Jenifer Gonzalez

When I got accepted to GLBRC, I was shocked. GLRBC was my first research experience outside my college institution. It was also the first time I traveled away from home for a long period of time, since I live at home and commute to school. I did not know what to expect. I was also not very familiar with bioenergy research, so I was worried that I would not enjoy or understand it. I got on a plane expecting the worst.

The first few days were a little overwhelming with all the information given to us about GLBRC research goals. It was also a little unsettling getting to know all the other REU students and familiarizing myself with the MSU campus since it is a hundred times bigger than my school campus.

Everything changed when I met my PI, Dr. Lisa Tiemann, my mentors Darian and Matthew, and my lab mates. Everyone was very sweet and welcoming. They showed me around the lab and explained to me in detail everything I would be doing this summer. They gave me their personal numbers and encouraged me to contact them with any questions. I immediately loved everything about working in the lab. My project focused on the environmental productivity of switchgrass and corn. I did a lab incubation study which focused on the interactions between aboveground and belowground biofuel crop residues and root exudates and how they influence decomposition and microbial community dynamics. I had the opportunity to work with equipment that I had never worked with before. I learned new lab techniques and protocols that have made me into a better scientist.

Besides having an awesome time in lab, I especially enjoyed exploring Michigan and creating new memories with everyone in the program. We grew very close to one another and we made sure every weekend and almost every evening we had something new to do. I will never forget our cabin trip to Manistee, our countless trips to the lake, or our Fourth of July “American Olympics” activities. GLBRC was an experience I will never forget.