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Brynn Harrison just loves counting pollen!

Brynn is in her final term here at UO Geography. Last year she eagerly said that she thinks counting pollen would be soooo cool. A week or two later, this opportunity came up in Dr. Dan Gavin’s research lab. And the rest, as they say, is┬áhistory.

pollen processing 1This summer I was given the opportunity to work on sediment cores in Dan Gavin’s Long Term Environmental Change Lab on campus. Throughout the summer I was able to work on a very long core from the Coast Range near Triangle Lake in Oregon. I took samples from the core, dried and weighed them, and then burned and re-weighed those samples. This process, called Loss on Ignition, was used to determine the amount of organic material in those samples.

I have been able to use this experience to conduct research for an undergraduate thesis this fall. Currently, I’m sub-sampling sediment from the core I worked on this summer and preparing to send it to another university for further analysis. This analysis will provide the percentages of organic Carbon and Nitrogen present in these samples, as well as isotopic values of both. A ratio can be calculated using this information, which will then help me determine whether the vegetation was mostly aquatic or terrestrial during the time period and what the general climate looked like over time.

brynn in the lab

Dan Gavin has been awesome to work with. He’s a great adviser and I’ve learned so much over these past few months.

This was an awesome experience that totally solidified what I want to do with my life. I loved working with raw materials and I am looking forward to getting a chance to do fieldwork someday soon. I hope to continue my education at the University of Oregon and end up in the field of paleoclimatology.


pollen processing

50000yr old core