Human+Nature Blog

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 sight 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 field work 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 the 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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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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Joe Nohner is a CSIS PhD student who's studying largemouth bass, specifically how habitat helps baby largemouth survive and grow, and the socioeconomic factors that influence landowners’ habitat management choices. He's also a passionate fisherman who aims to understand the layers and layers of complexity to solve ecosystem problems. This is an excerpt from Joe's blog, Fishing for Habitat.

Nov. 2, 2015

“I have no idea what this thing is, some sort of a spiny-headed worm or something,” called out Michelle, a technician in the lab. Transfixed by the insidious creature, she zoomed in with the microscope to take a

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