Lilium Project Update

         The lilium project is almost wrapping up as I am approaching the end of my semester long internship. I am almost finished with processing my seed data. All the scans and x-rays of lilium ovules have been done. The only steps left are to finish counting and classifying the ovules. Counting is done to quantify the total number of ovules in the each lilium pod. Classifying is using the x-ray image to determine the number of fertilized ovules in each pod. Once I have the data for the total and full counts of each lilium pod, I will be able to obtain the seed set for each individual lilium philadelphicum. Then, I will analyze the relationship between variation in seed set and proximity in nearest neighboring plants. Jared showed me the FNN package in R which, like its name, will find the nearest neighbor between x and y coordinates. The knn.dist function is a handy tool that allows you to compare distances of a point and its nth neighbors. In order to further analyze the data, my first step is to conduct data management and organize the different variables into a data frame. This process is very useful for researchers that use R for data analysis and data visualization. Next week, I will have a data frame that includes the information necessary for the analysis and visualization of the lilium data. 

Week 7: X-ray Time

This week I continued to make progress on cleaning and scanning for the lilium project (Figure 2). All the pods have been cleaned and we have established a scanning protocol for lilium pods. These protocols allow for others to replicate our methods in future projects with lilies.

Jared and I conducted a couple trials with x-raying the lilium seeds. We will experiment with adjusting the settings on the x-ray and after effects for the images. Further experimentation is necessary to generate high quality x-ray scans in order to classify the seeds. In the x-ray images, the seeds that contain fertilized embryos will appear bright white (Figure 1). We use this to classify which seeds contain fertilized embryos and which ones are empty. The contrast of appearance in the x-ray is due to the increase in density of the fertilized embryos.

Jul 6 Orchid Trip Adventure Recap

It was a dark and stormy night. Well, really it was morning, but the dark and stormy part is true. Regardless, the inclement weather during Tuesday’s early hours wasn’t enough to keep Team Echinacea from taking a road trip to monitor orchid populations in Fertile, MN.

Eight of us, about half the team, left the field house around 7am and drove north for two and a half hours. We stopped only for the necessities, namely the bathroom and donuts. The rain forced us to wait in our vehicles when we arrived at our site, and we were finally able to get to work around 10:30.

The first location we visited required a short hike to access. Though it’s acres upon acres in size, you’d never find it if you didn’t know where to look, which is why we were fortunate we were joined by Gretel Kiefer, who has worked with these orchids and the Nature Conservancy for over decades. A long-time member of Team Echinacea, Gretel is spending most of her summer at the Chicago Botanic Garden, but was able to join us this week for the trip.

The work itself consisted of moving in groups of four searching 10m by 10m plots for orchid plants. Whenever we found one, we would gather some data on its flowers, give it a numbered flag and use a GPS to mark its exact location. The plots themselves were sometimes a bit difficult to keep track of because many of the markers were fallen over or missing; I can only imagine how difficult it may have beef if there was standing water. Fortunately for us—but perhaps not the plants—this year is a dry one.

After finishing up at the first location, we ate lunch before traveling to the second and final location for the day. Because it would have been a long walk carrying all of our equipment, to get there we all piled in to Stuart’s pickup truck and drove down what I would hesitate to call a road, though we did all make it in one piece.

Our task for the second location was the same as before, but took much longer due to its larger size. By the time we were finishing up, the sun had come up after hiding behind the clouds all day. We were fortunate that it had been cloudy for most of the day; not only does cloud cover provide some relief from the heat, but, somewhat counter-intuitively, direct sunlight also makes it more difficult to spot individual plants. Once we wrapped up our work around 7pm, we headed south, stopping at a pizza place in Ada on the way back for dinner.

Despite the rain in the early hours, the consensus was that the orchid trip was successful, and indisputably a blast.

Some bonus photos:


Diary of a seedling

Dear diary,

            Today the loud lumbering noises came back, it has been a while since they last visited but the day lengths seem similar to last time. The noises got louder when they found me, I guess that means that they were excited to see me again. I wonder if they know that I look forward to their visit every year.

            This has been a big year for me I worked really hard and I grew two whole leaves! The longest one is all of seven whole centimeters! My parent plant would be so proud of me! Speaking of the good old ‘rent, I haven’t heard from them in a while. I miss them but I am excited to strike out on my own, I hope that I can flower some day and make them proud.

Anyway, today was a good day since the loud lumbering noises came for their visit and I look forward for when they come and visit again. But for now, I have to go back to getting ready for the cold. I am keeping busy making sure all of my sugars are packed away and ready for midnight snacking.



The Tart Plum Plum Tart is ready for Mary Berry’s approval

Today Emma and I did some sling in the morning when we visited this seeding M. Lea did her last field work of the year this morning! During lunch Drake brought his Tart Plum Plum Tart, to share! It was very good, and we all appreciated the time that picking all of the plums took. In the afternoon Emma and I set off to do some of the little demo left. I got some practice at operating Darwin. Operating Darwin is a bit trickery than I was expecting but with a good teacher like Emma I picked it up fairly quickly.

Me attempting to get the GPS in the exact right spot….

Until next time!

Bur bye,



Hey flog its ya girl Mia!

Today Amy D. came up from the cites to help kick off sling refinds!

I had never done sling before, but I thought it was pretty cool. It’s kind of like if measuring and demo had a kid, because you have to measure all of the seedlings but also still find nearest neighbor. We were able to finish three sites today, East elk lake road, KJ’s, and south of golf course!

Amy D. and I on the hunt for seedlings!

This afternoon we worked on some p1 harvest as a team and Emma went off to work on her independent project.

It was a hot one out here today but we all made it out alive and are ready to get some more stuff done tomorrow!

Emma posing with Chucky D


New foo who dis?

Ohhh heyyyyyyy its your friendly Team Echinacea yearlong intern who found her hair brush under her bed after it being lost for at least three weeks, Mia Stevens.

Oh boy do we have some updates for the flog!

Yesterday was a tumultuous weather day out here in Dougy county. Approximately at 4:30 am the thunder and rain began, this was some serious not messing around rain. I couldn’t sleep through it. Then at 6 there was the loudest thunder crack you have ever heard in your life. All of Andes crew jumped 6” in the air in shock. Then as we moseyed out of bed, we realized that not quite all of the lights were turning on. As we slightly began to panic about breakfast, the refrigerator, morning cups of tea, etc. Lea came to the rescue and checked the circuit breaker and fixed it all! Yay real adults! However, the one thing that did not turn back on and still hasn’t is the Wifi 🙁

We set off to Hjelm for a morning Zoom to learn about this awesome new mapping function made by Jared. The rain was still coming, enough to make even me drive the speed limit on 27. We were able to sneak in some remnant phenology, p1 phenology, demo, and even some p1 rechecks before lunch.

At lunch we enjoyed a wonderful vegan chocolate cake made by Jean, Penny, and Tulula to celebrate Jared’s week with the team. Then, the clouds came back with strong gusts of winds. We decided to call it quits on field work after lunch, and head over to Hoff house to empty it out.

Allie and I were working on some coding while double fisting halo pops when Stuart sent out a group me warning the group about the ongoing tornado warning! As two non-Midwesterners tornados are a fairly unknown phenomena, us New Yorkers know snow but that’s all about it natural disaster wise. Nothing too crazy happened in Hoffman, just some hard rain and wind. However, Lea reports it was raining sideways at Andes! But once we heard that John/Bonnie and Clyde are on tornado watch duty we instantly felt much safer. However, the lack of spotting the tornado in Evansville has made their further employment as tornado spotters come into question by some authorities, but not this one, we love you Clyde!

Clyde keeping watch!

After a recreating a scene from the Wizard of Oz we returned to Andes with a lifetime supply of halo pops. We went to bed with dreams of working Wi-Fi in the morning.

Our dreams were disappointed. We have spent the day finding ways to occupy ourselves without Wi-fi. Activities include but are not limited to: eating, drawing, cleaning your room, napping, becoming a dog groomer, reading, cleaning out your downloads folder, sunbathing, thinking about studying for the GRE, field work, and more eating.

Hopefully soon the Wifi can return and then I can choose to avoid answering emails instead of it being chosen for me.

Until next time flog, keep it crispy!


Arson 101

Hi flog!

Monday was the start of a new week. We traded Anna M. for Anna A. and hit the ground running.

The returned Anna A. – without braces!

Anna and I started the day off herding aphids in p1. Sadly, the number of aphids is slowly declining, after never really going up in the first place.

At lunch we all got to chat with Jared Beck, visiting possible post-doc. We talked about setting things on fire, like prairie preserves and experimental plots, and statistics. Jared will be here for the whole week, scoping The Echinacea Project out and looking at possible experimental sites.

After lunch, Emma, Anna, Mia, and I headed up to p2 to try and finish the last of the measuring. We made it all the way to row 73, meaning we have 7 more rows left. If John had been around we probably would have finished measuring (we miss you John!).

Measuring p2 on a nice day

Moving out/Moving in

Hey flog!

Amy headed back to the Twin Cities on Friday, which left me alone at the Hoff House. Since I don’t feel risking my life everyday biking to work on 27, I moved into the Andes Tower Hills condo Friday evening.

It has new topography (a hill) and new wildlife (Lea’s dogs). Given the general lack of dogs and elevation gain in the past 1.5 months, this is much more similar to my living condition at home (upstate NY).

I’m looking forward to fun new adventures with the Andes crew!

Andes Tower Hills – elevation of 1620 ft (290 ft rise)!
Bellamy (left) and Huxley (right)

The end of an era

On Friday The Echinacea Project saw the end of an era. Long-time team member Riley Thoen had his last day working for the project after 3 summers spent in the field.

We started off the morning with phenology in the remnants, with the added goal of looking for purple prairie clover at each of our sites.

Purple prairie clover, or Dalea purpurea, at Loeffler’s Corner

During lunch break, we celebrated Riley’s time here with some cake and an eyepatch.

Riley, featuring his cake (eye patch not pictured)

After lunch, we finished measuring all of the inbreeding 2 experiment plants and had an early end to the day. We spent some time eating ice cream bars provided by John and then headed to Elk Lake with some canoes for end-of-work-week and end-of-Riley-working-here activities.

Best wishes to Riley as he heads off to grad school!

Emma, Erin, and I enjoying some time in one of the canoes
The other canoe crew, with Riley, Anna M. and Mia

Submitting FNC, phenology, crosses, and aphids

Today I only heard about what the team was up to from Mia after her epic day that started at 7:15 and ended around 6:30. Sounds like a lot happened in the field today! I heard about phenology, and how their were a few critical visor malfunctions, although it seems we were still able to get the data we need!

I also heard that people started adding and excluding aphids from Echinacea plants in p1, and that some hand crosses happened with hybrid Echinacea in p7!

All in all it seemed like a good day for the team. Back home at Alpha Tango Hotel, I worked on getting the FNC manuscript ready to resubmit. Over the weekend many Team Echinacea members current and past read the draft and gave me valuable feedback. Today I polished everything up and clicked “Submit”! The study examines how heterospecific co-flowering plants and isolation from conspecific mates affects pollination. Specifically, we quantify how these aspects of the floral neighborhood influence four stages of the pollination process: 1) probability of pollinator visitation, 2) pollen on pollinators that visit Echinacea, 3) pollen on Echinacea styles, and 4) style persistence (pollination success). We are excited to submit this manuscript and are hoping for favorable reviews this second time around!