Congratulations to Chris, seen here with Leland, who successfully defended her dissertation on May 7th. Yay! We wish her well in her postdoc at Columbia University, with field work in Puerto Rico! We also are saying good bye to Julian, who was an amazing volunteer. Last, we have new papers coming out in Ecology and New Phytologist… Spoiler alert: it’s all about phosphorus!
Hats off to Julian who is leading a detailed study of how microclimatic conditions change over succession! Since June, we have been measuring soil moisture, soil temperature, throughfall, and leaf area index in plots that include regenerating pastures, shrubby sites, secondary forests, and tree plantations. We have collected these data in both Costa Rica and Puerto Rico. These data are helping us understand the feedbacks between microclimatic conditions and vegetation change during succession.
25 years in the making, Jennifer’s story about a young coati living in the rain forest is finally out in Current Conservation Kids. Read the story here.
As Dr. Leland left for greener pastures, we have been lucky to have Dan Du, who recently completed his bachelor’s degree at Indiana University, join the lab as a technician. Dan immediately got into the swing of things…. his first day of work was flying to Puerto Rico to help us measure some trees.
Leland successfully defended his dissertation in early December and now is Dr. Werden! From thousands of seedlings, to thousands of functional trait measurements… now we know that it is possible to restore degraded vertisols. Nice work!
This fall we welcomed lots of new people into the lab. From left to right: Laura Toro is a new graduate student from Colombia in the PMB graduate program, Juan Dupuy from CICY in Merida, Mexico is visiting our lab along with his family for a sabbatical as a Fulbright Fellow, and Naomi Schwartz started an NSF-funded postdoc after finishing her PhD at Columbia University. It is super to have so many tropical dry forest enthusiasts braving the winter in Minnesota.
As part of the Broader Impacts for her NSF-DDIG, Christina Smith-Martin has been using simple and effective methods to help teachers communicate basic concepts in plant biology to grade school students. They have been looking at xylem in celery that was dyed blue and thinking about how soda moves up through straws. This is when she is not digging up whole trees and lianas!