Human+Nature Blog

April 6, 2017

Anna Herzberger is an MSU Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability doctoral student studying soybean production the Heilongjiang Province in northeastern China and in the United States. She hails from the farmlands of Virginia, Ill.

As the snow retreats and the days grow longer, I am again turning my attention towards summer fieldwork. I have fond memories of relaxing by the pool and spending time with my friends and family during high school and undergraduate summer breaks.

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Feb. 21, 2017

Ciara Hovis is working toward her PhD with Dr. Jack Liu studying the global soy trade using the telecoupling framework between the United States, Brazil and China.

A professor posed these two questions to my first year grad student cohort. And I realized I did not have a clear answer. If he asked me a year ago and replaced MSU with my undergrad alma mater, I would have fired off a response, no problem. I was a college student studying ecology and sustainability, with the goal of getting into graduate school to get a PhD. Since graduating this past spring, however, my mindset and situation has completely shifted.

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Nov. 1, 2016

Amanda Guthrie is a master's degree student studying who has been integral in developing how the Great Lakes are managed under bi-national agreements under Bill Taylor.

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Sept. 21, 2016

Thomas Connor is a PhD student studying with Jack Liu. He's doing field work in and around Wolong, China.

If you asked me a couple of years ago if I would ever experience waves of pleasure at the site of fresh feces, I would have probably answered “maybe.” I can now give a definitive “yes” to that question, if anyone was wondering, as my fall fieldwork in Sichuan Province, China, kicks off the ground. I am now in the north of Wolong Nature Reserve, staying in the village of Genda. From there it is a 20-minute drive and a couple hour hike into the mountains to reach the edge of the reserve, where it borders Caopo Nature Reserve to the north. The quest for panda poo is not easy at this time of year – it is the tail end of the rainy season, which leaves ground slippery and muddy and the bamboo understory soaking wet even on clear days. The pandas in the area are also currently eating the leaves of arrow bamboo, a species that occurs at high elevations above 2700 meters. This means a long climb every day, usually with the threat of rain, and without promise of success.

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Sept. 1, 2016

Anna Herzberger is an MSU Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability doctoral student doing research in the Heilongjiang Province in northeastern China. She hails from the farmlands of Virginia, Ill.

The second part of my project involves DNA extraction from my soil samples. For that, I travel to Nanjing and work in the lab of Dr. Fang Wang in the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Soil Science Institute.  Nanjing is only about an hour from Shanghai, which makes my presence much less of a novelty, as Chinese there are accustomed to foreigner travelers, so much so that the street signs are printed in both English and Chinese, making my commute to and from the institute exceptionally easy.

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Aug. 4, 2016

So-Jung Youn is a PhD student studying global utilization of inland capture fisheries and the inland fisheries value chain

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Aug. 2, 2016

Anna Herzberger is an MSU Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability doctoral student doing research in the Heilongjiang Province in northeastern China. She hails from the farmlands of Virginia, Ill.

As we drive through the rural Chinese country side visiting village after village, I notice a pattern within Chinese agriculture that is paralleled in Chinese culture, and that is quite different from anything I’ve experienced in America.

They literally use everything --  and between rice paddies are planted to soy and the medians between roads with corn. The roadside ditches are lined with small, neat rows and fields even exist around the graves in cemeteries. If we were lucky enough to find a small stand of trees, the understory was completely cleared,

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July 19, 2016

Anna Herzberger is an MSU Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability doctoral student doing research in the Heilongjiang Province in northeastern China. She hails from the farmlands of Virginia, Ill.

My fieldwork in China started off rough.

After the sparkle of the first week – being an honored guest, attending lavish dinners and getting private tours – wore off what remained was me, our research team of five and a project that had some serious American bias hiding within it. 

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July 15, 2016

Janet Hsiao is a master's degree student studying how landscape characteristics may affect the quality and condition of coastal habitats and the organisms they support. She is advised by Dana Infante.

Over the past few weeks, I have grown from a perpetually disheveled data scientist and learned to dress slightly better than a sack of potatoes –an added benefit of my summer of experiential learning in the DC area.

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July 5, 2016

Thomas Connor is a PhD student studying with Jack Liu. He's spending his summer doing field work in and around Wolong, China. 

Sweat streams down my face as I climb the steep slope. My guide and I are at around 2,000 meters elevation, and it usually stays quite cool even in these summer months, but the sun is full blast today and the hike is arduous. The slope must be at least 60 degrees, and all four limbs are needed to make progress up the mountain, with our hands grasping at vines or saplings for traction. Thorns and nettles scratch and sting, and our footing often gives way on the slick ground.

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