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The start of a new internship

Hello fellow floggers!

Danielle cleaning a head for achenes

My name is Danielle. I’m excited to announce that I’m the new research intern at The Chicago Botanic Garden and I come from Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, IL. I’m currently a junior majoring in Biology and minoring in Environmental Science. My focus is Botany which brings me to my next point… interning here is nothing short of a dream come true! My work begins with taking part on the Echinacea project. 

This week I was shown around the plant science building, where I will be spending the duration of my internship. I was tasked with cleaning and collecting achenes from the dried up heads of Echinacea angustifolia. The achenes are tiny seeds, also known as fruit, that are attached to the florets, which are the tiny flowers that make up the composite head of the Echinacea plant. After collecting the achenes by wedging them out with tweezers, they were placed inside a labeled envelope for further examination. The purpose of this step is to accumulate all the achenes so they can be counted as well as to formulate a random sample which can then be x-rayed to determine Echinacea fitness with regard to their pollinators. We want to understand the basis of successful reproduction via pollination for each Echinacea plant. The heads were harvested in 2016 from one of the experimental plots. By measuring the fitness of the Echinacea head we can get a better idea of how well pollinated they are.   

My first week has been nothing short of wonderful. Each day that I have walked into the plant conservation science building I have felt immense joy for what I am taking part in. I trust that this feeling will not steer me wrong as I zone in on my true career goals. Stay tuned, as I’ll be making weekly posts throughout these next three months! 🙂

visible achenes on an Echinacea head

separating achenes from the chaff

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