Heidi Albano NSF Graduate Fellow
Thesis Title:
The effects of invasive cheatgrass on soil nutrients and plant community structure of sagebrush steppe kipukas.

Research Advisor:
Dr. Nancy Huntly

Teacher Partner:
Christenia Coast

Degree Sought:
Master of Science

University Department and/or Lab:
Biological Sciences

Description of Research:
Invasive species can have many effects on an ecosystem once it has become established.  One major change that can occur is the amount of carbon and nitrogen cycled in the soil and the mineralization of nitrogen.  In my research, I am focusing on the relationship between the invasive plant, Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass), and soil carbon and nitrogen in the sagebrush steppe ecosystem.  Bromus tectorum is a winter annual that was introduced into western North America in the 1800’s.  I am using the kipukas (islands of sagebrush steppe surrounded by lava) at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve to evaluate the invasion of B. tectorum and its effects on the soil carbon/nitrogen cycle.

An example of how you integrate your research into your GK-12 experience:
To integrate research into the classroom, my partner teacher and I have chosen to allot a certain amount of time each week for the students to engage in a science based activity. The hardest thing that I have encountered is keeping the students engaged in the activity. With 3rd/4th graders it is very easy for them to get off task and the way that they are use to learning at the Charter school is different than I am use to. I am having to adjust my frame of mind on many things. Mainly letting the students teach themselves and use me as a reference when needed instead of me lecturing.

Profile date: Sept. 2008


Heidi Albano