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A Breath of Fresh Air (Summer Intern’s Version)

At the start of 2021, Ellie Littler knew she needed a breath of fresh air from the pressures of being a college student during a global pandemic. Elizabeth “Ellie” Littler, a third-year plant science major from Deland, Florida, saw an email from her academic advisor about the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants summer internship – she knew she had to apply.

“I was really burnt out from classes and COVID and knew working outside and getting practical experience would be good for me, my career, and my health,” Littler said.

Ellie Littler (left) and Hannah Brown (right) working together outside the UF/IFAS CAIP greenhouses.

Since working at the Center, Littler has designed and conducted her ‘own’ experiment, conducted a biomass harvest, started a paper, created a research presentation, and created agar and plate seeds for germination.

For her own research study, Littler placed varying ratios of Eichhornia crassipes (water hyacinth) and Pistia stratiotes (water lettuce) in tubs along with different levels of iron in order to explore its effect on the competition between the two plants. Throughout the duration of her study, Littler collected plant counts every two weeks from 40 tubs of plants, some with counts of up to 400 plants.

To conclude this experiment, Littler conducted a biomass harvest.

“The biomass harvest was pretty gruesome and took me about 14 hours over two workdays”, Littler explained. “I collected all data and biomass on my own with the help of a few of my friends here (Ethan Church and Hannah Brown).”

Littler completed this study under the supervision of assistant professor Candice Prince.

“Working with Dr. Prince is amazing. She is genuinely so sweet and knowledgeable.,” Littler said. I’ve admired her since day one. She is always there to help and guide us.”

Ellie Littler presents her internship research project findings.

In October, Littler presented her research findings to the Center faculty and staff (pictured left).

“I had a really great time and I am grateful to be working here this fall too.”

If you are a student interested in a summer internship with the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, email caip@ifas.ufl.edu for more information.

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UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. Turning Science Into Solutions.