Hello, Madison!

Map of Wisconsin from Google Earth.

The pain of waiting for an answer is over: I’ve been accepted to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study Land Resources. The bustling capital city is located between two frequently-kayaked and very fishable lakes, Monona and Mendota. The city is sustainable in that biking and walking are the main methods of transportation, and places to eat, live, study, and be entertained are all very close to each other. A highly centralized city like Madison is a great environment for a grad student without a car, such as myself. The average apartment here rents for around $800/month but according to students, the price of living is increasing as people are discovering this secret city. Here are some pictures from the plane, a map of Wisconsin, and the view of the “West Side” from the top of the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS) building at the University.

I learned so much during my short two-day stay in Madison, and while part of me wants to tell the world what it was like, the other part wants people to stop flocking to this part of the Midwest like geese so I can afford my future rent. So, long story short: graduate students typically live in the “East Side”, “West Side”, or Eagle Heights on-campus apartments. The east side wasn’t given its name because of its cardinal direction; rather, the Greek life and other undergraduate goings-on have deemed it the “party” side of town. West side is where many of the sleep-deprived, thesis-writing graduate students reside. Finally, Eagle Heights apartments are just a bus ride from campus- and that’s about as far as you’ll have to travel for anything in this place. It’s wonderful.

Image from Pinterest.

Now let’s get into the specifics about the school and how I stumbled upon it in the first place. The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Atmospheric Science and Meteorology program for graduate students ranks among the top 14 in the United States, alongside universities such as Princeton, UCLA, and Cornell. Although I’m not an expert on climate change, I’ve glazed the surface with my past research on ice storms in New Hampshire. The real reason that I ended up here is primarily because of Dr. Ankur Desai. His research on biogeochemistry takes ice storms to the next level. Literally. Whereas my past research took me below the ground to observe dissolved organic carbon leached by tree roots, the Desai lab studies the relationship between the ground and the atmosphere.

Image from Desai lab website.
Dr. Desai (middle) with his team of researchers. Image from Desai lab website.

The main testing apparatus at the Eco-meteorology lab are flux towers, which are also being used at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest and throughout the United States. Eddy covariance flux towers are great for remote sensing, which means you can somewhat-easily collect data over a span of hundreds of miles. Flux towers can be used to measure trends in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, volatile organic carbons (VOCs), and water to name a few. I’m not sure what exactly I’ll be testing with these flux towers just yet, but Masters students usually take their entire first semester to pound out what exactly they’re going to study. I’m just glad I’ve got so many people rooting for me along the way. I was truly amazed at how friendly the other researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison were. Although google tells me that this school surpasses the University at Buffalo in total enrollment, it has a much smaller, personal feel than my alma mater. Despite the students strolling the streets and the tall buildings that speckle the landscape, I think it would be hard to get lost in the crowd here. This is my new home. Thanks for reading, Jess

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