Wow! Time flies! July and August were a whirlwind. I finished up my summer lab work – DNA analysis on tree roots in Yucatán caves and soil water extractions to investigate the impacts of soil properties and extraction method on soil water. At the beginning of August, I presented my work at the Ecological Society of America meeting in New Orleans. I enjoyed listening to numerous talks and speaking with fellow graduate students and researchers from across the country. I was also able to catch up with friends from IsoCamp (a stable isotope summer course I attended in 2017) as well as one of my favorite professors from USC (that was a surprise!) and my best friend from high school. Overall, it was a great experience!
I began the fall semester by welcoming 20 new graduate students to our department, three of which are joining my lab. We also have a visiting student from Brazil who will be working with my advisor. While I am not used to having a full office, the change has been nice. As the seminar chair for our department, I have been organizing researchers to visit A&M and speak to our faculty and students about current topics in ecosystem science and management. I just released the schedule to the department and I am excited about the line up. On top of this, I am teaching Fundamentals of Ecology for the 4th time and acting as lead TA. This will be a busy semester but I am up for the challenge.
In the lab, I am currently extracting stem water from trees above the caves in which I collected roots. I will compare the isotopic composition of the stem water to potential water sources to determine where the trees are accessing water from (soil, bedrock, pools in caves, groundwater). I am curious to see if there are species/species groups that occupy different hydrological niches within the karst landscape of the Yucatán Peninsula. This data, along with my biodiversity data, will be included in the talk that I will give at the American Geophysical Union in Washington D.C. in December.
Even though December seems far away now, it will be here before we know it. Lots of work to do!