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June 19, 2015 Week 3 Newsletter

RECCS is a summer research internship in critical zone science for Colorado community college students funded by the National Science Foundation and coordinated by CIRES Education Outreach.
For the most recent RECCS happenings, check out our blog

RECCS Intern Spotlight!

This week our featured RECCS interns are Marianne Blackburn and Caihong VanderBurgh. Marianne is teamed up with mentor Jenny Briggs of the USGS. Caihong is teamed up with mentors Noah Fierer and grad student Tess Brewer of CIRES/CU Boulder. Photo: Caihong and Tess analyzing soil microbe images from the fluorescence microscope.
Marianne Blackburn
Watch Marianne's "elevator speech"!
Marianne has been a student of Community College of Denver and will be transferring to the University of Colorado Denver in the fall to study biology. She grew up in North Carolina but has lived in Denver, Colorado for the last three years. She has recently started exploring more of Colorado and looks forward to many more hikes and wildlife sightings.

Her research this summer is with Jenny Briggs of USGS.  They will be focusing on how surface fuels have changed in ponderosa pine forests along the Colorado Front Range where there has been significant infestation of the mountain pine beetle.
Marianne preparing a quadrant to survey pine trees at Golden Gate Canyon State Park to monitor the impacts of mountain pine beetle infestations on forest ecosystems.
Marianne (right) and Fleur Ferro, her Biology instructor from Community College of Denver, share a laugh after doing a ponderosa pine "scratch & sniff" test.
Caihong VanderBurgh
Watch Caihong's "elevator speech"!
Caihong moved to the United States three and half years ago from China. She is currently living in Westminster, Colorado. Caihong loves to go hiking and biking with her dogs in the mountains. This spring, she earned her Associate of Science degree from Front Range Community College Westminster. She will be attending Metro State University this fall and plans to major in biology, which she loves.

Caihong’s RECCS mentors are Noah Fierer and his grad student Tess Brewer. Her project is focused on investigating the bacterial phylum Verrucomicrobia. As little is known about this group of organisms, she is designing an experiment to determine whether these organisms are methylotrophs or not.
Caihong and her mentor Noah doing the hard work to gather soil samples in Gordon Gulch, for the purpose of collecting verrucomicrobia.
Caihong is plating some soil bacteria in the PCR work station in Fierer’s lab, she is testing a method of separating live bacteria from the soil.

Intern Tips

  • Take LOTS of pictures during your internship to document your experiences over the summer
  • Max. photo size for the newsletter & blog is 1 MB
  • Blog at least once a week to share your story!

Intern Deadlines

  • June 23: Introduction/Motivation draft emailed to Bec for feedback
  • June 26: Introduction/Motivation emailed to mentor

Communication Update


In this week's scientific communication workshop we talked about writing the introduction, including the general format of starting with the bigger picture and focusing to your specific research question. We also talked about reading journal articles, plagiarism, and how and when to cite. Finally, we talked about some of the resources available for finding and keeping track of scientific literature, including web of science, google scholar and free citation management software such as Mendeley or Zotero. This week's homework will be the introduction/motivation, and we had time to get started on that in class, with plenty of individual discussions relevant to particular projects. 

Mentor Tips

  • Ask your intern to describe new activities in their own words, before they start them. Sometimes interns and mentors have different interpretations of the same conversation, so asking them to articulate what they will do when they get back to the office can help avoid them going off in a different direction.
  • Help your intern stay focused on a piece of research that is doable. It is tempting to aim big, but the summer is very short. Check in often.
  • This part of the summer is a time when many projects involve the less glamorous side of research - debugging, trying to handle large data sets, etc. It may be useful to talk about strategies to deal with the sometimes tedious work that precedes insight.
  • Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help!
CZO Program
CZO Program
Copyright © 2015 CIRES Education Outreach, All rights reserved.

RECCS is funded by National Science Foundation Grant Award Number 1461281

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