October 04, 2011

Research in the Jungles of Costa Rica

Museum collections come from a variety of different sources. Sometimes they are donated by individuals and families, other times they are donated by other museums, cultural organizations or state agencies, and often, volunteers, researchers, and employees of the museum go out and collect themselves. These trips can take you down the street or around the world.

Regan Dunn, a UW graduate student who works in Burke Curator of Paleobotany Dr. Caroline Strömberg's lab, was in Costa Rica this summer conducting original research in the field.  By looking at the shape of plant cells (phytoliths) and amount of sunlight those plants receives, Regan is trying to determine if there is a correlation between the two.  By analyzing current ecological environments, Regan hopes to reconstruct and better understand past environments.

While Regan was in Costa Rica, Dr. Strömberg and Regan worked with the Burke Museum’s “Girls in Science” summer camp. Specifically, the girls examined phytoliths, learned about Paleoecology, and even conducted research on Tiger Mountain that replicated Regan’s field work. At the end of the day on the mountain, the girls came back to the Burke and talked with Regan about her research via Skype. They talked about what life in the field is like and even compared findings. Watch the video below to find out more – those rubber boots would work great for Seattle-based field work, too!

Posted by: Andrea Barber, Communications