Thursday, December 27, 2007


Grades are back- better than expected! Christmas was great, got lots of cool stuff the high light: a camera (so I can post lotsa fun stuff up here) & some nice fuzzy wool socks. I also got a gift card to a liquor store (my boyfriend knows me so well). All in all, I cleaned up.

Working on the senior thesis... in short, its going to be two treatments: one that's burn annually & one that's burned biannually, and of course, a control. I'm sampling for NO3, NH4, & P immediately prior to the fire, and then 3 more times following the fire for 6 weeks. This is going to be quite the undertaking, taking four days off school. I just hope my professors are cool.

Speaking of cool professors, my advisor decided he's going to drop a few grand on the project! That's awesome, because testing for all this (at least 120 samples at almost ten bucks a sample)... I can't afford to do laundry, much less a grand.I'm really excited about it.

I'm in communication with a prof out of Wisconsin U. He's got a very exciting project going on. I know, I was going to wait a couple years before attending grad school, but seriously, its a cool project. Look:
We have very broad research interests, ranging from biochemical ecology
to ecosystem ecology. Central themes of our work include chemical
ecology, multi-trophic interactions and evolution. We are especially
interested in the role of plant chemistry in mediating ecological
interactions (especially, but not restricted to, trophic interactions).
Our research focuses on interactions between deciduous trees and
tree-feeding insects, although we do some work with herbaceous plants
and herbivores as well. This research is funded by multiple sources,
principally NSF and DOE.

A major component of our program addresses the independent and
interactive roles of genetics and environment (e.g., resource
availability, defoliation) on chemical defense systems in trees, and
consequences for tree-feeding insects and natural enemies. Our work has
identified the constituents in aspen that are toxic to many forest
insect species (e.g., gypsy moth), and is unraveling the complex of
factors responsible for dramatic variation in levels of these compounds
in the field. A primary emphasis of this research has been to address
the quantitative genetics of, and genetic trade-offs between, chemical
defense and tolerance in aspen. A related research program addresses the
complex of genetic and chemical factors underlying plant and herbivore
community organization in hybrid cottonwoods in riparian habitats of the
intermountain West. This work is being conducted in collaboration with
Tom Whitham and colleagues at Northern Arizona University.

Related research, for which I anticipate new funding in 2008, will
address plant-insect interactions in relation to use of poplar for
biofuel production.

see? And I've done a lot of that stuff: toxicology, genetic work, leaf level chemistry, insect-plant interactions, all that! He & I have had a couple rounds of email go by before I broke the news about my crappy GPA. Its not actually that crappy... but it could be better. I told him about all the other stuff I work with (forestry club, too much work, a high class load, and upper division class). And I sent him my resume... so hopefully he'll under stand.

Oh, look what I found! I didn't even know this was published on line. So thats exciting. I'm at work all alone today. There's not much I can do, with the mail room closed and all. Here are some job sites I've been looking at. This one's Australian natural resource jobs This is Washington I also recommend this for internships. They have a REU program (what's an REU program?)

I had a great time at mine.

Me and 3 friends are leaving tomorrow for a road trip of epic proportions. How epic?
epic. Its going to be really really epic.

To Colorado! Where I haven't been for years and years. I'm going to try to learn how to snowboard, and we're going to see not only yonder mountain string band, but also Split Lip Rayfield. I'm exstoked. I won't be back until the Third when in infamous Blake "The Beat" Rouzer arrives from Humboldt county, CA. Speaking of epic...

See you in '08!

Oh.. and I'm collecting addresses for a massive postcarding project. Send me yours!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Done and done

Witchita Mountains, near Lawton, OK

School's done! Grades aren't posted,but I feel okay about it. I neglected studying much for aerial photogrammetry and GIS in order to take care of ecology. oops. Its an easy class, but I still forget things. The library is closed until tomorrow ( i know, right?). I need to get cracking on my research for my seioe project down in Pushmataha Wildlife Management area. The site is located in an area which borders both southern pine species as well as crosstimbers species. Several different management treatents were preformed on ten acre plots, with several replications. Some were thinned for hardwoods and burned once, others are born every 1-4 years. The aesthetic differences alone are shocking.

I still don't know what I want to do with th study. Here are a few ideas:

soil density,temp min & max, pH
nutrient content compared with litter nutrient content
regeneration of tree species
organic and A horizon depth
invertebrate diversity

I can combine any of these anyway I want. But I was thinking of actually doing an old school clean study, with a hypothesis and everything. I'd like to do this in stead of just having a question, such as 'how are soils different in different fire return intervals? I've never done a study with expectations- more observational. Then I'd just mine the data to see what I get. It'll be an experiment in experiment design. Did I just blow your mind?

Here are a few job postings I'm responding to:

NATURALISTS: Several temporary, full-time positions. Pay: $1500 monthly plus housing. Dates: June – August 2008.
Location: The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, Peterson Bay Field Station, 1 position. Wynn Nature Center, 1 FT and 1 PT position, Alaska.
Qual: Requires relevant knowledge base in forest ecology and in intertidal and marine ecology, and experience as an instructor or interpreter.
Duties: Leads interpretive hikes and activities for diverse groups and develops and co-leads educational programs for children. Designs and develops educational displays and interpretive programs. Assists with training and coaching of interns and volunteers and with routine maintenance of facilities and trails. The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies is a nonprofit, grassroots, education organization based in Homer, Alaska, one of Alaska's premier destinations for environmental education and cotourism. We provide school field trips, natural history educational tours, and educational programs at two locations. Wynn Nature Center is a 140-acre preserve approximately 5 miles from the city of Homer with a day-use cabin, trail system, and staff cabin. Peterson Bay Coastal Science Field Station is a semi-remote, rustic facility approximately 5 miles from Homer across Kachemak Bay, accessible only by boat. The Field Station serves as the base for guided natural history tours on a coastal forest trail system with access to several beaches. The Field Station has shared housing for staff and interns and a fully-equipped kitchen.
Appl: Send resume, cover letter, and 3 references to
Contact: The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, Fax: 907-235-6668, Email: Website:
Filing Date: 02/15/08. (12/12/07-02/14/08)

I don't want to start work that soon, however. I'm going to start looking for jobs in other countries. I plan to wait a couple years for grad school...but I found an assistantship in New Zealand. It started in April...and I don't graduate until May. I would have sefinatey scrapped all my plans for that one.

This site is for some cool research going on in the Mojave Desert. They have what looks to be a huge grant for desert tortoise monitoring. There are a lot of positions, from GIS/GPS, coordinators, Veg surveyors & a lot more. The time line is all early 2008 until early summer. Bad timing for me, but maybe you can use it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

finish lines

Its 2:46 am. I'm in the library. I have "decided" to pull an all nighter. The gods of study blessed me with an innate ability to pull off not sleeping for large amounts of time and still be functional. I once tried my hand at polyphasic sleeping. It worked pretty well for about five days... which was all I needed. It gets a little lonely, I'll tell you that. I've done nothing but study today, aside from about an hour of hanging out. But it'll all be worth it watching those sunsets from a bar or mountain top (I plan on seeing just as much of one as the other) in Colorado. I don't remember the last time I had a beer. Soon, soon.

But, as I'm studying a little Gen ecology, I thought I'd throw out some of the information I'm learning about. It may be a little difficult without graphs, but I'll give it a go anyway.

Plants can be defined based on their shade tolerance. Different tolerances will have different competitive strategies. Both have their perks and downfalls. Starting with a recently disturbed environment, say, a fire that gets rid of everything in the lanscape, shade intolerant (or ruderals) take over. These plants (called weeds by us insensitive types) are bad at competition for resources. So they have to live in places no other plants want to. They include raspberry, sumac, and mulberries. The James Dean of the plant world, they grow fast, die young.

Shade tolerant species come in underneath them, growing a little slow, but steadier. They compete for resources better, because they often need lower amounts. They also grow a little slower, which means they can wait around for the intolereants to die.

These intolerants are usally dominant longer, unless a lot of disturbance happens in the region.

Tolerant species can use lower amounts of light to photosynthesize, anything over 0 PAR in some cases, while Ps won't occur with some intolerants until 50-100 PAR. That means tolerant species can grow in its own shade (the babies can grow under the parents) restocking the lanscape with the same species. This is called a 'climax' species. The existance of a true climax is disputed. There's a joke in that phrase somewhere.

So,my professor mentioned the top six reasons that biodiversity is on the decrease. In order of importance, here they are.
1. habitat loss
2. habitat change
3. competition from exotic species
4. predation by exotics
5. over harvesting
6. poisoning

That means pollution is smaller than any other risk to the environment. It kind of makes you wonder... with all the pollution you see on a day to basis, how many exotic species do you see and simply not realize it? Find out here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Study time

I have consumed 2 double shots expressos and 2 diet cokes today. I have been studying for 9 hours now, and Its 7pm. I fully plan on studying all night. I won't write long, as every awake moment is more valuable than gold this finals week. Geography of the middle east was fine. And done. And that's all that matters.

I just finished up an ecology review session. I'm equally as sure I will get a D, C, or B. I even believe I have a possibility for an A. There's something wrong with that. The lab final given last week ended in near riotous anger. I'd say about 90% of peoplr didn't finish the test in time... including me. It was simply a long test. The professor claimed that any bad tastes left in our mouths were of no cosideration to him, and perhaps we should share them with the department head. The huge out cry led to a ten point curve ( he never curves anything). So, that's nice.

I didn't get that job. He told me he was going to pick me, but thought he may 'be stepping on my other boss' toes'. She works in the same department. Does that sound like crap to you? It kind of does to me. Hmm.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Finals week

I'm listening to this really bazaar rare beck album right now. There's a pretty great song on it called Satan gave me a taco. Its a lot of random noises, and recordings of his friends who must be on some crazy barbituates. Speaking of barbituates... its aderoll season again here at OSU. Finals are upon us. You know, energy drink companies have no qualms with advocating their abuse for the sake of grades. I've only seen one energy drink vending machine in my life, and that one is located on the first floor of OSU's edmon low library.

Most all of my finals are on Thursday and Friday. I have one on Tuesday: geography of the middle east and southwest asia. That class is harder for me than I thought. I've been in such a science & math mind set for awhile that sociology is almost meaningless.

I can't wait for break! I think we're going to take off for a few days to go to Colorado. I need to put in some good hours here though. Root washing and lab stuff. I had my job interview today. It was odd. The two professors I would be working for recieved some money to compile all the research in the universe regarding riparian cottonwoods that turkeys roost in. See, these habitats, due to the fact their located on streams or rivers, are pretty easy to break up. This is happening as eastern red cedar (my tree-nemesis) invade these habitats. That means these turkey populations get isolated and inbreed with eachother.

I'm a little intimidated by the job. If I get it, I'd have to work about 100 hours by mid January. I mean, that is a lot of time. But I can work whenever I want. And I really really am broke, so that'll be nice.

I just got the latest issue of Backpacker magazine. Its a fantastic magazine. They don't focus on any one region, so they always have hikes in my area. They have a calendar of places to go in this one... based on when things are flowering, when the whales are migrating, butterflies, when the snow is best, stuff like that. I really eed to do some great winter camping. There is nothing better than hot food when its 20 degrees out.

I really want to try snow shoeing. Its pretty common for northerners, but definately not for Okies. Its supposed to be exhausting, especially if you're new to the game. Some friends of mine are planning to snowshoe across lake superior to Isle Royale. A 15 mile hike, they're going to have to camp directly on the ice. And they're still going to have to pack really light due to the length of the trip. I would love to go. The island is abandoned in the winter (and why wouldn't it be?) except for the large moose and wolf populations. Don't worry, wolves don't attack people. Seriously, there's never been a documented attack on man by a wolf... but we're bringing guns anyway.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Grass! Jobs! Bangs!

I spent most of today washing roots for work. I work for the Natural Resource Ecology and Management Department. The study I'm working on right now is looking at the effects of an invasive grass called caucasian bluestem or old world blue stem on the tall grass prairie. Here's a picture of a range of tall grass prairie in southern Kansas called the Gyp hills. My boyfriend took that picture while we were visiting family. Its pretty, eh?
Anyway. These grasses were initially planted because they're really great fuel for cattle. But they're outcompeting all the native grasses, like the bluestem grasses. But we're not sure how they're out competing them precisely. This study looks at whether the caucasian bluestem produce a compound that begatively affects the growth of other species (a trait called allelopathy). So we've got all these different soil types found around the four main grasses of the tall grass prairie (little blue stem, big bluestem, yellow blue stem, and caucasian bluestem). We then planted seeds of all four different grasses in the soil type.
We also autoclaved half the samples and repeated the plantings. This will allow us to find out if (presuming there is a difference, and caucasian bluestem do grow better on caucasian blue stem soil) the allelopathic effect is chemical or biotic, as autoclaving would kill all biota.
So today I washed roots so we can compare the below ground biomass of plants found in different soil types. Pretty cool stuff.
My boss is great. She's a genius range scientist who just transferred to OK State from Konza. She's trying to get used to the beurocracy (which took me five years to do) and having to play politics with a group of male, middle-aged, Oklahoman rangeland scientists. Not an easy feat, especially when department resources are in short supply. But she's defiately stepped up to the plate, and she's been a great help to me. She hired me, spoke at a seminar I hosted, and helped me find a mentor for a research project.

I'm losing focus on studying for that test tomorrow... I know what grade I'm going to make. The same grade I've made on everything in this class all semester. Besides, there's really not enough material for a final. Its like one H' caculation and one standard deviation and its done. Besides, I wanted to cut my bangs.

I have a job interview/meeting with a professor on Friday. He's looking for someone to help with a literature seach over the next two months... something about turkey and cottonwood trees. But I can do a mean library search. And $8 an hour in this town is a lot of damn money... I don't even think the girls at the dragon's lair make that much. I just hope I have time to work two jobs, take 15 credit hours, and make an awesome senior research thesis. This is gonna work out just fine.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Dead Week

So its the first day of dead week here at Oklahoma State. For those of you who never have experienced such a thing, allow me to explain. This is the week before finals, and techically, no tests or assignments worth more than 5% of your grade can be assigned. This is done in hopes enough to give students plenty of free time in which to study. But due to tweaks in ethical guidelines, professors tend to make this week just as hellish as any other.
I have two research paper rough drafts due thisweek, one which requires no editing, one which requires a lot. But that being sai, my grades are already pretty set in stone, so I'm not all that concerned. I finished up some data analysis on research I did at my last job.. This project is almost wrapped up, and I'm hoping to present my findings at a conference in Hartford in February. The study looked at invasive insects called hemlock woolly adelgid and their leaf level effects on hemlock trees. I'll post more about the study later. I spent a lot of time on it, & don't want to just brush over it in a short journal entry.
I've never been first author before, even if it is just a poster. I really have no idea what to do while I'm there. Just stand next to it and wait for people to ask me questions, I suppose.
I have a lab practicum in general ecology in two days. This class, which I took just because I thought it was interesting, has turned into a living hell. With three different teachers to answer to, and all of them with something to prove, not a single one of my rades have been as I liked them to be. Every returned test has been a streak of red ink and a small number at the top. No single digits yet...but there are still a few tests left. Especially with the lab practicum graded by grad students. They are the hired bitch of everyone in the department...everyone but the students they T.A. And they weild that broken ego like a weapon in their lab sections. Can you blame them?
I certainly do.

I'm applying for jobs on . Too bad their online application is so buggy.