College of Arts & Science at Miami University
Forest Ecosystems: Science as a Team Effort
Trail to That One Number
(with Dr. Melany Fisk, September 2011)
A full text transcript of the video is available below.
(In this video Dr. Melany Fisk, Associate Professor of Zoology, describes the team effort involved in reducing the data from weeks of field and lab work to a single number.)
"So, one of the things that I really love about our work is that it's such a team effort. And that can be really fun for me when I'm in the field working with everybody, and it can be a little bit agonizing for me when back I'm in my office wondering how everything's going, so you try to keep the morale up in the troops. And it always amazes me all the work that goes on in the field—the complications of the different projects, who is in charge of what, and all the different interests of the different students—that it all comes together and all that information filters back, and we have to work pretty hard to make sure that we ensure that everything stays organized and is all well-informed.
"You know, different people think of things in very different ways and you really do start to learn that when you read someone else's interpretation of what they did in the field that day. So, that all hopefully makes it back safe and sound to the laboratory, where we can decipher it.
"And all this work, of weeks and weeks in the field, filters down to these papers that we receive in the lab and the soil samples that we have in the lab, and we continue to work with those and finally end up with this one finished product. And I like to think back, when I see that one number: here's the density of this tree species or here's the availability of nitrogen in this soil sample. I like to think back about the trail that that followed—had to follow—to get there."