Orientation week has come and gone, and I, along with the rest of the Doris Duke cohort, have started my research placement. I have always been intimidated by the lab environment. I thought it was an experience reserved for people much smarter than me. This, by the way, also played a role in my adding on my PITE (Program in The Environment) major so late instead of initially coming in as an environmental science major. Luckily this placement is a good mix of lab work and field work, and I expect to gain confidence in both areas.
I was placed in Jennifer Blesh’s agroecology lab in SNRE. Jennifer is an assistant professor at U of M and does really interested work related to sustainable agriculture both at U of M and internationally. Her work in Brazil considers social aspects of sustainable farming as well. As someone who has worked on a farm in the past and seen the struggles of small family farms, I truly appreciate the work she and the rest of the people who work in her lab are doing.
Everyone has been very welcoming to me, explaining processes and helping me with tasks. Talking to the PhD students has been particularly interesting because, as someone who is vaguely interested in grad school, I get to hear about what their programs and respective academic journeys have been like.
I’m currently helping on a couple projects. Two look at the effects of different cover crop combinations on nitrogen levels in soil and soil health in general. The other project focuses on intercropping between beans and lettuce and how it affects the plant growth and the nutrients within the plant itself.
I look forward to picking a specific project to focus in on for my final research poster.