Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Let's BACE It

About once a year, a group of ecosystem scientists from Boston area colleges meet to share their current research. The meeting was held on Monday and was hosted by Jeff Dukes from UMass Boston. There was a group of over 20 people including faculty, post-docs, graduate students, and laboratory technicians. I've had limited time since starting at Lasell to think about research so it was great to have the opportunity to get together with this group and talk about ecosystem science.

Dr. Dukes decided to host the meeting at the site of his current research project called the Boston Area Climate Experiment (BACE). In this project, the Dukes Lab is setting up to study the impact of climate change on wildflowers, grasses, and trees. They are establishing a set of warming treatments along with a set of precipitation treatments to the vegetation. This is a really impressive research project and is going to make a big contribution to the field.

While Dr. Dukes has done all the challenging work of getting funding and establishing the study site, he is still excited to have others collaborate on the project. This is why he chose to have the meeting at the field site. It provided the opportunity to share the project and to get others thinking about it. I have to say that since seeing the project I haven't stopped thinking about how I could contribute. I think adding a component to study transpiration and vegetation water use would benefit the project. I hope I can carve out a niche and participate in this project. It is exciting stuff!

There is also an opportunity for Lasell College students to get involved with the project. At the study site, the Dukes Lab has installed an educational area. In this area they have a set of posters to share with visitors about climate change. They would like to expand the set of posters and their outreach but lack the time. I mentioned to Jeff that Lasell College may be able to help as I could see incorporating this as a connected learning activity.

I have to commend Jeff Dukes on the job he has done putting together this project. It certainly must not have been easy. Dr. Dukes is a really talented scientist (check out this paper)and we are lucky he chose Waltham to set up this study. I'll definitely plan to take students in my courses to visit the research site and I hope Lasell students can contribute to the effort.

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