2010 NSF REU

The Impact of Soil Amendments on Soil Nutrients, Reinvasion, and Native Plant Community

Advisors: Dr. Liam Heneghan and Lauren Umek, M.S. (both DePaul University)
NSF REU with the Chicago Botanic Garden and Northwestern University
Summer 2010
I led an investigation into the effect of soil carbon addition in the form of mulch as a novel restoration practice to control Rhamnus cathartica, common buckthorn. Aspects I investigated included: soil nutrient dynamics, R. cathartica reinvasion, and the surrounding native plant community. I was in charge of analyzing soil samples for inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as conducting thorough vegetative surveys. At the completion of the project, I presented a poster and talk at the program’s symposium.

In summary:
This REU was invaluable in my decision to pursue a degree in environmental science. I had started my undergraduate thinking of going into Chemistry, and then quickly realized that o-chem and all of its associates were not my cup of tea. Then came my Ecology class at St. Olaf, and a professor who not only shared her dedication and time, but also her insight. I thoroughly enjoyed coming to class and delving in to ecological theories and concepts such as community assemblages, succession, and nutrient cycling. A flurry of work went in to applying for a REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) position, and I was lucky enough to get an interview for the REU established by the Chicago Botanic Garden and Northwestern University. An exciting summer quickly flew by, and was filled with copious amounts of articles, long days in the field, and really amazing people.