Anna Herzberger's blog

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. 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 5, 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.

So if you remember from previous blogs, my research project is attempting to find differences is in the soil-microbial community between corn, rice (grasses) and soy (a legume). Global soybean trade, specifically soybeans from Brazil and the USA, are being imported by China; these imports are cheaper than domestically produced soybeans, thus driving out China’s domestic soybean production. Areas that were originally planted with soy are being converted to rice and corn, as they are more profitable crops. In order to identify these changes, our research team is traveling around Heilongjiang, the far northeastern province, surveying farmers and sampling their soil.

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June 14, 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.

It’s May.  I am sitting in my studio apartment, looking at old take-out Chinese boxes with disgust and attempting to pack for my field season in China.  In only one bag. How many pairs of socks should I pack? How much instant coffee does a summer of data collection in Asia require? Can I really carry 50 pounds, everyday, on my back? 

My phone rings…

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Aug. 12, 2015

Anna Herzberger is an MSU Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability doctoral student studying Chinese at Peking University the summer of 2015. She hails from the farmlands of Virginia, Ilinois.

After being in China long enough to maneuver public transportation and understand a few basic phrases in Chinese, I was ready to head out and see the sights.

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Aug. 3, 2015

Anna Herzberger is an MSU Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability doctoral student studying Chinese at Peking University the summer of 2015. She hails from the farmlands of Virginia, Ilinois.

Ironically, after almost two weeks in China I still haven’t had any tea. I have dined in homes and in restaurants, with young and older people but have not encountered this elusive cornerstone of Chinese culture. However, I have encountered many products made from soybeans (黃豆).

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July 23, 2015

Anna Herzberger is an MSU Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability doctoral student studying Chinese at Peking University the summer of 2015. She hails from the farmlands of Virginia, Ilinois.

I am learning how to fail honorably.  

I traveled half way around the world to study the Chinese language and make connections that would be helpful throughout my graduate research. Much to my surprise and a little to my dismay, the most applicable skill I am learning from this journey is how to fail.

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June 23, 2015

Anna Herzberger is an MSU Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability doctoral student studying Chinese at Peking University the summer of 2015. She hails from the farmlands of Virginia, Ilinois.

I have probably heard the old saying  “What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?” a hundred times. Growing up, my parents would use it to denote that something was irrelevant, unconnected, removed or the furthest thing possible from the current subject matter.  “Tea” here was generic. My parents could have been saying “What does that have to do with the price of soybeans in China?” This might have made more sense considering we are a fourth-generation farming family and this is where the story gets interesting.

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