Goodbye California

It was late Friday afternoon. With the working week finished, my roommates and I were relaxing on our couch at the Cal Poly Cerro Vista apartments with the door open, watching the sunset and taking turns strumming our favorite chords on the ukulele.  We were startled by a yelp and then frantic footsteps as Noelle, one of our REU peers, appeared in our doorway to say, “Come outside!  You have to see this!”  In our bare feet, we hurried to the back parking lot to see something black, furry, and the size of a hand crawling across the street.


Meet Terry the tarantula, born and raised on the sunny hills of San Luis Obispo, California.


Yea, to my surprise and delight, tarantulas exist here.  When I was little and all of my friends wanted dolphins and ponies as pets, I actually wanted a tarantula.  Too bad I couldn’t take him home!

So I’ve just posted my final tidbit on why California is such a cool and diverse state.  To wrap up the research I was doing on native California plants and their ability to translocate contaminants from the soil, I gave a presentation on the phytoremediation results I found.  It turns out that the plants were mostly sequestering contaminants from the soil rather than volatilizing them, which was the assumed outcome.  This is my professor Dr. Yarrow Nelson, me, the research poster I made, and the graduate student I worked with, Matt Poltorak:


My experiences with research this summer showed me that I want to go on to graduate school.  I’m so happy that I received this opportunity to do an REU from the National Science Foundation and Cal Poly because it was really helpful in determining what focus of environmental engineering I like and want to pursue in the future.  I came out of this program with specialized knowledge that I would not have learned in a classroom, and am very grateful for that.  To all of you engineering or science majors, I highly encourage you to apply for one of these NSF REU programs.  I’m so happy that I did!




About ludevon16

I am a Lehigh University IDEAS Environmental Engineering student focusing on a mix of biology, chemistry, environmental science, and sustainability. This summer I am participating in the Low-Energy Sustainable Farming Mountaintop Project at Lehigh, after coming back from a semester abroad in Freiburg, Germany. The previous summer I participated in an REU at Cal Poly researching phytoremediation. I am passionate about environmental remediation and want to pursue a career in the field after (fingers crossed) going to grad school. I am a flautist in the LU Philharmonic Orchestra, a student tutor for orgo, a member of LU's Finest step dancing team, and an inmate tutor for the Lehigh Prison Project. I like to rock climb, run, read, and play ukulele! View all posts by ludevon16

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