Final Flog – Eli Arbogast

Three weeks have gone by fast! It’s pretty incredible how much we were able to fit into such a short time span. 

Our first week was spent getting introduced to the center and the work happening here. We met lots of people as well as lots of lab equipment! We learned how data collection happens for the study of Echinacea, by completing a large set of Echinacea achene counting using new study protocols. This study will hopefully yield interesting insights into how Echinacea plants develop and utilize resources. We also learned how XRays are used and processed (RIP to the XRay machine, gone but not forgot), and spent some time helping organize Echiachea heads for later use. 

Our second week, we continued the organization and processing of Echinacea data but also began to develop our own research inquires, based on our own personal interests and the data we had to work with. We all chose very different focuses, mine being a focus on long-term analysis of pollinator diversity and abundance measures, or “How are bee populations changing over time in the Echinacea fields?”

Bee samples that provided me with data for my work

Our third week, we focused in on our projects. Locating and processing my pollinator data took a good deal of time, so I spent a good chunk of the week processing this data as well as learning R, a widely applicable skill for someone interested in science. While I still have a lot of questions and things I’d like to explore further, I am very happy with what I was able to accomplish given the time constraints. Please see my attached presentation below for more detail and major takeaways! 

I would like to give a huge thank you to Stuart, Erin, and Riley, who made this entire experience possible. They helped us pretty much every step of the way, whether it was practicing our ‘ABTs’s, scanning seeds, or learning R from the ground up. I am very happy to have had such a productive and fulfilling winter break and look forward to more breaks, and more work like it. 

I have very much enjoyed my time here, and after 3 weeks of work am looking forward to the holidays with family, and sleeping in past 6am! 

Til next time Flog, 


Flannel Friday

Today was a very busy day at the Plant Science Center!

We started the day rechecking our echinacea heads, to make sure we had picked out and counted every achene. Soon after, we had a meeting with Leah, who presented her research paper outline on the comparative success of a number of prairie plants in relation to burnings. It was very interesting to think about the restorative nature that fire can play in these ecosystems, and we spent a lot of time discussing her methods of presenting data as well.

Leah discussing her paper outline

Next up, we heard from Fabiany about his work in conifer fossils, their evolutionary significance as well as how they connected to his home country of Columbia.

One of the plant fossils that Fabiany passed around to the audience

Before lunch, we went through training and began working on classifying achenes through X-ray scans. After lunch, we brainstormed ideas for our individual (or group) projects that we’ll be focusing on for the next two weeks. We all have a lot of different areas of interest, from the impact of inbreeding to limiting factors on plant growth to flowering based on climate change. In addition, we all plan to work on our data processing/analysis skills through learning “R” and more. We spent the rest of the day doing some background research on our project ideas and more discussion of the scope and general plan for our projects.

Overall, it’s been a productive day! We are excited to hit the ground running next week on our projects.

Flog out,


Carleton College Extern Eli Arbogast

Hi Flog,

My name is Eli Arbogast and I am a sophomore at Carleton College. I am a potential (more and more likely) Bio major and am very excited to be joining the Echinacea Project. I want to study biology with a focus on ecology, environmental systems, and plant science, so this externship is the perfect opportunity for me. Past research/environmental-focused internships have included rebuilding trails in the Rockies, measuring agricultural impacts on water quality in rural Costa Rica and working on outreach/fundraising for wild salmon in Alaska. I have a foundation for my environmental interests as a result of being raised on an organic blueberry farm and being a beekeeper (albeit very much a beginner).

Outside of the lab, I am a big music person (playing and listening), love hiking, climbing, and most outdoor activities. I am big into exercise, like to read confusing books, mess around with computers, and play video games when I can find the time.

I’m very excited and grateful to be working on this project this winter, and I look forward to learning a lot!