The Poetic Side of Ecology

Art and science have a long history of entanglements from Leonardo da Vinci’s beautiful anatomical drawings to the revolutionary essays of Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold. After all, both practices are about understanding ourselves and our surroundings. In keeping with this tradition, the Western Aspen Alliance has launched a new feature called WAA Creates. The most recent newsletter (Volume 6(4), November 2015) features a poem by one of our own, Amy Flansburg.



Three minute thesis competition

hilary 3mt

Hilary Bultman and Amy Flansburg recently participated in a Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. This event was hosted by the Graduate Women in Science at UW-Madison (GWIS-Beta) and involved a university wide graduate student competition. The challenge was for students to communicate the big-picture ideas and motivation behind their research in three minutes or less.

We’re happy to announce that Hilary won 2nd place for her presentation on work linking aspen genes to insect communities found on this foundation tree species. Amy also gave a fantastic presentation on her research examining triploidy in aspen.

amy 3mt

UW science outreach

The Lindroth lab participated in Saturday Science at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. It was our first chance to teach our new “Elements of Food Webs” lesson.

We’ve developed educational materials and hands-on activities to teach students about concepts in Biology and Chemistry through the “Elements of Food Webs”. Lessons explore feeding relationships among species. Students learn about the transfer of energy and elements from the sun to plants, from plants to insect herbivores, and from insect herbivores to insect predators. 

To illustrate food webs to kids and their families, we brought in some live specimens of aspen trees, aphids, ladybugs, and ants. Aphids eat sap from aspen, which is rich in sugar, and ladybugs are predators of aphids. Luckily, some aphids have ant bodyguards for protection. Ants feed on “honeydew”, a sugary substance that aphids secrete. In turn, ants protect aphids from predators.

Here’s a photo highlight from the event that the kids took using our digital microscope!

Ladybug predation at Saturday Science Outreach Event!

Elements of Food Webs Booth