Studying Trees and Climate Change in Harvard Forest Program
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS –
JULY 21, 2014 – Ivonne Trujillo, a
senior biology major at The
University of Texas at Brownsville, is spending her summer researching the impacts of climate
change on the Northeast’s forests.
UTB Biology student Ivonne Trujillo studies the impacts of climate change on plant phenology with Dr. Andrew Richardson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, as part of the Harvard Forest Summer Research Program on Wednesday, Jun. 25, 2014 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Trujillo, 20, of
Brownsville and a 2011 graduate of Lopez High School, is part of the Harvard
Forest Summer Research Program in Ecology which began Monday, May 26 and
ends Saturday, Aug. 9 in Petersham, Mass. The research program is
administered by Harvard University.
Trujillo’s work has
involved being hoisted up to 80 feet in the air in a bucket lift to collect
tree samples. She has also used remote cameras to observe the tree tops as she
studies leaves closer to ground-level in a laboratory. Her laboratory work includes
using a fluorometer to measure chlorophyll fluorescence in plants and a
spectroradiometer to determine leaf reflectance. She said learning programming
language has helped her manage the research data.
“I will use all this
data that is collected from both the cameras and the instruments and program to
plot and form graphs to view the comparison of the seasonal trend and see how
it is affected by climate change,” said Trujillo.
Trujillo has also
hiked in the mountains and visited Boston and New York City during her summer
“Participating in this
program will extend my knowledge of forest ecosystems, which has relevance to
my current research,” said Trujillo. “Learning about experimental set up and
design will help me develop my research skills and allow me to grow as an
While at UTB, Trujillo
has worked as an undergraduate research assistant focused on plant and
ecosystem ecology. She has assisted in field and laboratory work to restore
habitats to their natural state. Her research at UTB has looked at factors
influencing the germination of seeds from the deciduous conifer, the Siberian
larch, to determine if seed viability influences forest regrowth after
wildfires in boreal forests.
Trujillo wants to one
day become a research scientist. She is still thinking about whether to pursue
graduate degrees in ecology or biology.
“I come from a family
where my twin brother and I will be the first to graduate from a university,”
said Trujillo. “Being a first generation college student from a historically
disadvantaged region makes me self-motivated and willing to overcome any
obstacle to succeed. I really appreciate the support and the help I received
from not only my family, but from the laboratory team under Dr. Heather
Alexander (Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences) and
the staff at the Office of the President who I as well consider my family.”
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