’m Hannah Reich. I’m a rising junior majoring in Environmental Science on the Environmental and Conservation Biology track. I hope to complete Clark’s 5th year program in Biology. Somehow, as a junior in high school, I knew I wanted to do field work in environmental science and biology as an undergraduate with masters and doctoral degrees in the distant future. Naturally, I was immediately drawn to Clark and its emphasis on undergraduate research within the first few moments of my tour. By the end of my first visit, I felt a warm and fuzzy sense of belonging at Clark and it has never left me.
This summer, I’ll be working with three other Clarkies (a fellow LEEP pioneer, a global scholar, and a traina scholar) on stream research overseen by my faculty advisor, Dr. John Baker. One portion of our research will be continuing the work of two 2012 LEEP pioneers in assessing stream health in the Otter River System through monitoring and quantifying macroinvertebrate diversity. Another portion of our project will be aiding the Trustees of Reservations (TTOR), Massachusetts’s largest private conservation NGO, in restoring the lower Housatonic River onto its original flood plain. We’ll be setting up long-term monitoring sites and procedures that can hopefully be passed down to future Clarkies.
The project I’m most interested in is working with the freshwater pearl mussel, Margaritifera margaritifera. The freshwater pearl mussel is considered to be globally endangered. However, pristine freshwater pearl mussel populations thrive in the East Branch Swift River (Petersham, MA) and potentially other north-central Massachusetts streams. This summer, I plan to survey local streams for freshwater pearl mussels and begin to quantify abundance, age/ size structure, distribution, and genetic diversity. I am especially interested in genetic diversity because a lack of genetic diversity can lead to major conservation problems.
I’ve got my work cut out for me this summer! Until next time!