Sunday, June 30, 2013

L. Beckman HJA Week 1



9:10 pm 06/24/13 Quartz Creek Building HJ Andrews HQ
To Whom It May Concern,
            Lo! I hath begun my four-week quest to achieve scientific success at HJ Andrews Experimental Forest. Let us explore this majestic Northwest forest together, with the triumphant and cascading symphony of science echoing in our minds!
            We began our journey by meeting the collegiate students, the USFS researchers, and the HJA scientists. Charles Halpern guided us all from this to a quick tour of the labs to a checkout of equipment. Once we were suited up, we loaded up our vehicles and sped off to Bunchgrass Ridge. With a spirited gusto we hiked around and perused the study areas, identifying a multitude of flora and fauna on the way. The time sped past as we were taught the basics of the research plots and transects. Just when, mind could not take any more information, we concluded our trip and traveled back to camp. We had successfully concluded our first work day.
            I look forward to the next four weeks with the promise of intellectual pursuit, scientific progress, and personal achievement. I conclude this journal entry with a quote from William Mathews: “A great deal of the joy of life consists in doing perfectly, or at least to the best of one’s ability, everything which he attempts to do. There is a sense of satisfaction, a pride in surveying such a work—a work which is rounded, full, exact, complete in it’s parts—which the superficial man, who leaves his work in a slovenly, slipshod, half-finished condition, can never know, It is this conscientious completeness which turns work into art. The smallest thing, well done, becomes art.”
Liam Beckman

8:58 pm 06/25/13 Quartz Creek Building HJ Andrews HQ
To Whom It May Concern,
            The second day is done and we are furthering our botanical skills and expertise. We focused on plant identifications during work today, especially in regard to grasses and other “hard to ID” plants. I have a lot to learn but I am surrounded by very bright and very kind men and women. It has been great to work alongside people who live and breathe biology as it serves as a tremendous source of inspiration. We also centered our efforts around plant cover estimations. In order to maximize the accuracy of findings/data, we need to calibrate our estimations relative to one another. It is of great relief to find that this is not a harsh or cold effort, but rather a team-effort enhanced by supportive research members. The greatest challenge so far is the sheer quantity of facts and knowledge needed to succeed here. Yet with a persistent and focused effort, I am confident that such a challenge is achievable. Furthermore I know that if I am able to play with science as a friend, and simply work with science as a colleague, I will have achieved success. I conclude this journal entry with a quote from Stanley Hall: “Play is pleasurable mental and physical competitive exercise where the issues involved are trivial and transient. It is a fit preparation for more important tasks. And it is the law of life that you only do these things well at which you have played in childhood.”
Liam Beckman

9:01 pm 06/26/13 Quartz Creek Building HJ Andrews HQ
To Whom It May Concern,
            A torrential downpour soaked our jackets, slowed our progress, and soggied our dispositions. Fortunately, I avoided the latter two with a thermos of warm tea. Charles was unable to accompany us today sue to prior arrangements. As such, the role of leader fell on several talented collegiate team members. We continued our work with quadrants both in identifying plants and estimating plant cover. We calibrated as a whole team today, with some hit-and-misses. We will later calibrate with Charlie to confirm our estimation paradigms. Today’s rainstorm drove us back to HQ several hours early, where we then continued research under the lab’s dry roof. Despite and present challenges, I feel confident that our collective skills are increasing.
 HJA Day is tomorrow, and I look forward to partaking in the activities, as well as catching up with my readings. I close this journal entry y with a quote by Emerson: “The power of a man increases steadily by continuance in one direction. He becomes acquainted with the resistances and with his own tools; increases his skill and strength and learns the favorable moments and favorable accidents. He is his own apprentice, and more time gives a great addition of power, just as a falling body acquires momentum with every foot of the fall.”
Liam Beckman
9:00 pm 06/27/13 Quartz Creek Building HJ Andrews HQ

To Whom It May Concern,
            HJA Day was really-jam-packed and educational. We began by rotating around four stations
1.      Stream/Light Temperature Dynamics
2.      “Ellie’s Log” Author Interviews
3.      Spotted Owl Population Studies
4.      GREENhouse Exploration.
I especially enjoyed the artwork and themes of “Ellie’s Log”. Ms. Li stated that she wished to inspire 8-12 year olds to pursue science and explore the outdoors—a very admirable goal. For myself, a large portion of my interest in science stems from my time in 3rd-5th grade with wonderful teachers.
            Later, I embarked on a field trip to a down-log/decomposition site. The rip leaders had us observe the forest and write about our impressions. They explained the 200-year ecological experiment centered around decomposition and artistic expression. Established in 1982, this project aims to bring together a long-term, comprehensive analysis of specific forest dynamics. The addition of writers makes it a rather unique experiment.
            Tomorrow, Wirt, Magee, and I will have a longer day because we will work with the Hummingbird Catching Crew. I look forward to this new opportunity. I conclude this journal entry with a quote by L.M. Alcott: “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can lookup and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
Liam Beckman

8:38 pm 06/28/13 Quartz Creek Building HJ Andrews HQ
To Whom It May Concern,
            today served as a great day to conclude the working week—a 14 hour day with 3 different crews and with the first sweltering day of our time here. Magee, Shannon, and I spent an hour with the hummingbird catching crew, 10 hours with the Bunchgrass crew, and an hour with the songbird catching crew. Our time with the bird crews was especially interesting as we got to observe their species up close.
            We collected love data for the first time while at Bunchgrass Ridge. My partner, Betsy, and I completed plant-cover estimations for three subplots with four 1x1 meter quadrants each. It was tough work and drained me mentally and physically, but Betsy stayed positive and supportive the entire time. I plan to continue my reading and exploration of the surrounding area over the weekend. I conclude this journal entry with a quote by Leigh Hunt: “There are two worlds; the world that we can measure, with line and rule, and the world that we feel with our hearts and imagination.”
Liam Beckman

8:09 pm 06/29/13 Quartz Creek Building HJ Andrews HQ
To Whom It May Concern,
            I centered today around reading and general recuperating. I continued my studies with biology and introduced myself to cellular respiration and other cool biological systems. I was wondering just how plants know sunlight shines on them? Furthermore, when they know, what actually happens? My biology textbook (Biological Science, Scott Freeman, 3 ed., p. 859) answered both questions relatively easy. What happens is a multistep process that begins in the cell (in the case of sunlight shining on a plant, this process starts with a receptor cell). When sunlight hits a plant, a receptor protein in a receptor cell changes its shape in response to this external signal. This allows the protein to catalyze a chemical reaction—a phosphorylation reaction. This reaction either continues down in a phosphorylation cascade or releases a second messenger (typically calcium ions). In either case, there are three endgames before the signal leaves the cell:
1.      A specific DNA segment is activated or repressed in its transcription;
2.      mRNA, tRNA, and rRNA proteins are activated or repressed in their transcription;
3.      A channel or pump has its ion flow changed.
In all three instances, the receptor cell generally then releases a hormone, or a cell-to-cell messenger, to other cells. These internal receptor cells translate the hormone into a message that then changes activity within the plant (in the case of the sunlight, the internal receptor cells may tell the plant to grow toward the sun).
 Tomorrow I plan to explore the terrain and begin our final project with the poster. I conclude this journal entry with a quote by James Russell Lowell: “Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character.”
Liam Beckman

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