Seedlings, ready to plant!

Hello flog!

If you’ve been reading carefully, you’ll remember that we planted some seedlings here (at Echinacea Team “West” I guess) about a month and a half ago. Now, those seedlings are growing some big ol’ true leaves, and are almost ready to go in the ground!

Happy, watered seedlings!

We have ~1400 seedlings to plant in Minnesota, and more will be coming for College of Wooster. I’m currently working on putting together the master plan for putting these all in the ground. Watch out for a flog about that, because its going to be one busy, dirty day digging in the prairie


A productive Thursday at Echinacea East

Hello flog friends!

We are busy here in our Ohio lab working hard, getting stuff done, and having a great time doing it!

Bright and early in our morning, I accompanied Seed Master Ren to visit our little seeds after they’re first summer night in the growth chamber.

Avery, the President of PCR, and Mia, clumsy R ninja, continued running PCRs and getting all of that DNA information.

I even got to head down with Mia to the nanodrop (which was the coolest thing ever). The nanodrop definitely gave us some very interesting results.

We then all came together with Jennifer/Dr.Ison for a very fun and informative lunch gathering.

Ren would then go to check on the seeds and plant the ones that were ready to go! Now that some are planted, we are preparing to baby them as much as possible to get them through the rough first couple of weeks.

After all of this hard work, we even had some time for a lab coat selfie!

We shall see what amazing adventures the next day holds!

Have a great day flog!



John Van Kempen

Hello Everyone: I just finished my 30th year of teaching/coaching and am looking forward to being outside during the summer months. I am currently getting ready to lead 14 students to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wildermess(BWCAW) for one week before i begin with the Echin Project. In my spare time i enjoy taking my two dogs (Lilly and Clyde) out for walks/runs, and spending time with my 4 children, ages 17- 22. I am interested in learning more about our local ecosystems in West central MN and learning about prairie plants.

Further Updates from Team Echinacea’s Ohio Team

Hello flog!

It’s been another busy day for Team Echinacea at the College of Wooster.

Seed Master Ren started the day off by making an excursion to the garden store to hunt down some soil that will be used to plant the seeds once they have germinated and formed a radical. Then, she showed off her muscles, mixing the soil with sand and some water. Additionally, the plant growth chamber for our first group of seeds was switched over into summer mode, so we will hopefully we will see some baby plants soon!

Seedmaster Ren wrangles some dirt

Extraction extraordinaire Miyauna cranked out another grueling set of DNA extractions from some of the parental plants. Luckily though, this should be our last set of extractions at least for several weeks while we wait for our seeds to germinate and grow big enough so we can take a leaf sample.

Miyauna, getting into the extraction zone.

Our resident R expert/clumsy ninja Mia and I teamed up to begin PCR reactions with the DNA extracted on Tuesday and a batch that was extracted back in November. Each DNA sample needs to undergo 10 different PCR reactions (for the 10 different microsatellite markers being used), and after a bit of a slow start familiarizing ourselves with the methods, we ended up breezing through three PCR reactions. We also ran some gels and a nanodrop on the DNA samples to double check and make sure that DNA was successfully extracted for all of the samples.

We love PCR and gel electrophoresis!!!

After all this hard work, Team Echinacea Ohio called it a day in the lab. However, our team members still had one more important task – the noble quest for ice cream. Braving a torrential downpour, we set off for a local ice cream parlor/shop, where we enjoyed the sweet rewards of a hard day’s work.

Lab mates that eat ice cream together stay together

So long for now!


Miyauna Incarnato

Echinacea Project 2019

Biology, The College of Wooster 2021

Research Interests: 

I am super fascinated with how life on this beautiful planet interacts and how truly interconnected everything is.  I am particularly interested in how these interactions, and the lose of certain interactions, affect the reproductive and developmental biology of organisms. What affects fertility, stem cells, organogenesis, the effects of fragmentation, ART, and more! Genetics and the process of life happening is so awesome, that I hope to study it in graduate school !


I was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. Along with being a biology major, I am also a Chinese minor and Education Licensure candidate at the College of Wooster. I love baking, hunting for great antique shops, trying fun food, and watching movies! I also enjoy hanging with my family, including my dogs, and exploring our urban parks. You can always find me singing, telling a story, or saying how cool science is.


Erin Eichenberger

Echinacea Project 2019

Majors in Biology & Environmental Science

The College of William & Mary, Class of 2019

Research Interests

Broadly I am interested in community ecology and population genetics for conservation. At my undergraduate institution I studied Asclepias syriaca, or common milkweed, another grassland plant. Through this work I learned about the genetic and phenotypic variation of plants within fine-scale habitats as well as the transmission of herbivory defense signals. This inspired my most recent interests in pollination ecology and nectar defense. I’m excited to investigate similar avenues within a new ecosystem and study species, as well as learn more about statistical analysis by working with the Echinacea Project’s long-term dataset!


I’m from Raleigh, NC and attended college in Williamsburg, VA, and am only a little terrified of the weather I’ll encounter in Minnesota and Chicago! As a birder I’ve spent my fair share of time chasing feathered things in blistering heat and freezing cold, and I’m eager to start learning new Midwestern birds. In addition to peering through binoculars and thumbing through field guides I love to draw, listen to podcasts and share trivia I learn while in the depths of a Wikipedia rabbit hole. I particularly enjoy observing the natural world while hiking and canoeing.

Asclepias is dead, long live Echinacea! 

Meet Team Echinacea East:

Hello flog long time no see!

Team Echinacea East working out of America’s premier college for mentored undergraduate research (lol) had a busy day! This summer we will be performing paternity tests on the seeds made during the big events from last summer. Today we did a set of DNA extractions on leaf tissue that was grown in the spring. This is a very long process and was a fairly novel process for all involved but everyone did a great job! Especially our Extraction Extraordinaire: Miyauna who led us fearlessly through the treacherous and tedious process.

The Extraction Extraordinaire hard at work.

While the samples were in the water bath Dr. Ison/Jennifer gave a very interesting presentation giving background on previous work done by members of team echinacea. For lunch we stole some extra boxed lunches from a high school camp going on in the building (they were very good). These stolen lunches gave us the fuel necessary to finish the days work.

Miyauna and Ren working on seed germination

Seed Master Ren finished putting all of the seeds in cold stratification. We have the seeds in the cold so they think its winter, then we take them out of the cold.

The seeds chillin’ mid “winter”

When all this was going on I (R clumsy ninja) was working in R analyzing genotyping data from a different project.

Tomorrow we will start running PCRs on the DNA samples we extracted today, under guidance of Avery the President of PCR.

Until next time,



Michael LaScaleia

Echinacea Project 2019

Biology and Environmental Studies, Tufts 2018

Starting a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UConn in August 2019

Research Interests

My research interests are, like most researchers at this stage, all over the place, but in general I love anything that has to do with plants, insects, and landscapes. I’m a big fan of studying communities: not just one plant or insects, but all the plants or insects that are in a certain space. I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t have research interests that also go into soil, leaf chemistry, birds, mammals, and hydrology. I guess I just like nature?


Hello again flog! I know I write here about 1-2 times a week, but I thought it necessary that I should write a new intro for a new summer field season. I’m wrapping up my year here as the Echinacea Project’s intern at the Botanic Garden with a return to the summer field crew. I’m very excited to get out and work with the plants again! In my spare time, I like to hike, run, read fantasy, and play video games (hey Riley, wanna Pokemon battle?)

It’s -5 F in this picture


Jay Fordham

Echinacea Project 2019

Biology Major, Gustavus Adolphus College ’20

Research Interests

The the recent 2018 Nobel conference at Gustavus has gotten me interested in soil ecology. I want to know what goes on in post-agricultural and fractured prairie ecosystems and what the implications are for species richness and productivity underground.

Personal Interests

I am a Biology major minoring in Statistics and English from Waseca, MN. In my free time I like foraging for mushrooms, gardening, and anything that gets me outside. I also like making mixed media art, video games, and trying to learn Swedish.

Ren Johnson

Echinacea Project 2019

Biology Major, College of Wooster 2022

Research Interests

I hope to learn more about the interactions between echinacea and their pollinators, growth mechanisms that plants employ, and the environmental impact of fragmentation on flowering plant species as well as their pollinators. I aspire to obtain a PhD in botany and continue to research the environmental and molecular functions of plants.


I am from Medina, Ohio and enjoy gardening, running, biking, cooking, and reading. I also love to spend time in nature and am looking forward to working with echinacea and the rest of the research team!