One of the nicest things about being a PhD level scientist is that I don’t have to go in the field all the time anymore. (Trust me, I paid my dues during graduate school.) Mostly, I sit in front of a computer and write proposals (and eventually papers). But sometimes I do get to go out into the field, the place that inspired me to do science in the first place. Last month I had just such an opportunity. I needed to be the second person on a field crew for a graduate student’s project. Over the course of one very long, very hot week, we got treated to wonderful beauty (both grand and intimate) but also got reminded just why we strive not to be field technicians forever. Below the fold I’ve offered up a taste of both worlds.
American water lily (Nymphaea odorata Aiton)
Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria L.)- an invasive exotic that crowds out native wetland species, reducing biodiversity, and is home to hordes of biting mosquitoes. And to think, this was an intentional introduction to North America – people wanted it in their gardens.
Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans ) This was everywhere dry – sometimes growing as dainty little ground cover (as pictured), sometimes as thick vines, and sometimes as (expletive) shrubs 12 feet high. I react very strongly to poison ivy – so despite the heat, I spent my days covered in long clothes.