When I was lucky enough to receive this internship I was forced to leave my two bubbles behind. One bubble was the small beach town on the west coast where I was born. The other bubble: a tropical Miami suburb where I have attended school for the last two years. To be honest, I was a little concerned since this will be the longest time I have lived away from a coastline. Despite my apprehensions, I have enjoyed every second of my experience.
As a double major in Marine Science and Biology I am constantly asked why I have chosen to spend my time at a Botanic Garden. Since I was little, I have always been interested in the natural world. When I was growing up this came in the form of the Pacific Ocean. More specifically the marine organisms that live beneath the ocean waves. As I grew, this turned into a love for anything biological and a hunger to explore more than what was readily available to me. As an aspiring scientist I have also always been fascinated with the interconnectedness of the natural world. And there my interest in the work happening at the Chicago Botanic Gardens was sparked.
I could not be more thankful for the opportunity to have so many new experience in only ten weeks. While I have had short snapshots of what it is like to work in a lab, this is my first major experience in a lab. Also, this has been my first opportunity to participate so extensively in the scientific process. I have been given an opportunity to take responsibility for a project. With help from my mentor, I have been in charge of ensuring the collection data and later the analysis and presentation of the data I have collected. My project fuses above and below ground. I am working on how the daylily (a non native, invasive to Wisconsin) has affected its soil microbe community. We predict the plant may be changing the conditions of the soil to better mediate its further invasion. I have really enjoyed the work in the Soil lab. It combines my known love for searching for things under a microscope and a new love for using chemistry in the lab to try to understand what exactly is happening in the soil.
In preparing to leave for Chicago, everyone had something to say about the town. One thing they have said to be true is that living downtown, I will have no shortage of things to do on weekends and they were right. It has been very fun to experience the energy of a city alive in summer. I have been able to enjoy everything from the Art Institute to Salsa dancing in the park. What no one could fully prepare me for is the amount I have been challenged and learned in only five weeks. I cannot wait to see what the next five weeks have in store.