Posted: May 16, 2017

Meet the Directed Research group that you thought you forgot.

We are an elite, hand-picked squad of data collecting machines specializing in the non-human disciplines.

There’s Matt, the intern that walks with us, talks with us, gets lost with us, and finds plots with us.

There’s Eleanore, the voracious herbaceous collector who can set up a transect in any cardinal direction, anytime, anywhere.

There’s Emma, who just might compile all the bird data on your laptop while you’re not looking then blame it on the campus cat.

Each of us feels the pressures of time, and pressures time back.

With at most three of us in the dorm at any given time, the common areas are slowly being overcome with clothing, wood shavings, tree core mounts, coffee powder, and mugs (all of those things are mine).

Every morning, we get to go to a new fantastic place on the UWICE campus. Every day, we plan to complete four plots for research. Every afternoon at 4 pm, we accept the inevitable ludicrousness of our expectations and leave our third plot to go home. Some nights, we go to town for dinner, eating pizza at Café Perk, or fried Maggi (like spicy ramen) at Subba.

The Core Frenzy
For the past week and the next few days, I am a dendrochronologist. I take cores from trees with an increment borer, and look at the distances between the rings on the cores. I can get an idea of how fast a tree is growing and was growing (sometimes more than a hundred years ago with these trees). It all started when a wonderful man named Dorji, whom I call Dale (which I have been told means shield), taught the SFS students how to core a tree! The core frenzy gripped me like a clamp, and now I can’t remember life without it. Core Frenzy is the look in the eye, that disease that grips the unsuspecting dendrochronologist. They say that it’s hereditary. It’s a good thing that my part-Swedish father has some good old Scots pines to core in his grandparents’ homeland.

Some of my cores, scanned after sanding. I use a program to measure the distances between each of the rings on the cores

That’s me

A photo from one of our plots

Giant rhododendrons!

→ Himalayan Environment and Society in Transition