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Fresh New Faces of Research

June 2014: Fresh New Faces of Research

When June finally rolls around we look forward to a rebirth as long dormant flowers bloom, new leaves unfurl, and baby birds hatch.   For this June edition of the NRS homepage we feature the fresh faces of research by profiling a new scientist, hot-off-the-presses publications, a new and innovative summer recruitment tool, and partnerships that bring young scholars on board for the summer to work on urban forestry projects in southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware. 

Environmental Education Links

Ever wonder who becomes a scientist, or what they do? Check out our Scientist Trading Cards and find out why people choose to become scientists, what their most exciting discoveries are, and what type of equipment and technology they use.

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[image:] Plum landing graphicHere’s a fresh face from PBS Kids for 6- to 9- year olds as they discover the world around them: Plum, a friendly alien from the Planet Blorb, who longs to experience nature! She’s commandeered a space ship and zoomed down to earth, where she and her new friends – Clem, Oliver, Gabi, Brad and Cooper – are exploring our gorgeously diverse planet, including forests, both urban and remote.

Travel on down to www.pbkids.org/plumlanding and see your planet from a whole new perspective!  

Featured Scientist

Shaneka Lawson

Shaneka LawsonOne of the newer additions to the permanent scientific staff at the Northern Research Station is Shaneka Lawson, a research plant physiologist working at the Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center, a partnership between the Station and Purdue University in Indiana. Lawson graduated from Purdue University in 2011 with a PhD in Molecular Tree Physiology, and since being hired has spent much of her time conducting research in support of conservation and restoration of Acacia koa in Hawaii. 

The Koa tree, a Hawaiian native, has significant cultural and economic value to the Hawaiian people; however, tree populations have declined significantly in recent decades.  Overgrazing by free-range cattle, over-harvesting, and invasive grasses are among the factors contributing to the decline.  Lawson is approaching the problem from a genetic perspective by using NextGeneration Sequencing technologies to identify genes that play a role in the adaptation of Koa to its environment.  In this way she can determine which trees have the greatest chance of survival and in turn increase success of restoration efforts.

More Information >>

Featured Product

Recruitment map

Northern Research Station Employment Map.We want great minds working on the environmental challenges facing our nation and the entire globe, and great minds come from all communities. Earlier this year, we implemented a new strategy designed to reach a broader range of candidates for summer jobs.  At the heart of the strategy was an interactive recruitment map posted on the NRS website that identified all summer job opportunities across the Station’s 20-state region.  Clicking on a location brought up key information about the job including job title, pay level (grade), start and end dates, vacancy numbers and when job advertisements closed.  We used email and social media, including Twitter to enhance outreach and make more people in our target audience aware of these opportunities.  According to several scientists who hired summer students, use of the recruitment map helped them reach more schools and yielded more diverse candidate pools than they had been able to reach previously.     

Although temporary, summer jobs provide a wealth of opportunities for students exploring career options or just wanting to broaden their knowledge and experience base.  In turn, students bring diversity, either culturally or experientially, to the Forest Service that benefits and enriches our workforce.

More Information about former students and their summer job experiences >>

Featured Research

Forest Inventory and Analysis Annual State Reports

Map showing abundance of American beech in New York StateSome of the freshest research information to be found on the Northern Research Station website comes in the form of the NRS Forest Inventory and Analysis (NRS-FIA) program’s annual state reports.  These publications report the latest findings on amounts of forestland area, numbers of trees, volume, and biomass for the 24 states that NRS-FIA inventories.  They also describe the changes that have occurred in forest attributes since the last inventory cycle.  The estimates of forest characteristics are derived from data collected on a network of field plot locations across the northern region as well as the Plains states (ND, SD, NE, and KS). Changes in tree volume are further partitioned into growth, mortality, and removals categories. Additional analyses provide more detailed information such as area of forestland in various forest types and stand size domains and examination of the top ten species by volume.

Each annual report also includes information on a specific issue relevant to forest resources in the state. These assessments provide insight into current or potential impacts of factors such as invasive pests, invasive plants, pathogens, forest ownership patterns, tree regeneration, and land use changes on forest health.  

More Information >>

Featured Partnership

Sustainability Science Fellows at Philadelphia Field Station

Dexter Locke and Vi Nyugen look at references related to tree giveaway programs.

The Philadelphia Field Station, established in 2011 by the Northern Research Station in partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, will soon be welcoming its third “class” of Sustainability Science Fellows to begin work this month.  The 2014-2015 Science Fellowship Program is sponsored by a partnership of four local organizations: the Philadelphia Field Station, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Delaware.  The Fellowship Program is intended to promote environmental literacy and collaborative learning activities and increase awareness of career opportunities in urban natural resource stewardship for budding scientists.  The Fellowship includes a $5,000 award, opportunities to network with the urban natural resource stewardship community in Philadelphia, and mentorship by Forest Service scientists.  

The 2014 Sustainability Science Fellowships were recently awarded to Joe Bondi, an undergraduate at the University of Delaware; Dan Betz, a Masters student at Rutgers University in New Jersey; Vi Nguyen, an undergraduate student at the University of California Berkeley; Katherine Foo, a doctoral candidate from Clark University in Massachusetts; and Dexter Locke, a doctoral  candidate also from Clark University.     

Over the course of the fellowship, fellows will gain experience in conducting literature reviews, developing research questions, collecting data, and developing a poster presentation. The fellows are expected to complete their work by May 2015.   

More Information >>