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Published Writing

Hazelnut Researchers Cover New Ground with Sustainable Method

Around the O, September 2023

Among the bright, leafy hazelnut trees of Dorris Ranch, Jazz Dhillon tosses a PVC pipe frame into the air. She kneels down where the pipe frame lands, cuts all the plants in the frame, and puts them in a white bucket.

A Titan

MIT Scope, July 2023

Few people look to the Charles River to understand water on distant planetary bodies, but MIT planetary science PhD candidate Una Schneck does. In its winding course and varied waves, she sees the forces that control every river, lake, and sea in the solar system.

The Sleepless Forest Observers

MIT Scope, July 2023

The ridges sweep the sky, and the streams sweep the valleys in Oregon’s western Cascade mountains. Three ridges and one stream define the 15,800-acre pork chop-shaped area that is the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest (the Andrews). Like most of the Pacific Northwest, the Andrews is a patchwork of recently logged forests, 700-year-old ones, and everything in between. The old growth stands are dominated by cedars, hemlocks, and Douglas firs. Some Douglas firs stretch 250 feet high.

Fragmentation Begets Fragmentation

MIT Scope, June 2023

Not long ago, you could hear the melodious rustle of wind in the tall grasses across Iowa. Now, most of it is filled with the more discordant sounds of wind in corn fields. Less than 0.1% of Iowa’s tallgrass prairie remains. The rest has been replaced by industrial farms.

For Kids to Play, for Picnickers to Picnic

The Buzz about Biodiversity

MIT Scope, December 2022

Jacob’s ladder, lacy phacelia, and wild bergamot were about to burst into blue, lavender, and pink and be swarmed by bees when a research group covered them with wedding favor bags. After the flowers opened, they removed the bags and waited. It did not take long for a bee to land.

MIT Scope, November 2022

Melissa Prusinski grew up in the Hudson Valley before ticks crowded the region. She spent most of her time playing in the woods. If those woods had as many ticks as they do today, she says, “I definitely would have had Lyme disease.”

An Oasis in Motion

MIT Scope, November 2022

Swirling bodies of water, 10 to 100 kilometers wide and full of life, travel around an otherwise barren region spanning most of the North Pacific Ocean. Fishermen too travel around this region. And in their search for tuna, billfish, and sharks, they often find themselves in these same bodies of water.

Lost Seasons and New Beginnings

The Grinnell Magazine, March 2022

In the spring of 2020, the Charles Benson Bear ’39 Recreation and Athletic Center was silent. There were no clangs of weights hitting the fitness center floor, no music booming from the locker rooms, and no thud of footsteps on the track. The College had canceled spring seasons because of the pandemic. The NCAA and Midwest Conference took their own protective measures. Eventually, fall 2020 seasons were canceled as well. Some athletes were able to return for spring 2021 seasons, but those were by no means typical seasons. “It just kept getting pushed back and back,” remembers Danny Carter ’21 (football).

Finding the Message Essential to Neuron-Muscle Signal Transmission

Grinnell College, July 2021

Clark Lindgren, professor of neuroscience, studied physics as an undergraduate at Wheaton College. One day he picked up his girlfriend’s physiology textbook. “I was just captivated by it. It was the coolest thing,” he remembers. He realized that physiology is fundamentally applying physical theories to biological problems. With his understanding of physical theories, he says, “I could remember really distinctly reading something and then knowing what was going to be on the next page.”

Students Experience Iowa’s Subtle Beauty

Grinnell College, June 2021

Far from tall mountains, deep oceans, and dense forests, the environment Grinnell College is in isn’t often regarded as obviously beautiful. As such, many students come to the College for other reasons — the liberal arts academics, the mentored research, the focus on purpose, responsibility, and justice, the diverse perspectives. Rachel Snodgrass ’21, Francesca Dalla Betta ’22, and Crys Moosman ’21 are all such students. For Dalla Betta, the location was a “non-factor.” Moosman, who is from the Tetons of Idaho and identifies as “entirely a mountain person,” could not see themself liking a college far from mountains.

Grass-Fungal Symbiotic Relationships in the Namib Sand Sea

Grinnell College, June 2021

On many early mornings in Namibia’s dry Namib Sand Sea, the air is quiet, cool, and smells of water. Grinnell College Biology Professor Kathy Jacobson says that from atop a sand dune: “You can look down on the sea of fog and see the other tops of the dunes sticking out… It’s this really mystical experience.” Then, the sun rises, and “you get this wonderful visual sensation as the sunlight burns off the fog, warming and brightening the surroundings.”

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