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Summer Research Opportunity for High School Students

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry offers a research opportunity for curious and motivated high school students. You can enroll in a free research course, ESF296, and work with undergraduate and graduate students in the Multiple Element Limitation in Northern Hardwood Ecosystems (MELNHE) project coordinated by Dr. Ruth Yanai.

Who Are We?

We’re the Forest Ecology Lab at SUNY-ESF run by Ruth Yanai, and you are getting this document because you’ve expressed interest in joining our lab in some way. Below we have a general overview of how to get involved and links to more information about our projects.

 Here’s a link to the lab crew blog.

 If after reading everything, you still have questions, please contact our registrar Mary Hagemann, 

Volunteering For Credit

High School Students

High school students can earn college credit through the ESF in the High School program. It is 45 hours/credit, for up to 3 credits for the course ESF 296 Ruth Yanai Lab. Syllabus for ESF 296

You will need to be registered for the ESF in the High School program. Let us know whether you have previously been enrolled in the program (e.g., Global Environment) in your high school, as this affects the registration process.

College Students

College Students may register for one of the following:

FOR 298 - Research Internship in Forest and Natural Resources Management (1-3 credits)

This is an opportunity for students to gain experience in a lab without having to take responsibility for an independent research project (see FOR 498). 40 hours/credit, Pass/Fail.

FOR 498- Independent Study in Forest Resources Management

This option requires collaboration with the professor (Ruth) to develop a work plan to create a product (research paper, poster, etc). This class is offered only for a letter grade and a minimum of 2 credits is required.

General Lab Experience

During the school year, our lab offers hours on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for students taking ESF 296 and FOR 298.  On a typical day in the lab, we process soil samples (sorting live roots into size classes) and leaf litter (sorting leaf litter by species). Other skills acquired in our lab include data entry, error detection and recovery, and graphing.

 Additional opportunities:

  • Independent project- If a student is interested in starting an independent project, they can meet with Ruth to discuss their options.
    • We have a wide range of informal projects that students may take on that are not as research or time intensive as FOR 498. This is for students who would like to take on additional responsibility in the lab.
  • Students 18 or older can learn how to acid wash, grind and digest samples, and analyze them using ICP.
  • Graduate students in lab may offer opportunities to assist with their projects.

During the summer, the days vary based on people's schedules and who is in charge of supervising. If you want to volunteer over the summer, but don’t know if it matches your schedule, ask!

We offer a few days of  field experience during the AY and summer. Stay tuned for announcements.

Lab Access

Baker Laboratory room 176, off West Campus Drive

Campus Map

The door will be locked, call 315-565-3002 (lab phone) or the lab host. You may also use the campus police box located near the door. Simply press “Call” or dial x6667 for non-emergency (x6666 for emergencies) and ask them to unlock the door.

Project Background

Although temperate forests are generally thought of as N-limited, resource optimization theory predicts that ecosystem productivity should be co-limited by multiple nutrients. These ideas are represented in the Multi-Element Limitation (MEL) model, developed by Ed Rastetter at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. To test the patterns of resource limitation predicted by MEL, we are conducting nutrient manipulations (fertilizing with N, P, N+P, and Ca) in three study sites in New Hampshire: the Bartlett Experimental Forest, the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, and Jeffers Brook in the White Mountain National Forest.

We are monitoring stem diameter, leaf area, sap flow, foliar chemistry, leaf litter production and chemistry, foliar nutrient resorption, root biomass and production, mycorrhizal associations, soil respiration, heterotrophic respiration, N and P availability, N mineralization, soil phosphatase activity, soil carbon and nitrogen, nutrient uptake capacity of roots, and mineral weathering. MELNHE is now led by three principal investigators: Ruth Yanai, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY; Melany Fisk, Miami University of Ohio, Oxford, OH; and Tim Fahey, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, with a host of additional collaborators, including graduate students, technicians, undergraduate students, high school teachers and visiting scientists.

Sites & Experimental Design

Our research takes place in 3 sites in New Hampshire - the Bartlett Experimental Forest (BEF) in Bartlett, NH, the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (HB) in North Woodstock, NH, and Jeffers Brook in the White Mountain National Forest (JB), in Woodsville, NH. These three sites represent a gradient of soil fertility, with JB being the most fertile, HB intermediate, and BEF being the least fertile.