Dr. Laura Hainsworth: Making Scientific Observations “on the Farm”

Posted by Monica Hoel
Emory & Henry’s Dr. Laura Hainsworth doesn’t agree with John Denver on one important point: life on the farm is anything but laid back.

As the director of Emory & Henry’s Bartlett-Crowe Field Station, Dr. Hainsworth oversees a huge array of student research, maintenance, and observations that are just part of life on this beautiful farm donated to the College by Dr. Charlie Bartlett. He wished for this beloved property to be used in a variety of ways for academic enhancement, and Dr. Hainsworth’s hard work is making that wish come true.

In addition to being part of the challenging and rewarding academic offerings in the Environmental Science program, it is also a location where citizen science plays a role. Also called community science, citizen science is the practice of ordinary community folks being involved in the collection of data that can then be used for scientific research. At the Bartlett-Crowe Field Station there are several ongoing opportunities where data is gathered by students and visitors and then shared with a wider community of scientists and observers.

She and some of her students have gotten training to be stream monitors and keep an eye on the quality of water in the river that runs next to the property. The Field Station also has a phenology trail where anyone walking around the grounds can make observations about the timing of blooms on certain trees on the farm. And then there are the day-to-day discoveries that get shared on iNaturalist.

Laura says this community effort at data gathering is important because there just aren’t enough eyes in the professional scientific world to notice and record every little thing. And as a great example of the success of this venture she points to the number of astronomical discoveries that have been made, not by scientists, but by astronomy enthusiasts who watch the night sky. “The world is immense! And in order to create a more thorough collection of data it takes many observers.”

Enjoy a conversation with Dr. Hainsworth in the archives of WEHC-FM. And check out recorded engagement events (including a presentation by a representative from iNaturalist) that allow participants to learn through a recent citizen science project that teamed up E&H alumni, Smyth County Libraries, and the Holston Rivers Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalist.

  • Dr. Laura Hainsworth, Emory & Henry Chemistry and Environmental Studies Professor and Director of the Bartlett-Crowe Field Station

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  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1037-dr-lee-wheeler-honored-by-the-virginia-community"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/6,9,190,193/7100_wheeler.rev.1571864387.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/6,9,190,193/7100_wheeler.rev.1571864387.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/6,9,190,193/7100_wheeler.rev.1571864387.jpg" alt="Dr. Lee Wheeler, E&H Class of '74, back row left." width="345" height="225" data-max-w="184" data-max-h="184" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1037-dr-lee-wheeler-honored-by-the-virginia-community">Dr. Lee Wheeler Honored by the Virginia Community College System</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Dr. Wheeler (E&H ’74), and wife, Anne, were awarded the 2019 Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy. <a href="/live/news/1037-dr-lee-wheeler-honored-by-the-virginia-community" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1538-patrick-smith-is-howling-for-nc-state"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1092,1092/9056_FB_IMG_1583779682958.rev.1606837178.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1092,1092/9056_FB_IMG_1583779682958.rev.1606837178.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1092,1092/9056_FB_IMG_1583779682958.rev.1606837178.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1092,1092/9056_FB_IMG_1583779682958.rev.1606837178.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1092,1092/9056_FB_IMG_1583779682958.rev.1606837178.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1092,1092/9056_FB_IMG_1583779682958.rev.1606837178.jpg" alt="Patrick Smith, Emory & Henry Class of 2012." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1092,1092/9056_FB_IMG_1583779682958.rev.1606837178.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1092,1092/9056_FB_IMG_1583779682958.rev.1606837178.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1092" data-max-h="1092" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1538-patrick-smith-is-howling-for-nc-state">Patrick Smith is Howling for NC State</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Patrick Smith came to Emory & Henry as a quiet, unassuming sort of guy: and now he’s one of the public faces of NC State. <a href="/live/news/1538-patrick-smith-is-howling-for-nc-state" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1386-eamph-alumni-librarians-organize-reading-challenge"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/png" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/40,0,559,518/8585_books.rev.1601424919.png 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/40,0,559,518/8585_books.rev.1601424919.png" alt="" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="519" data-max-h="518" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1386-eamph-alumni-librarians-organize-reading-challenge">E&H Alumni Librarians Organize Reading Challenge for Stay Homecoming</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> This Stay Homecoming event is a real page-turner. <a href="/live/news/1386-eamph-alumni-librarians-organize-reading-challenge" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>