Studying plants in the field allows for a more comprehensive understanding of their natural history. Three major field seasons were completed in the contiguous United States (2014, 2016), China (2015), and Alaska (2016). Fieldwork in North America spanned 11 states covering the Appalachians, Rockies, Sierra Nevada, Coast Ranges, Cascades, Alaska Range, Brooks Range, and Wrangells. Fieldwork in China was completed as part of the NSF East Asia Pacific Summer Institute for Graduate Students (EAPSI) in collaboration with the Kunming Institute of Botany and Chinese Academy of Sciences. From every population, we collected plants to create multiple voucher specimens to distribute and preserve in U.S. and Chinese herbaria and dry samples in silica for DNA extraction and use in molecular phylogenetic analysis; DNA samples were also deposited in the FLMNH cryogenic repository for long-term storage, making them available for future studies. Additionally, we photographed the plants and habitat, collected GPS points, and recorded ecological data and morphological measurements. The benefits of field studies have been twofold: 1) high-quality DNA has been extracted from fresh leaf tissue and 2) we have been able to correctly identify and distinguish specimens in the field, when most taxonomic keys have failed.
In 2014, I loaded my gear into my car and drove around North America for three months searching for plants. My goal was to sample from every major mountain range in U.S.A and I successfully hiked, camped, and collected in the Appalachins, Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevada, Cascades. I collected plants in North Carolina, Missouri, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. This fieldwork was funded by grants from John Paul Olowo Memorial Fund, Society of Systematic Biologist, Native Plant Society of Oregon, American Society of Plant Taxonomist, and the Idaho Native Plant Society.
In 2015 I spent two months researching Micranthes in China. This research was funded through a fellowship sponsored and organized by the National Science Foundation, Ministry of Science and Technology of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and China Science and Technology Exchange Center. In China, as part of the East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes in China for U.S. Graduate Students in Science and Engineering (EAPSI), I collaborated with Dr. Chun-Lei Xiang at the Kunming Institute of Botany. I collected plants in the provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan, Qinghai, and Jilin.
In 2016, the majority of my fieldwork was in Alaska, but I also collected from Arkansas, California, and Washington. For this fieldwork I am very grateful to have received funding from the Arctic Institute of North America, California Native Plant Society,the Washington Native Plant Society, Torrey Botanical Society Graduate Student Research Fellowship, Arkansas Native Plant Society Delzie Demaree Research Grant, Cactus and Succulent Society of America Research Grant, The Explorers Club Exploration Fund – Mamont Scholars Program, and the Alaska Geographic Murie Science and Learning Center Science Education Grant.
An understanding of natural history is pivotal to evolutionary studies so this fieldwork conducted for my research was indispensable. I am very grateful for both the financial support received from grants and to all the people I met along the way. During summer 2016 I worked on my non-scientific/adventure writing skills, so if you are interested please check out my blog from Alaska.
For the Alaska Fieldwork 2016 Blog click here.
For the Alaska Fieldwork 2016 Photos click here.
For the China Fieldwork 2015 Blog click here.
For the China Fieldwork 2015 Photos click here.
For the North America Fieldwork 2014 Photos click here.