Hello Floggers! My name is Claire Ellwanger and I'm excited to be a part of Team Echinacea this summer. Since graduating from Bowdoin College in 2012 I've spent the past two years gaining experience in the field of plant biology and conservation in Maine, California, and Puerto Rico. I'm already enjoying time in the mid-west getting to know prairie plants and how their reproductive success is impacted by habitat fragmentation. More about me and my research this summer can be found on the Echinacea Project website.
Recently in Team Member Profiles Category
I graduated from Jefferson High School in June, and I will be attending the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities next fall. This is my first real research experience but last summer I spent some time with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the University of St. Thomas doing some work with stable isotope ecology.
This summer I plan to study pollen longevity and determine a method for long term storage of the pollen. I am also very excited to work with other team members and help with their projects.
I am incredibly excited to be a member of Team Echinacea 2014, I think it is going to be an amazing experience and I am going to be working with some very awesome people! you can learn more about me at my page on the Echinacea Project website.
My name is Cam Shorb, and I'm a junior Biology major at Carleton College. Click here for more about me and my summer research interests.
I am a Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. I just started my year-long sabbatical and it is great to begin it as a member of Team Echinacea! Historically, I always have worked in grasslands, Pacific coastal, Montana and Minnesota sites, so one could say I love prairies.
My research questions focus on processes that generate and maintain diversity in plant populations. This summer Mike, Reina and I will examine three related questions: 1) Do plants from different genetic crosses experience different levels of herbivory? 2) How do morphological and physiological traits such as photosynthetic rate, WUE or leaf area vary as a function of different genetic crosses? 3) What is the feedback between herbivory, physiological traits and genetic identity, and how might this influence plant fitness?
I am originally from Colorado and lived 10 years in California, but I have lived in Minnesota for the past 15 years. I love being outdoors, especially in natural areas where I can hike, canoe, ski, bike, and camp. I also like to garden, read, cook or watch birds (my second favorite avian species with red plumage is the Rose-breasted Grosbeak). Travel to new places, from Kensington to India and beyond, has always given me new perspectives of the world.
Hello, everyone! If you couldn't tell from the title, I am Sarah Baker. I am a rising Junior at St. Catherine University and an REU intern this summer. I am a biology major with an interest in wildlife and conservation biology. During the academic year, as well as being a student, I work as a teaching assistant for ceramics courses at my school. I will also be working as "animal room technician" this upcoming semester, taking care of organisms used in labs and research for biology related courses.
Anyway, a bit of information about me: I grew up in Golden Valley, Minnesota and spent a lot of time in my childhood and teenage years outdoors. I often went hiking, canoeing, biking, and other types of adventuring outdoors with my family and learned much about nature from those experiences. My father, being a biologist, would often point out various plants and animals to me and identify them, teaching me what they were and interesting facts about them. These excursions fed my interest in wildlife and conservation. In the future, I plan to attend graduate school to study wildlife or conservation biology.
When I'm not doing cool science-y things, I enjoy making pottery, being out in nature, sailing, and hanging with friends. I am also the president of the ceramics club at my school where we host Empty Bowls community service projects to raise money for Minnesota Open Arms.
This summer, my independent project will focus on flowering phenology of various remnants. I will be adding to a data set from 2011 and 2012. My main interest with this project is to see if there are correlations between peak flowering times of the same remnants across multiple years. I look forward to all I will experience this summer!
If you are interesting in learning a bit more about me, check out my webpage on the Echinacea Project website!
Hello everyone! I am Kory Kolis and am from Eau Claire Wisconsin. I am a Junior at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter Minnesota (about an hour southwest of the twin cities). I am a biology and studio art double major. Last summer I was doing biochemistry research at Gustavus examining the four proteins that make up the kinetochore of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. I am very excited to be a part of Team Echinacea this summer, and for the opportunity to work outside! Woot!
This summer I plan on continuing the research done by Katie Koch and Andrew Kaul. I will be looking at the efficiency of pollinators on the Echinacea angustifolia. By doing my observations in Jennifer Ison's common garden I hope to be able to be able to trace the pollen back to the parent plant, allowing me to see if there are any relationships between distance from the two plants and pollinator.
In my free time I love making art. My favorite medium is ceramics, but above all love making sculptures. I recently put on a small show of my artwork in my school library titled "The Alchemist."
If you would like to see the link of me on the Echinacea Project home page click here.
Hello, flog readers! I am Marie Schaedel, a rising junior at Carleton College. I'm very happy to have gotten the opportunity to study Echinacea and learn about remnant prairie biology this summer. Although native to the congested Chicago region, I am very easily becoming accustomed to Kensington's sleepy serenity.
This summer, I plan to assess fitness and heritability in the hybrids that Stuart planted earlier this spring. For more specifics about my research question, see my Echinacea Project team member page.
Fun(ish) facts about me:
I have a rabbit named after an Egyptian pharaoh. I play the violin and piano, and am currently learning how to play the ukelele. In my free time, I like to run and lift weights. Winter is my favorite season because I love to cross country ski. This fall, I am traveling to Tanzania to study the biology of traditional agriculture on Mt. Kilimanjaro.
I am looking forward to the rest of the summer! Stay tuned for periodic project updates.
Hello there! My name is Reina Nielsen and I will be a sophomore at Gustavus Adolphus College this fall studying biology. I am excited to be doing research this summer with Dr. Kittleson and Mike. I love being outdoors and can be found fishing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, or downhill skiing. I am looking forward to an exciting summer!
I don't know if I've properly introduced myself on here.
My name is Katherine Muller and I'm a second year Master's student at Northwestern. I hail from the lovely, temperate San Francisco Bay Area. I'm not sure whether it was my thirst for adventure or my contrarian nature that led me to the Midwest--first to Oberlin College in Ohio, then to Northwestern and Minnesota. In any case, I now have the privilege of complaining about the weather.
This is my second year with the Echinacea Project. Last year I began research on aphids and ants in Echinacea angustifolia. I have two projects that I plan to continue this summer:
My first project is an experiment examining the effects of aphid infestation on Echinacea. Last year, I selected 100 non-flowering Echinacea, excluded aphids from 50 plants and added aphids to the other 50. I am repeating the experiment on the same plants. I performed my first experimental treatments on Saturday and Sunday and should soon be able to analyze my results from last year.
The other project I plan to continue this year is a survey of aphids and ants in a large experimental common garden. Last year I selected a 20x20m section of the experimental plot and led a biweekly of ants and aphids. I started this because I was interested in seeing how aphids spread over space and time. This year I will examine the same area to see how aphid infestation changes from year to year. Thanks to everyone's help, I collected my first dataset on June 15th. Considering the unusually warm winter, there should be some interesting developments this year.
My third project is to assess aphid and ant abundance among several Echinacea populations. My original plan was to survey aphids and ants on a representative sample of the entire population, including juvenile and non-flowering plants. As it so happens, Amy Dykstra and Daniel Rath conducted a similar survey in 2009 (you can read about it in the archives). For all their hard work, they found very few plants with aphids. Of the plants they surveyed--flowering plants had a much higher rate of aphid infestation than non-flowering plants--32% for flowering versus 5% for non-flowering plants. I decided to take a different approach and focus my sampling effort on flowering plants. Specifically, I will survey aphid and ant abundance on plants that flowered this year and last year. This will allow me to assess whether flowering in one year influences the likelihood of aphid infestation the following year.
That's about it for now. I'll be posting my progress on here as it happens. This summer I have the privilege of collaborating with Jill Gall, an REU student from College of the Atlantic. She's been hard at work preparing her project assessing ant diversity in prairie remnants, which I'll let her tell you about.
And because everyone else is doing it, here's a picture:
Hi! I'm Jill and I'm from Sewaren, New Jersey--exit 11 off the turnpike, in the heart of oil refineries and old factories. Sick of the polluted air and lack of wilderness, I fled home for Bar Harbor, Maine to attend College of the Atlantic (COA), a tiny liberal arts school tucked away on the coast of Mount Desert Island. There I study Human Ecology along with every other student-- a one-major curriculum allowing every student to independently design his or her own course of study. Entering my senior year this fall, I've spent my time at COA studying the relationships between soils, plants, and arthropods on contaminated and other ecologically "harsh" sites--sites distinguished by xeric, nutrient-poor, nutrient-imbalanced soils laced with high levels of heavy metals. I'll be completing my undergraduate thesis "Diversity and metal content of arthropods on adjacent serpentine and granite outcrops on Deer Isle, ME" this year, hopefully with a manuscript in the works.
Here with The Echinacea Project, I plan to study the ant communities on the prairie remnants and the prairie preserve to provide baseline data for further projects on the ants of the prairie. Like Shona, I'll post my project proposal on here once it's polished...
I'm looking forward to the rest of the summer packed with fulfilling fieldwork, great experiences, and wonderful people!
Hello! I'm Kelly. I'm a junior biology major at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. My hometown is St. Louis, Missouri where I live with my parents, an ancient dog and an obnoxious, paper-eating cat. My favorite animal is the beluga whale. I love to hike, bike, and swim. I hope to do some of those things this summer. I have also made it my goal to learn to cook without accidentally burning, breaking, botching or otherwise bungling anything.
I'm really excited to be a part of the Echinacea Project this summer! My first week in Kensington is just now coming to a close. I've had a wonderful time and I already feel like I've learned a ton about both Echinacea plants and the prairie ecosystem as a whole. For my independent project, I hope to study flowering phenology in several of the remnant populations. There's a great crew of people here this summer and I can't wait to meet everyone else who works on the project.
Hi everyone! As Andrew reminded us all a few minutes ago, we were supposed to introduce ourselves this weekend and the weekend is just about over, so here it is.
I'm Shona. I'm a rising Junior at Middlebury College in Vermont, where I'm majoring in biology and grew up on a small organic farm also in Vermont. I'm excited to join the Echinacea Project this year, and to get a taste of what biology research is really like. When I am not crouched in the field doing seedling searches or recruitment surveys, I am planing to focus my independent project on hybridization between Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea pallida. Someday soon I will post a link to my proposal here, once it is a little bit more polished...
This is the first time I've been to Minnesota, and I'm looking forward to exploring and enjoying the beautiful landscape and all of the wildlife (I had no idea that Pelicans lived out here!), and getting to know the rest of the group better. I've only been in K town for a week but I can already tell that I'm going to be happy here!
I'm sure I will add on to this more later, but here is my project proposal as it is right now:
echinacea project proposal.pdf
Hi!! My name is Lydia, and I hail from the Twin Cities metro area. I will be a Junior at Bethel University this fall. I play violin, piano, harmonica, and other random assortments of instruments. My favorite animals are wombats and penguins and I have a very strong liking for peanut butter. In my spare time, I like to read, hike, bike, puddle jump, and laugh with my friends and family. Oh, and I like making weird faces. And it's a fact that sound effects make everything better.
So far, I have been in Kensington for nearly 3 weeks and have been enjoying every minute of it. I am well on my way to developing the echinacea eye! In addition to seedling searches, we've learned to use the GPS to find focal plants, done data entry, and built a new frame for mapping seedlings. This summer I am planning to look at self-incompatibility and style persistence in Echinacea angustifolia. As of now, I am thinking of collecting data from one or two remnants.
Hey everyone, I'm Maria, making my first appearance on the flog. I'm from Malaysia, currently a sophomore/rising junior at Northwestern. Sorry for the late first post as I've been unable to get onto the flog until yesterday :)
I'm now sitting beside Amy Dykstra out on the porch of Hjellm house enjoying the scenery while freezing in the cold. We have not been able to go out to do field work since Tuesday afternoon(?) due to wet weather, but we're going to go out and plant the remaining <20 seedlings at Staffanson after lunch and perhaps seedling searches. Hope that the ground dries up!
Anyway, here's the link to the googledoc of my summer project proposal. I'm constantly updating it/working on it so it seems most practical to share it as a googledoc. Any input will be highly appreciated :D Hope that everyone will be able to assess the link. Let me know if the link is not working! Thanks!
*Update June 24: The googledoc link is updated. Everyone should be able to assess it now :)
I've finally made it to the flog. So excited. ^_^
For all our loyal followers, my name is Kate and I'll be starting the Masters program at Northwestern in the fall. Thus, part of my energy this summer will be devoted to thinking/researching/exploring possible masters projects. Stuart, Caroline, and Megan have already been very helpful in setting me on the right track; they all have some great ideas and thoughts on what I could focus on. I'm feeling a bit spoiled for choice, actually. Guess I have a lot of reading to do!
I will also be working with the Pollinator Sub-team of the Echinacea Team. Allegra, Amanda, Mimi and I will all be tackling various aspects of the great pollen issues surrounding Echinacea. The questions I will be attempting to shed light on include:
1) What pollen ends up on flowering Echinacea? In what quantities?
2) Is a plants floral neighborhood reflected by the pollen that ends up on the flower?
3) How does isolation impact the amount of pollen on Echinacea plants? How does the quantity/quality issue play out on isolated Echinacea vs. Bunched plants?
4) Does flowering early or late in the season have any impact on the amount of pollen a Echinacea receives?
I'll be posting a proposal type document with my methods soon, so watch for that.
Ta for now,
Greetings from the green prairie! After a few days in the field, I feel I have a good handle on the projects done in the past and the current research. My name is Greg Diersen and this is my first year with Team Echinacea. I teach Biology (happy pollinator week) at Great Plains Lutheran High School in Watertown, South Dakota. That location in NE South Dakota is about a 2-hr drive from the Kensington/Hoffman area. They both have a "prairie pothole" landscape and have many of the same flora/fauna. My initial projects for this summer are to become "prairie literate" - able to identify the majority of plants and many insects in addition to the larger organisms with which I am already familiar. As I learn the "tallgrass" plants and insects - I will be comparing and contrasting the "mixed" prairie types of Eastern South Dakota.
I should introduce myself to the new Team - I'm Ruth Shaw. I've collaborated with Stuart and the Team on this project since 2000. I'm a professor at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. Broadly speaking, my research addresses questions about ongoing evolution in plant populations, and I have found this project on the evolutionary consequences of fragmentation of populations of Echinacea endlessly stimulating!
I'm just back from the joint meeting of the Society for the Study of Evolution, The American Society of Naturalists, and the Society of Systematic Biology, where I gave a brief talk about some of our results based on 7-years of data on "Inb1" an experiment to compare the effects of inbreeding and of crossing between remnants. This experiment has been growing in the common garden since 2000, and we have now documented that the degree of inbreeding depression is exceptional, far exceeding that found in other studies. Intriguingly, we have also found that both inbreds and progeny of between remnant crosses harbor more of the specialist aphid than plants derived by random mating within remnants.
A special highlight of the meeting is that our paper about estimating fitness, with examples (available via the main echinacea website), received the President's Award, chosen by the current President of ASN as outstanding paper of 2008 in the journal, The American Naturalist. Quite an honor!
I was out in Douglas County in late May for the early monitoring of seedling recruitment in the remnants, and I'm glad to hear that process is moving forward well! I'm looking forward to getting back out there and working with you all soon!
Hello! My name is Daniel Rath, a rising senior Biology major from Carleton College, Minnesota. I'll be working with Stuart and the other incredible members of the Echinacea project all summer to find out the answers to some of the most interesting, fascinating and incredible questions about the prairie ever conceived.
Well, I might be exaggerating, but only a little.
I am 19 years old, born and raised in Dangriga, Belize, C.A., and ever since I worked in the Carleton Arboretum restoring prairie, I have had an intense fascination with the Midwest prairie ecosystem. I came to Kensington the day after Carleton's graduation ceremonies, and so far I have been blown away by the beautiful wide open expanses, particularly Staffenson Prairie. I have been fascinated by the small prairie remnants that remain in scattered areas throughout the landscape, and am working on learning the names of some of the key species (leadplant, tall bluestem and short bluestem, brome, veiny pea, and many others).
The question that has most caught my interest is the interaction between aphids and ants, particularly as it has been recorded in the Common Garden. I would love to know more about this potential new species, such as: Are the Echinacea-specific? Do their depredations vary among inbred vs outbred vs plants within the same remnant? Are they able to persist without the ants? What exactly is the nature of the ant-aphid interaction? How abundant are they in the wild? Tons of questions, so hard to choose! It gets even more complicated as you consider the little structures built for the aphids by the ants, as some entomologists believe that the ants use spittlebug spittle to construct them! However, I think I will narrow it down to a question that lets me spend the largest amount of time outside in the prairie remnants and the common garden.
I am also looking forward to gaining more field skills, such as using a GPS, looking at satellite maps, and learning about sampling mechanisms such as line transects and random searches.
Kensington is a marvellous little town, and I really like the feel of it. While I have not recovered from my sleep debt incurred at Carleton, I intend to explore the surrounding landscape as soon as possible. However, I would like future Team Echinacea members to know that the K-Town bar offers 2$ burgers on Thursdays. Incredible deal!
Hello everyone! My name is Mimi Jenkins and I'm an REU student with Chicago Botanic Gardens. I am from Pittsburgh, PA where I am a senior (one more semester!) at the University of Pittsburgh double majoring in Environmental studies and French lang/lit and a certificate in Global studies. This is my first real experience spending more than one day in the Midwest and I love it so far. The wetlands and prairies out here are gorgeous and I feel very lucky to be experiencing a new and exciting place and working with such an interesting group of people on such a worthwhile and fascinating project. I have never been on such a flat land or in such a small town, but the flat topography makes for nice biking (hoping I can get my hands on a bike soon!) and the small town is a nice break from the city for the summer. I arrived in Chicago two weeks ago and after an introductory week for the REU program doing lab work on soil samples and such (not my cup o' tea), I met Stuart, took pictures with the help of Jake Friedman of some of the Echinacea pollinators and visitors that are pinned and in boxes at CBG, and did a little research on the nesting habits of bees.
Here is the protocol we came up with for the picture-taking:Protocol for Taking Pictures of Insect Specimens.docx
Here is some of the info I found on nesting of bees commonly found on Echinacea:
Echinacea Pollinators nesting.docx
I am really excited about this field season and I wish I could stay longer! I am really interested in improving my plant and bee identification skills on the prairie, as well as my knowledge of statistics in analyzing data and applied ecology in general. I also hope that this experience will help me to hone in on what I want to focus on for graduate schools in a year or two. I am currently trying to think about what exactly I would like to focus on because everything sounds so cool but I am limited to less than 6 weeks of research so it must be a pretty precise question, such as: does one family or species of bee act as a more effective pollinator for Echinacea than others using the style persistence method, or what co-flowering species are the pollinators pollinating that also land on Echinacea by observing pollinators on other plants or looking at foreign pollen on Echinacea heads. I would like to work in the common garden and in remnant populations to get a good sense of how these questions might differ depending on the community diversity of the remnant and the health of the Echinacea population.
I went out wandering yesterday and I think some of the locals thought I was a crazy person for walking on the side of the road but until I can bike, I will explore by foot. I turned onto the first dirt road on the right off of Kensington Ave and found this pretty hillside prairie remnant at the end of the road. I wanted to go further, but the electric fence kept me from continuing. I saw a patch of something yellow flowering off in the distance. Along the path of the dirt road between two corn fields I saw what I think was brome grass, prairie rose, common milkweed, alfalfa and clover, and some others like thistles that I couldn't identify. I saw a big white bird that Stuart told me today was an American egret. I also saw some more of those cool turquoise dragonflies that are in the common garden. I regret not bringing my camera with me because the view at the end of the dirt road was so pretty--there were relatively few trees and you could gently rolling green hills for miles.
Hi, my name is Ben Iberle and I'm going to be a junior Biology and Music major at Grinnell College in Grinnell, IA. I was born in Seattle, lived in the Willamette Valley of Oregon for nine years, then finished off the job in Vancouver, WA, right across the mighty Columbia from Portland. I love the Northwest, I love backpacking and hiking through it. I love the prairie, too, and I wish there were better places to backpack through big bluestem. I play ultimate frisbee, soccer, saxophone, and Scrabble. I think Kraken is my favorite word.
Hi, I'm Julie Stutzbach from Pitman, NJ- a small town near Philadelphia in the southern part of the state. Presently, I am a Bio major at Beloit College where I run cross-country. About a month ago, I returned from Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands where I studied Ecology, Evolution, Botany, Conservation, and assisted Luis Vinueza with a research project on algal distributions. Last summer, I worked at Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook, NJ on a Botany Invasive Species team trying to control some invasive plants in the park such as Mullein, Autumn Olive, and Tree of Heaven. I especially enjoyed the cut and stump method using chainsaws. You can see me sawing down a Tree of Heaven on YouTube: http://youtube.com/watch?v=cAzu5XQLF30. I am especially interested in Ecology, Botany, and Conservation science making the Echinacea team a solid match for me. After graduating, I want to see as much of the world as I can and then continue on to graduate school.
I was born and raised in western Nebraska, graduated with a bachelor's degree in biology from Nebraska Wesleyan University, spent a year working at the University of Washington herbarium, and will be attending the plant biology and conservation program at Northwestern in the fall. I grew up on the prairie, so it's close to my heart, but I love everything plant-related, including eating them. I've been a vegan for seven years, but when I'm not reading the labels on food packaging, I like to read, sew, and BAKE.
I'm currently attending the University of Vermont (UVM) in Burlington, VT and will be a Junior next year. I am majoring in Environmental Science with a concentration in Water Resources. Burlington is a great little city. It is progressive and there is so much going on for such a little place...well, it is the biggest town in VT. There are so many great restaurants and shops and locally grown/made is a huge thing there!
I am from "Clover Valley" Minnesota. You won't be able to find that on a map...but it is somewhere in between Duluth and Two Harbors a bit inland from the lake. Lake Superior is awesome and if you haven't been to the North Shore and the Boundary Waters you definitely should at some point in your life.
Hello Echinacea fans!
I'm Christine... and I'm in the Plant Biology and Conservation master's program at Northwestern University.
Here are some things I saw at the grocery store yesterday:
1. 40 jerky sticks vacuum-sealed together
2. A jerky gun (Fast on the draw, according to to the package)
I feel so un-American, not owning any of this.
As the crew posts profiles of themselves, certain aspects of people's personalities are inevitably left out. Our complex identities are unable to be fully described in a few short paragraphs. In an attempt to fill some of these holes, I present Julie Nicol.
Who would have known there are such wonderful animal impersonation talents in Team Echinacea. It appears that Jameson can do a killer cat impression too; we'll work on getting it on camera.
Rachel is a 3rd year master's student at the University of Minnesota in Ruth Shaw's lab. Her research is focused on the rapid evolution of invasive plant species in prairie fragments. She received her bachelors degree at the Central Washington University, and did post-bac work in the Australian rainforest with the School for Field Studies. She is a native of Washington state.
On the side Rachel enjoys breakdancing, hip-hop dancing, and gripping/gaffing on movie/television sets.
Hello everyone, this is Andy McCall reporting from the farmhouse in Douglas Co. Minnesota.
I'm currently an assistant professor of biology at Denison University, a small liberal arts college (a SLAC!) in Granville, Ohio. I, like many people on the project, graduated from Carleton College , where I first learned to appreciate and love the prairie landscape under the tutelage of Mark Mckone .
Needless to say, I love teaching and learning and have wanted to be a professor since my time at Carleton. After Carleton, I studied alpine flies in New Zealand while earning my Master's degree at the University of Canterbury, leafcutter ants in Costa Rica, and wild radishes in California.
I received my doctorate in population biology from UC-Davis in 2006 with Rick Karban and spent some time in Ruth Shaw's lab at the University of Minnesota last summer, thinking about inbreeding, flowers, and insects -- a few of my favorite things! I met Ruth when she came to UC-Davis for a week as a workshop speaker in the Center for Population Biology and we immediately hit it off because we both have done work on the lovely annual plant, Nemophila menziesii . She introduced me to Stuart and the Echinacea project, and the rest is history!
Ruth, Stuart, and I were lucky enough to receive funding through the National Science Foundation to support our work on pollination and seed predation this summer, and I have received generous funds from Denison and the Battelle Foundation to support the students I brought from Denison this year: Josh Drizin, Jameson Pfeil, and Colin Venner. I'm psyched to be part of the project as I am certain that we are learning brand-new things about both Echinacea biology and prairie restoration.
I'm Josh Drizin, a rising senior at Denison University. I'm majoring in Biology (minor in Chemistry). I'm interested in plants, and possibly more specifically in population ecology. I joined Team Echinacea because I wanted the experience in field work and the project sounded interesting. My tick count to date is 10. I rather enjoy photography and quite like listening to music (I need to get back into playing guitar, though).
Let me reintroduce myself. In rare forgetful moment, I left my self logged into the team computer at the farm house, and a prankster who shall not be named shared with the readers of this blog a couple of facts about my life. All of these facts, with the possible exception of the title of the entry are true. I'm a biology major at Carleton, and will be spending the fall semester studying rain forest ecology in Costa Rica. I like being outside in any and all capacities, love ornithology, and enjoy making and consuming delicious food.
I'm Jameson Pfeil, the hairiest member of team Echinacea. I'm a rising senior at Denison University in Granville, OH. At School I live at an intentional community called the Homestead. I'm majoring in Biology at Denison and I'm trying to specialize within Biology, but I haven't settled on anything quite yet. I joined team Echinacea to get experience in the field and to learn a new discipline of biology. I'm originally from southeastern Pennsylvania, most recently Lancaster, PA, just west of the city.(and no I'm not Amish).
I am Colin Venner, Biology major from Denison University. Orignially of Saline, Michigan (just outside of Ann Arbor), I am in the class of 2009 and I am a Taurus (though I don't fit the profile for one). I enjoy several different styles of music and have been known to "cut a mean rug". When I'm not counting anthers of flowering Echinacea heads you can find me enjoying life and smiling frequently.
Hi i'm Amy Alstad. I'm 5' 113/4". The saddest part of life is that i'm not 6' tall. I'm from MN and i'm going to be a junior at Carleton college
My name is Julie Nicol. I graduated from Carleton College (Northfield, MN) with a degree in biology in 2007. I am from Seattle, WA and hope to move back at some point. In the meantime I'm here working on the Echinacea project. I really enjoy the area; it's quite beautiful. In the fall I'll be heading to Chicago to work for Stuart at the Chicago Botanic Garden until next spring. Eventually I will (most likely) go to grad school, but I intend to spend the next few years figuring out exactly what I want to study.
On a more personal note, I enjoy being outside (hiking, kayaking, diving, windsurfing, etc.), reading (one of my favorite books is The Master and Margarita), and music (I have wide-ranging tastes from joy division to dar williams). I am also interested in and concerned with social justice and environmental issues.
So this is my very first blog entry so it will be lacking all the neat links to pictures et al in that are in other people's entries but it will talk about Echinacea.
Since this is my first blog I should probably spend a little time introducing myself. My name is Jennifer I am a in an inter-disciplinary PhD program, called LEAP, at the University of Illinois at Chicago in conjunction with the Chicago Botanic Garden. LEAP stands for Landscape Ecological and Anthropogenic Processes, it is an NSF funded IGERT program aimed at increasing biodiversity in human altered landscapes. For a much better description of LEAP see http://www.uic.edu/depts/bios/leap/. As for the Echinacea Project I have been involved with the project first as an intern back in 2003-2004 then as a graduate student (since summer 2005). My research mainly focuses on understanding how flowering phenology (when a plant flowers) shapes seed set, pollen movement, and ultimately genetic structure in a population. For more see my website at http://www2.uic.edu/~ison/.
To understand how flowering phenology shapes population structure we use a variety of methods. First we collect phenology data in the common garden. The current protocol has us counting anthers shedding pollen every other day. We then collect the seed heads in the fall and individually weigh a subset of the seeds to get an estimate of seed set. Why individually weigh seeds? Well it is the only non-destructive method of determining if an achene (the technical term for fruits in the Asteraceae) actually has a viable embryo. We know that 97% or seeds weighing greater than 2 mg will germinate and 91% of less weighing less than 2 mg will not germinate. As of this spring we have individually weighed (with the help of an amazing volunteer named Art) weighed 30,211 seeds. This June Art has embarked on weighing another 3,000 seeds from the 2006 flowering plants. So far we know that late flowering plants set much less seed than early or peak flowering plants. To get at the hereditability of flowering phenology we planted a second common garden (yes there is another common garden) on a site called Hegg Lake owned by the DNR. The site was planted with just about 4,000 seedlings in May 2006 and the plants will hopefully flower before I finish my PhD.
Finally, to understand how flowering phenology influences pollen movement we are using molecular genetic techniques, specifically microsatellites markers. Microsatellites are a molecular genetic marker that consist of repeating non-coding regions in the genome (eg GATGATGATGAT). Since they are repeating non-coding regions they mutate relatively rapidly so there are different number of repeats for the same microsatellite in a population--alleles. With these microsatellites we will be able to, eventually, take a seed from a known maternal plant and find out who the dad is. I developed microsatellites specifically for Echinacea last fall at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. I now need to determine of these microsatellites I found do they actually have enough alleles to conduct paternity analysis. While everyone else has been up in Minnesota flying kites I have been spending time in the genetics lab trying to get the microsatellites to work. After spending too long figuring out the optimal number of cycles and temperature in the PCR, plus how much, if any, Mg to add I finally have been having success with about 5 microsatellites.
Today I ran four out of the five primers on 16 plants (8 from the preserve and 8 from Steven's approach) and had multiple alleles!!! I had between 4 to 6 alleles just in these 16 plants. It was very exciting after spending so long playing with PCR conditions. It was very rewarding to run samples that actually worked and even better that all the microsatellites were at least moderately variable. My goal is to get 8 primers with all with around 6 alleles, which should be enough to do figure out who the dad is. For my next blog entry I'll see if I can figure out how to add pictures and I'll insert some images of my microsatellite alleles.
I think that is more than enough for my first entry. I will hopefully have more exciting news regarding the microsatellites before I come up to Minnesota (which is on July 15th).
Notes to self:
Equipment for MN
-2 meter sticks
-data logger (?)--talk to JF
Finish up at CBG
-put seeds into freezer--talk to AS?
-data entry for Theresa
-get tissue samples into fresh silica gel
-molecular work for John and Eric