Lab Girl

     It is undeniably a real phenomenon, yet many still claim it as false. Global Climate Change has been a topic of inevitable discussion as it has grown in popularity among a wide range of subjects such as politics, although often not taken seriously, entomology, and most notably in my case, botanical sciences. Fortunately for me, I was awarded the stunning opportunity to collaborate with my delightful advisor, Jessa Finch in further exploring a GCC topic in relation to “Defining germination tolerance ranges for three Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.). Although my time here as an undergraduate research intern approaches its halfway mark, the project continues to evolve into something fascinating, and pleasantly unexpected.

     While my real home may only be located a mere 20 minutes away from the gardens, I can’t help but to feel that I’ve found a new home: The Seed Lab. Sure it sounds overtly nerdy, but that more than I could ever ask for. In this quaint and incubator cluttered room, I’ve become comforted by the parties of seeds within school-bus yellow envelopes, and the littered, yet organized petri-dishes. As for my own project, I’ve gotten into the habit of calling the  seemingly mini-sized 621 petri-dishes on the climate gradient table “my babies”. More notably, the climate gradient table was one of the primary tools which enticed me to apply for this position in the first place. On the entire table lie approximately 4,500 milkweed seeds derived from the milkweed species collected from St.Louis, Minneapolis, and Chicago. From the northern to the southern end, the population of seeds are placed along a temperature gradient spanning from 20° to 15°, and are checked every 48 hours for any sign of germination. It can be rather time intensive at times, but my interest has grown every day.

     It may be too early to say, but like a young couple in love, I think this is going to last. The idea of being a researcher was initially more of an interest, yet it has now evolved into a confidence. The Plant and Science laboratories hold a plethora of professional scientists which have encouraged me to commit to becoming a researcher both through educational seminars, and their evident drive to explore what possible evidence come to light from their scientific question. Even more so, the undeniable bond which has formed between the REU students has created a unique opportunity, as we never fail to ask each other about our studies. All in all, this is an experience which has influenced my future for the better.