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You can call me “M”

Hello everyone! My name is Mimi Jenkins and I’m an REU student with Chicago Botanic Gardens. I am from Pittsburgh, PA where I am a senior (one more semester!) at the University of Pittsburgh double majoring in Environmental studies and French lang/lit and a certificate in Global studies. This is my first real experience spending more than one day in the Midwest and I love it so far. The wetlands and prairies out here are gorgeous and I feel very lucky to be experiencing a new and exciting place and working with such an interesting group of people on such a worthwhile and fascinating project. I have never been on such a flat land or in such a small town, but the flat topography makes for nice biking (hoping I can get my hands on a bike soon!) and the small town is a nice break from the city for the summer. I arrived in Chicago two weeks ago and after an introductory week for the REU program doing lab work on soil samples and such (not my cup o’ tea), I met Stuart, took pictures with the help of Jake Friedman of some of the Echinacea pollinators and visitors that are pinned and in boxes at CBG, and did a little research on the nesting habits of bees.

Here is the protocol we came up with for the picture-taking:Protocol for Taking Pictures of Insect Specimens.docx

Here is some of the info I found on nesting of bees commonly found on Echinacea:
Echinacea Pollinators nesting.docx

I am really excited about this field season and I wish I could stay longer! I am really interested in improving my plant and bee identification skills on the prairie, as well as my knowledge of statistics in analyzing data and applied ecology in general. I also hope that this experience will help me to hone in on what I want to focus on for graduate schools in a year or two. I am currently trying to think about what exactly I would like to focus on because everything sounds so cool but I am limited to less than 6 weeks of research so it must be a pretty precise question, such as: does one family or species of bee act as a more effective pollinator for Echinacea than others using the style persistence method, or what co-flowering species are the pollinators pollinating that also land on Echinacea by observing pollinators on other plants or looking at foreign pollen on Echinacea heads. I would like to work in the common garden and in remnant populations to get a good sense of how these questions might differ depending on the community diversity of the remnant and the health of the Echinacea population.
I went out wandering yesterday and I think some of the locals thought I was a crazy person for walking on the side of the road but until I can bike, I will explore by foot. I turned onto the first dirt road on the right off of Kensington Ave and found this pretty hillside prairie remnant at the end of the road. I wanted to go further, but the electric fence kept me from continuing. I saw a patch of something yellow flowering off in the distance. Along the path of the dirt road between two corn fields I saw what I think was brome grass, prairie rose, common milkweed, alfalfa and clover, and some others like thistles that I couldn’t identify. I saw a big white bird that Stuart told me today was an American egret. I also saw some more of those cool turquoise dragonflies that are in the common garden. I regret not bringing my camera with me because the view at the end of the dirt road was so pretty–there were relatively few trees and you could gently rolling green hills for miles.

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