My REU internship at the Chicago Botanic Garden so far has been an incredible learning experience. What I am loving most about my time here is the amount of exposure I’ve had to various aspects of research under plant science. I spent the beginning of this internship in the Soil Laboratory learning how to analyze soil samples by measuring microbial activity, nutrient levels, texture, and staining roots to look for mycorrhizae. We learned how to use lab tools such as hydrometers and spectrophotometers.
My mentor. Rob Hevey, and I have also gone to nearby prairies and aided in the monitoring of a population of sundrops to see how they expand over time. He is also teaching me how to use a Canon DSLR camera to take photographs of our plants!
We are currently running germination experiments for a climate change study on Lespedeza capitata and Lespedeza virginica at different temperatures and in various soil conditions. Once the seeds have germinated we plant them in small pots to measure how these factors may also impact their growth. In addition, we have a College First Student who is studying the effects of various light wavelengths on the germination of these species.