Mad Snail Disease Runs Rampant

Hello readers,

Today’s flog will address a serious illness taking over the occupants of Town Hall. Mad Snail Disease (MSD) has been introduced to members of the Echinacea Project through direct contact with Avery Pearson, who carried the disease to Minnesota from her home in Ohio.

Those infected by the debilitating disease appear to be unable to make rational decisions and have been seen getting up to all kinds of shenanigans.

We hope for the speedy recovery of these individuals who have been infected. Sadly, there is no treatment for Mad Snail Disease; prevention is the only cure. If you are experiencing MSD-like symptoms, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor.

This has been a public health report by Ren Johnson.

An Orchid Adventure

Hi flog!

Team Echinacea had an exciting weekend when Stuart, Riley, Julie, Amy, Avery, Miyauna, Jay, Erin, and I joined Gretel, who works at the Chicago Botanic Gardens, to monitor orchids at the wet prairie near Fertile, MN. We had a great time working with some new plants and learning about an ecosystem different from the ones we typically work with.

It was a long day, but we cultivated a lot of grit and were glad to help Gretel. We’re grateful that she gave us this opportunity and we’d be happy to help again!

Until next time flog!


An Exciting Thursday

Hi flog!

We had a really fun day at Echinacea East, full of new and exciting developments.

We’ve starting fertilizing our seedlings and they’re growing like crazy! They’re starting to develop their true leaves, which means we’ll be able to extract their DNA soon.

Avery has been working hard as our Scoring Extraordinaire. We’re super lucky to have her!

Miyauna is having fun chilling with her favorite plant: Waluigi the Welwitschia. She’s been working hard on PCRs while also interrogating the rest of us about our views on the “Self” (she was originally a psychology major).

It was a bittersweet day, though, when Mia left after lunch to drive all the way back home to Buffalo, New York for her sister’s graduation. On Saturday, she’s going to be flying to Arizona to complete her own research and we won’t be seeing her again for a few weeks. Have fun, Mia! We’ll miss you!

Overall, it was an exciting (and thought-provoking) day at Echinacea East!

Until next time,


Seeing Results at Echinacea East

Hi everyone!

It’s been a fun and productive week at the College of Wooster and we’re already starting to see the products of our hard work!

Avery, Mia, and Miyauna spent the day continuing DNA extractions, this time using fresh samples in an attempt to determine if there is a difference between extracting DNA from fresh or dried leaves.

Jennifer, Avery, and I continued planting seeds and hoping they’ll grow big and tall!

At the end of the day, we had a pleasant surprise when we successfully extracted DNA from the fresh leaf samples with much more ease than the dried samples!

Not only did we find some amazing results with the DNA extraction, but our seeds are starting to sprout their first leaves! You go little guys!

After such an amazing week, I can’t wait to see what the next one holds!

Until next week,


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!