Students in TREES Lab to present their research

February 27, 2014

PLATTEVILLE, Wis.­­­ — The University of Wisconsin-Platteville Tree-Ring, Earth, and Environmental Sciences Laboratory is a teaching and research laboratory with interests and activities that fall across the broad realm of physical geography. Projects in the lab focuses on reconstructing past environments to better understand current and future environmental change. Located in Boebel Hall, the TREES Lab engages undergraduate students by providing hands-on experience conducting research.

“The TREES Lab provides students of all backgrounds with the opportunity to analyze their world through science,” said Dr. Evan Larson, assistant professor of geography. “It also provides an opportunity to build their work experience. We encourage all students to conduct research and we try to have them attend conferences to share their findings. These activities help build the student’s résumé and ability to communicate science.”

On Wednesday, March 12, several students who are part of the TREES Lab will be presenting their research at the 11th annual Posters in the Rotunda event held at the State Capitol in Madison, Wis. The annual event is a way to celebrate student research and showcase current educational studies to state legislators. “Posters in the Rotunda gives students the opportunity to communicate their projects to the public and policy makers, which is really the end goal for this type of work,” said Larson.

Gabriell Brownell is one of the students who will present his research at the upcoming Posters in the Rotunda event. Gabe is a junior from Walworth, Wis., who is majoring in geography, Spanish and international studies. His presentation will center on a project he conducted along with a team of fellow undergraduate researchers to reconstruct 400 years of climate history from the rings of eastern hemlock trees growing in the Porcupine Mountains State Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. “The TREES Lab gave me lab and field experience that will help me in my career goal of becoming a research scientist,” said Brownell. “Through my work in the lab and recommendation from my advisor, I have landed an internship. Another benefit of working in the lab is the strong résumé that I have built for graduate school.”

Dendroecology is the study of tree rings. Much of the undergraduate research done in the TREES Lab analyzes tree rings to help recreate a history of temperature, drought and other conditions that impact the environment of the course of time. In addition to environmental history, tree-rings can provide insight into human history, too. “We are starting to do work with historical structures in the area,” said Larson. “We can collect rings from timbers in old structures and determine when they were cut down to find out when a building was constructed. This is a tool that will allow historians to place historical structures and events in context.”

“The point of the TREES Lab is to provide opportunities for students at UW-Platteville,” said Larson. “Students really take the projects and run with them. We have students who go on to graduate school because of the work that they have conducted here. When we provide them with the tools for success, the students can achieve a lot. We are always looking for more students to help out with our projects.”

Written by: Ethan Giebel, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194,


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