Summer on a Shoestring

For the love of soil
July 22, 2016, 1:35 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

IMG_2779Caitlin Buchheim

This is just a glimpse of all the work that Cindy Sosa and I put into our soil research projects. We spent countless hours collecting, sieving, weighing, and manipulating our soil. Our results aren’t completely finished yet…so stay tuned!

Birthday Drama
July 19, 2016, 5:54 pm
Filed under: Daily life, Uncategorized

Shan Shan

Fell sick during fertilization.  Shinjini took me to Memorial hospital right on my birthday.  The examination went on and on with the doctor coming up with hypotheses.   Finally doctor told me my blood sodium level dropped below normal and handed me two cans of Gatorade.  It was nearly dinner time when we left hospital.  Worrying messages kept coming to Shinjini’s phone.  We went to Hannaford for two whole packs of Gatorade then went to a steak house where others have been there waiting for me.  Everyone made sure I ate lots of salt on my steak.  After dinner when I got home all lights were off.  When I entered the door everyone welcomed me with a giant chocolate cake lighted by candles in their hands, singing happy birthday to me.  Candle light warmed up the house and my heart, along with a little goose draw by Caitlin and my name written by Shiyi.  It was a great cake.

Keepin Hubbard Brook Weir’d! By Jessica Swindon
August 3, 2015, 3:52 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

It all started on an early Tuesday morning in July when I woke up with racing thoughts about the upcoming week, How will Ruth like my presentation? What kind of talks am I going to hear at Hubbard Brook? Who will I meet there? The 2015 shoestring crew loaded up and headed out to meet Ruth at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest to practice the presentations we would be giving the very next day. The long but productive practice session ended with plenty of yummy pizza, thanks to Ruth, and setting up our tents at the Hubbard Brook intern’s house. The next day was the start of the 60th anniversary of the Hubbard Brook Foundation and we were all excited to be a part of it!

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The very next day we would all be presenting our projects to 180 people ranging from interns just like us to phD professors to the creators of the Hubbard Brook conference. The morning came quick and the shoestring crew was on their toes because they always kick off the conference bright and early at 8 am. Once we arrived at the conference the adrenaline started up and the fact that we were going to have to present to a packed room of scientists really started to set in. We all presented one after another and survived without too much scrutiny from our peers. After the talks were over there were a lot of deep breaths and smiles on everyone’s faces. We did it! Now it was time to sit back and listen to an array of projects that were also being conducted at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. The presentations were of a range of topics including ice storm experiments, swimming salamanders, calcium manipulations and many more! After a long day of listening to amazing scientific studies being conducted in the nearby forests it was finally time for a quick swim in mirror lake before heading to dinner and the famous barn dance. After a quick but delicious meal it was finally time to put on our dancing shoes. Choosing the right contradance partner was by far the most difficult task of the day! My advice is to choose someone who is fun and likes to pay attention, it’s easy to get tangled up. After lots of stumbling feet and uncontrollable laughing we headed back to our camping spot and ended the long day with even more great conversation around a bonfire. The following day included more talks from the higher professionals and we ended the day with a BBQ at mirror lake to make it all worth it. The week of the Hubbard Brook conference was a long one but at the end we left as more educated individuals and gained insight into the many different kinds of projects that are being conducted nearby! A special thanks to all the people who helped organize the conference and to everyone who took the time to present their projects!

Survival Guide: The Long and Short of it. A memoir of the guy, by Matt Hayden
August 3, 2015, 3:48 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The forest and the city are not so different when you look at things through a proper scale. The biggest change here is time. The hustle of the human timescale locks us in to the perception that a week is a long time, and potential events after two weeks time might as well be as defined as prophecy unless explicitly defined. For the forest, a week may be as slight as a second. The forest remains, and it bows to no schedule.

This is an important lesson to learn for the average Shoestring-er. You see, ten weeks can feel like an eternity when you start in June, but now, it is past mid July and the data is just leaking in. You can’t rush results here. That’s exactly where I fall in- I’m the decomposition guy. My  experiment is literally weeks upon weeks of idling, allowing for the forest to progress along that stretched relative timescale and eat away the tea I laid in the soil. I learned very quickly how to be a capable everyman, because when your dedicated project literally involves doing nothing, everyone on the crew has something that needs to be  done. So to be THE GUY, you need a set of resources:

1) Endless wonder. Whether you’re hammering soil cores, running transects, or waiting for the Li- Cor to do whatever it is the Li- Cor does (magic), keeping an open mind for discovery is essential. You’ll go nuts if your mind isn’t active.

2) Undying optimism. You got SOMETHING for results… could be worse, right?

3) Unwavering confidence. Even if you’re not sure if the Ca plot is to the east or the west of the NP, someone needs to make the call. And hey, who can complain about a little extra exercise?

4) Exceptional navigational skills. The reference in #3 may or may not be fictional. Owning a vehicle is a huge plus.

5) Patience. This- and that- and the other, too- shall come to pass.

Really, I could not have asked for a better, more diverse experience. It has been a huge effort on the part of everyone here, and I am glad I got to tag along for the ride(s). Every day surprises me, and it keeps me sharp and on my toes- an invaluable life skill as a scientist in the field that we should all take away from one or another.

“In the forest I return to my faith and reason” – The Earth Speaks


Four Weeks With MELNHE, getting sappy! Tales by Jessie Smith!
August 3, 2015, 3:47 am
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My name is Jessie Smith. I was fortunate enough to spend a short 4 weeks as a part of the MELNHE Project summer internship crew. With only my freshman year at ESF behind me and no prior field experience, I was both nervous and excited to travel the 9 hours from New York to New Hampshire for the internship. My nerves soon disappeared once I began meeting the other project interns. Some were grad students, or had just received their degrees, or were at varying levels of undergrad. Even though most of the interns were more experienced or had obtained more knowledge than what I had after one year of college, I realized that we were all in Bartlett for two common reasons: our love for the environment, and our willingness to keep learning, despite the previous knowledge or experience that we may or may not have already had. So with the initial nerves out of the way, all that remained was the excitement to learn.


I was a part of the sap flow project along with Brigid (grad student) and Isaac (undergrad) and together we had the responsibility of constructing sensors and implementing them into all nutrient plots in a given stand. There was a learning curve that took place on almost every new aspect of the project. I learned how to write a research proposal, how to efficiently build sensors, how to choose the best trees and how to tap them for the sensors, and how to connect everything together into a functioning unit. I learned why it is important to monitor sap flow, and how our sensors were able to monitor it. I speak for Brigid and Isaac as well when I say that I learned how challenging it can be to conduct research under a low budget, especially when it is a new topic. We worked through the obstacles as a team (go team wolfpas!). It is unfortunate that I had to leave early and miss the completion of setting up C6 and the data collection that came with it. I know Brigid and Isaac (and now Nick) will continue to overcome any new obstacles and successfully finish the project. I wish you guys luck!

Aside from the great working experience I had, everything off the job was just as rewarding. It was so nice becoming friends with ten new people. We had a lot of fun times together. I wish I could have been around to participate in the Secret Santa Christmas and every Friday night holiday after that. Those four weeks would have been completely different if the people I shared it with weren’t so great. Being in the White Mountains was amazing. Every weekend was a new peak to climb, or a new part of the river to explore. I will definitely be returning to that area of New Hampshire. I truly value my time as being a part of the MELNHE crew, not only for the field experience I gained, but for the new people I met and the opportunity to explore a new beautiful part of the country.

2014 Shoestring Crew Summer Awards
August 14, 2014, 12:24 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

 By: Adam Wild – Crew Leader

      As the summer came to an end for the Shoestring crew it was my responsibility and honor as crew leader to hand out the 2014 Shoestring crew awards. The awards this year were chosen by a panel of experts well known for choosing slightly ridiculous awards. Panelist had tough decisions to make as there were many outstanding participants competing for each category. The awards were presented at the first annual Shoestring Ball held at the White House (of course). Black tie attire was required for the grand event. Those in attendance came dressed in their finest evening gowns and could be seen walking down the blue linoleum tile in the laundry room as they entered the grand ball room of the White House which was decorated with 1960’s wood paneling. Ladies in attendance came dressed in elegant gowns made of garbage bags, twister mats, or bath towels. The men were seen in oak leaf ties, bow-ties, and even a bolo-tie made from tree flagging and a beer cap.  There was also a surprise appearance by Gunny, Lisa’s not-so-excited dog who slept through the awards ceremony.


Shoestring Scientific Achievement Awards 2014:

For being the best one pan chef: Justin T. Turlip – Justin has a cook book called “Two Dudes, One Pan”

For being the most midwesterner – Hannah Babel – Ways of the northeast were very unique for Hannah’s midwestern roots 

For being technical supports best friend: Jerome C. Barner – Jerome spent countless hours talking with LI-COR technical support

As the best finger piercer: Sophie L. Harrison – Sophie managed to put a sapflow sensor through one finger and into another finger on the opposite hand- and showed no pain  

For being the best boat-in-a-bottle builder: Stephanie Suttenberg – Inspired by a large jug of wine Stephanie spent her off hours whittling a boat from a native Bartlett tree to build a boat in a bottle – she will finish it and send a picture to us all  

Listening to the most jazz music: Raymond Lee – Ray loved listening to smooth jazz as he worked on the SAStop in the White House 

For packing the best bear lunch:  Dominic Forlini – Dom had his lunch stolen from a bear (see earlier post)

For being patient zero: Eli Egan-Anderson – Eli was the first to get the plague (a 24 hour stomach bug) which quickly spread through the rest of the camp and wiped out all but a couple tough field crew members  

For being the soil pH queen: Lisa Carper – Lisa, our local high school student, tirelessly measured soil pH of soil samples from our Ca addition plots and was our youngest member to ever present at the Hubbard Brook meeting     

The crew with their awards after the ceremony

The crew with their awards after the ceremony

Thanks to all  who participated in the award ceremony and a huge thanks to everyone on the Shoestring crew this summer. They did a great job and had a lot of fun along the way. It was sad to leave at the end of the summer. 

~Their Glorious Leader



Summer Memories
August 13, 2014, 5:07 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

By: Eli Egan-Anderson – REU, Cornell 

         It’s the last day of the field season (at least for us REUs) and I’m sitting in the white house dining room watching Adam pack up his bags for (probably) the last time he’ll be living and working here, so it’s pretty easy to be nostalgic about what had to be one of the greatest summers of my life. It’s funny what reminds you of something fun, in fact as I was shoving shelves on shelves of leaf litter into bags I was already reminiscing about collecting from the stands and the sad feeling that I won’t ever go eat lunch on the big rock in C8 or visit the spot where I chased a bear away from Dom’s lunch (though I was too late) in C7. Admittedly I won’t miss it all: the hike to C3 with 50 lbs of fertilizer in a frame backpack or the horrifying sounds of my cars axle complaining about the drive over to Jeffers brook, but the days without great memories are few and far between.

Paradise Swimming Hole

Paradise Swimming Hole

                That being said what I’ll remember most about the summer is not the great field work opportunities (how many people get to shoot branches off trees with a shotgun….for science?) or even the wise life lessons we heard every day from Our Glorious Leader (“Who needs coffee when we have each other!?”) but it’s the people who made up this amazing crew who make the summer unforgettable. Our permanent allstar REU lineup included Justin Turlip (aka J Baby, twopan, our glorious chef) the soil moisture guy who at one point was under the impression he could actually get me in shape if he could only get us to run more (I showed him!); Sophie Harrison (more often Soapy or the big ole sausage) the sappy sap flow leader who managed to not only make a million sensors, but also stick one through her finger; Stephanie Suttenberg (exclusively called  Stephy-baby) who knew more about snails than anyone despite hardly ever actually seeing them; Hannah Babel (herbal) who could be convinced of anything, including but not limited to Teddy Roosevelt riding a moose and/or a velociraptor; and Dom Forlini who I’m still fairly convinced is actually an Italian chef masquerading as an REU student. We can’t forget the older folk (Bearome, Dawny, and Ray Ray), BU Crew (Danny Boy, Riot, Princess and Troll), the other residents of the compound (Bird God, Bird Scout, Small Mammals, Michelle, Joe and the rest), the Ohio crew (Ginny, Shan, Mike, Chelsea, and Owen), the local teachers who managed to make middle school somehow seem appealing (Sean and Rick), the occasional volunteers (Lisa, Griffin, Abbey, and Nora) and last but not least Our Glorious Leader who taught us everything we know and love about New Hampshire and the White Mountains.


                With a crew like this it’s impossible for anything not to be a great time. Everything we’ve done has been great, from the big things from our near death climb of Huntington’s, floating the Saco in a tube through ‘class 5’ rapids, playing stump on the Fourth of July, hitting up the clubs, countless trips to Bart’s for sandwiches and Cabin Fever for pie, to even the little things like every day work and jumping off the rocks in Paradise were some of the most fun I’ve ever had. Thanks to the shoecrew for the memories and the best summer I’ve ever had!

Jerome Really Enjoying a Hike

Jerome Really Enjoying a Hike

~ Eli 


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