Helen Brush ’24

Major

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Project Title

Seasonality of Plant Interactions in a Changing Arctic

Presentation Link

View Helen's Presentation

Certificate(s): Applied and Computational Mathematics

I worked at Toolik Field Station in the Alaskan arctic to investigate how tundra plants use the growing season. This project is important both as a tool for better understanding plant ecology and in the context of the rapidly changing arctic climate. As growing seasons change, tundra plants may change how they use available time, potentially changing community interactions and composition, and this may in turn have important implications for global carbon cycling. I made frequent phenological measurements (i.e., measurements of different stages of a plant’s lifecycle) of 180 individually tagged plants from six common species. These data create a picture of when different plant species are active. I helped with preliminary data processing and used longer term datasets to explore weather patterns at Toolik. A better understanding of the seasonality of tundra plants will require integrating weather and ecological data. In addition to the work, I thoroughly enjoyed walking through the tundra with other members of the Toolik community and speculating about ecological and biological questions. I plan to carry the curiosity that I exercised this summer into the rest of my education and work, and I hope to pursue further research through both fieldwork and theoretical modeling projects. I am grateful to have had the privilege to spend my summer in awe inspiring wilderness with wonderful people.



Internship Year

2022

Project Category

Biodiversity and Conservation

Organization(s)

Levine Lab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University - Toolik Field Station, Fairbanks, Alaska

Mentor(s)

Jonathan Levine, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Ruby An, Ph.D. candidate, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology