A Qualified Success

Earlier this month, I passed my qualifying exam to become a PhD candidate (and not get kicked out of the program, yay!). There was a lot of reading involved, but in the end it was not so bad. It gave me just the incentive I needed to get through thousands of pages of background and come out a little more prepared for my research.

The Influence of Landscape Context on Native Plant Species in Stormwater Detention Basins

One of the ways I am using the data from my fieldwork is to study the way the surrounding landscape influences the plant species found at a site. I found the percent native species at a site is negatively affected by commercial and services land use and transportation and utility areas in the surrounding area but positively affected by wooded wetlands and recreation land nearby. This can help land managers fine tune restoration decisions for different kinds of sites.

November in the Lab: Extractable nutrients, or what color is it?

Phosphorus and nitrogen are essential for plants, but can become pollutants in high concentrations, so I am measuring levels in the soil in my study sites. In this series of analyses, I am using the color of chemical reactions to measure the concentration of nitrogen and phosphorus in soil. In the analysis, I compare the color of my samples to the color of samples of known concentration using a spectrometer. This analysis shows a convoluted and ingenious way that someone came up with to measure these very low concentrations of elements.

Plate Botany

Recently I was at the grocery store, and this know-it-all sign reminded me of a blog post I wrote for the Farm Cooking School back in 2014. People often want to tell us that a tomato, a cucumber, or some other vegetable “is actually a fruit.” To say this is to confusedly blur the lines between culture and botany.