Iris Zhou, 2013, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

The goal of my project was to determine whether a model developed by my adviser accurately predicts the growth dynamics of savanna versus forest trees in regions of intermediate rainfall. My main task this summer was to do a thorough literature review of all long-term studies that measured growth over time of individual savanna and forest trees. I contributed to this project by finding and cataloging all studies that met our criteria and by pulling out growth data from these papers. The data that I collected will be used for a meta-analysis to parametrize my adviser’s model and to see whether it works. From this internship experience, I learned a lot about the rigors of doing research. In particular, I now have a profound respect for all types of scientific publication. Having done data entry myself, I now appreciate how much effort goes into producing the simplest graph or diagram. In addition, I learned a lot about savanna fires and the differences between savanna and forest trees. While this internship did not change my career plans since I had already declared my major and general career direction, it definitely provided me with important insights into academic work.