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TREX 2018 Day 6: There’s fieldwork and then there’s FIELD. WORK.

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TREX 2018 Day 6: There’s fieldwork and then there’s FIELD. WORK.

By David Wu ‘19

There’s fieldwork and then there’s FIELD. WORK. Today, Meghan, Josh, Chang, and I did the latter. After analyzing the data collected by our drone at the corn farm on Sunday, we identified some interesting spots in the fields that we wanted to collect soil samples from. At each spot, we planned to dig up soil samples from four nearby points for pH testing, collect corn and leaves from the stalks to test the plants overall health, and record the plant heights.

We did not, however, plan for torrential down pours at the farm. Fieldwork, even in Hawaii, is vulnerable to Mother Nature’s will. The rain made for an experience that some might call “muddy and miserable,” and others would call just “not ideal.” After five minutes of collecting samples, my shoes and socks got so wet that it became hard to tell where I was stepping in a puddle or it was just the water splashing around in my boots. Nevertheless, we pushed on, because we were already soaking wet so might as well as researchers we have a duty to the data…or something.

Ultimately, we collected 40 soil samples and 10 crop samples that we will be able to analyze both during this trip and back at MIT. Our hard work was rewarded by a trip to Akaka Waterfall. Amazingly, there is a species of fish and a species of shrimp that swim/climb up the 400+ ft falls to lay eggs there every year! I guess a day of fieldwork in the rain and mud isn’t so bad after all.

Every year, a group of MIT students and professors travel to the Big Island of Hawaii to gain fieldwork experience through TREX (Traveling Research Environmental EXperiences). The first TREX trip was held in 2000, and since launching has taken students on research activities in domestic and international settings. For more undergraduate opportunities, click here.