A Peek at Life Under a Wheat Field: Reflections from an LTER Fellow

MSU graduate researcher, Allison Zahorec, is a PhD student in Dr. Doug Landis’s lab in the Department of Entomology at Michigan State University. Allison Zahorec holding a core of soil taken out of a wheat field at the LTER. Photo by Kurt Stepnitz. When one envisions a typical midwestern farm, ‘biodiversity’ is hardly the first thing that comes to mind. Compared to more natural landscapes, agricultural lands can seem like ecological dead zones. Yet even the most intensively managed corn monocultures are teeming with life belowground. A few teaspoons of soil can contain over a billion

On Data and Reverie: A Farmer and Writer-in-Residence at the KBS LTER

Erin Schneider, farmer writer in residence at KBS. A blooming redbud tree flashed a profusion of pink outside the large windows in the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station’s Terrace Room. Inside, vases of freshly-picked plants spiffed up the small tables set around the room: milkweed, wood sorrel, garlic mustard, purple dead nettle, dame’s rocket, and motherwort. The bouquets were more than decoration; they were little collections of inspiration from a week spent exploring the lands, people and research at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station. Self-described “people, plants and dirt-lover” Erin

Seeking a more resilient agriculture: the next chapter for the KBS LTER program

Imagine for a moment a Midwestern agricultural landscape in late August that has not seen rain in weeks. Some corn fields remain green, showing no sign of a moisture deficit while other fields have curled leaves, plants starting to yellow. Belowground, microbial communities between the fields are acting differently, too, some biding their time until a pulse of rain puts them in motion while others continue their work. Under the same climate and soils, why is one field more resilient to the stress of drought? What about that field helps it to remain productive? In the midst of global

How can microbes in the soil affect greenhouse gases and mitigate climate change? An LTER researcher hopes to find out

This post was originally featured on Greenboard, the blog of the Environmental Science and Policy Program at Michigan State University on May 31st, 2018. Di Liang is a PhD candidate and LTER grad in Dr. Phil Robertson's lab at MSU's Kellogg Biological Station. ~~~~~~~~~~~ Di Liang is a doctoral student in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences and MSU's Kellogg Biological Station. This summer, he is working to identify the soil microbial sources of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. It is his hope that knowing how these microbes contribute to N2O fluxes can offer

Evolution in the LTER: Reflections from an LTER researcher

Each year the KBS LTER awards full and summer fellowships to MSU graduate students. MSU graduate researcher Susan Magnoli is a PhD student in Jen Lau's lab in the Department of Plant Biology. She wrote about her 2017 KBS LTER summer fellowship project. When you think about studies of evolutionary biology, images of Darwin’s finches, diverse fish communities, or beautiful tropical forests might come to mind. But what about agricultural landscapes? While they at first might not appear to be the most exciting habitats, the farm fields and biofuel crops of the Kellogg B

Researchers conduct novel wheat microbiome analysis under four management strageties.

This is an original press release from American Phytopathological Society- Nov 27th, 2017 St. Paul, Minn. (November 2017)--Different crop management strategies can produce various and noticeable effects on a crop and its yield. But what are the effects at the microbial level...not just in the roots but the entire plant? Molecular biologists Kristi Gdanetz and Frances Trail of Michigan State University sought to answer that question, developing a descriptive analysis of the wheat microbiome under four common types of management strategies: conventional, no-till, organic, and reduced

A local bestiary – the bugs & slugs of KBS: Reflections from an undergraduate researcher

KBS undergraduate summer researcher Elizabeth Postema is a senior at Denison University. She wrote about her Research Experiences for Undergraduates project working with mentor and LTER researcher Dr. Jen Lau, in her lab at MSU. Postema was funded by an NSF REU site award to the Kellogg Biological Station. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ The best part about working at a field station is getting to, very literally, connect with nature. As a participant in an REU (which stands for “Research Experiences for Undergraduates”) program at the Kellogg Biological Station, I spent most of my sum

Almost failing a semester to learn about climate change: Reflections from an undergraduate researcher

KBS undergraduate summer researcher Daimer Castro Vega  is a junior at the University of Puerto Rico. He wrote about his Research Experiences for Undergraduates project working with mentor and LTER researcher Kate Glanville, a PhD student in Dr. Phil Robertson's lab at MSU. Daimer was funded by an NSF REU site award to the Kellogg Biological Station. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ If you know something about Puerto Rico, you might have heard that there is a huge debt and that the students went on a strike on April 7, 2017 for more than two months with only three weeks

Before and after: Reflections from an undergraduate researcher

KBS undergraduate summer researcher Harry Ervin is a sophomore at Calvin College. He wrote about his Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) project working with mentor Tayler Chicoine, a PhD student in Dr. Sarah Evans Lab at MSU. Harry was funded by an NSF REU site award to the Kellogg Biological Station. ~~~~~~~~~~ When I first arrived at the Kellogg Biological Station (KBS), I didn’t know what to expect. I had never heard of KBS before applying, could not have told you REU stands for Research Experiences for Undergraduates, and had no clear path for my f

My amazing experience at KBS: Reflections from an undergraduate researcher

KBS undergraduate summer researcher Lauren Davis  is a junior at Alcorn State University.  She wrote about her Research Experiences for Undergraduates project working with mentor and LTER scientist Dr. Jen Lau at MSU. Lauren was funded by an NSF REU site award to the Kellogg Biological Station.~~~~~~~~~~ Prior to applying to the Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) to work as an REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates), I did not have any research experience. I was thrilled when I found out that I had been given the opportunity to participate in the REU program.