ILTER Graduate Students Visit HJ Andrews Experimental Forest

Network News Spring 1998, Vol. 11 No. 1

First Stage in an International Student Exchange Program

Kristen Vanderbilt, Graduate Student, HJ Andrews Experimental Forest LTER
Twelve Asian ILTER guests visited the Andrews LTER Site August 15 through 19, 1997 with great success. The nine Taiwanese and three Japanese students (plus one professor from Taiwan) arrived on a Friday and spent Saturday and Sunday at the HJ Andrews Field Station and LTER site.

Over the weekend the group was joined by many of the graduate students who are conducting research there, each of whom gave a short presentation on their work. Topics included decomposition, soils, fluvial geomorphology, hydrology, coarse woody debris movement in streams, amphibians, fire ecology, gap dynamics, and biogeochemistry. The group asked many questions and showed great interest.

"I think the research here is much more applied and management oriented than what most of them are doing at their own LTER sites" says Kristin Vanderbilt, who organized many of the weekend activities and guest lectures. "Our guests showcased their own research projects for us on Sunday evening, each student giving a 10-minute slide show. They had obviously spent a lot of time preparing, and the presentations were well done. We certainly appreciated the effort they made to share their work and pictures of their countries with us."

The group traveled to Corvallis on Monday morning, where the ILTER students toured GIS and remote-sensing labs at the Forest Science Laboratory. Kristin had arranged for the President of OSU, Paul Risser, to greet them, and he shared his perspective on the LTER program. Other local leaders also were on hand to greet the students. The group had lunch in the sunny FSL courtyard, and were joined by several of the primary investigators on the LTER grant, and also many of the students who had given talks at the HJA. Following lunch, Fred Swanson and Mark Harmon spoke on the meaning of LTER.

The group traveled to the Wind River Forest Site in Washington on Monday afternoon and stayed at a rustic inn. At 6:30 the next morning, they were at the canopy crane site, ready for the first lift.

By 8 a.m., the entire group had enjoyed a ride and the Taiwanese students departed for the Portland airport. The Japanese students, who had a later flight time, stayed and hiked around the Wind River site for a few hours.

"It was a very busy few days, but it was quite enjoyable," Kristin says. "I think everyone involved benefited from this experience. We learned about the science and research communities in each other’s countries, and about what motivates choices of research topics.

"This was a broadening experience, and I think we all came away with a different perspective on what LTER and ILTER has to offer. I think we all got a sense of being part of something much greater than the single site where we do our studies, and the possibility of conducting collaboratory research between U.S. sites and sites in Japan, Taiwan, or other countries seems far less remote."