Scientist for the Day: Boechera Stricta

The last day I spent in Gunnison I decided to join Bashira and Dustin, her research assistant, on herScientist-0008 Boechera Stricta field research, regarding the plants’ genetics and their adaptation to climate change. I met Bashira and Dustin at The Wanderlust Hostel. Bashira was staying there temporarily while working on a research project. As we got to talking about her research I asked how someone got into field research, and then asked if anyone can go out there and help. Hoping to get invited into the field for a day, I beat around be the Boechera Strica ‘bush’. Not getting the answer I wanted, I directly asked if I could join them for a day. She said yes but she couldn’t pay me. I told her I wasn’t looking for payment just knowledge, experience and something to do. She bought me coffee and then lunch, which was more than enough payment. We went to a two of her research sites.Scientist-0001 The first site was a number of plots laid out, each plot having a 13X13 seed grid to measure the germination cycle. And then several rows of Boechera Stricta, which is a weed in the tobacco family. Boechera Weed is a self-pollenating plant, which makes each seed a clone. This, Bashira was explained, is beneficial in monitoring gene mutations. Boechera Stricta grows at various elevations 8,000-14,000 feet. They had collected the Boechera stricta seeds from various elevations and planted them in several sites at different elevations to observe how they adapt.
At the first site Bashira gave me the rundown on her research and Boechera Stricta.Scientist-0011 I took photos of each seed grid and the whole plot, and then shoveled some snow to prevent melt water from running into the site. They recorded the growth data. The second site was more interesting for me. I took photos of the seed grids and plots, and then I measured the available space for planting more plots. This site also had sensor systems installed. These sensor systems collected data in fifteen minute intervals. They extended 10cm into the ground monitoring the ground temperature and moisture. I downloaded the data from the sensors into Bashira’s laptop, I then had to make notes of each sensor and which plot they correlated with.

(Update: I also plan on helping Bashira with her new exploratory research by photographing bee’s while I am in India!)

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