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Dirk Vanderklein


  • Time Zone

  • Organization
    Montclair State University

  • Role
    Scientist Mentor: I will mentor teams of students online

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    I study how plants respond to changes in their environment and how plants change our environment.

  • Profile Question 1
    What is your favorite plant? Why?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    Larches are my favorite tree (a kind of plant) because they are pretty and they lose their leaves even though they are conifers (which are mostly evergreen).

  • Profile Question 2
    When and why did you decide to go into a science career?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    I decided to go into science as a career when I was an undergraduate student. I got to work on some research projects involving trees as an undergraduate and got very interested in the questions that were being asked and the way people were going about trying to answer those questions.

  • Profile Question 3
    Can you share a funny/interesting lab or field story?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    An interesting story happened to me last summer. I spent 2 months trying to set up a new experiment in a forest when one day I discovered that someone or something had vandalized my instruments. This made me upset, but I put everything together again only to find everything messed up again 2 weeks later. At that point I discovered claw marks on the container holding my instruments. It was a bear and apparently he/she did not like my research! I was never able to collect any usable data last summer because, no matter what I did to dissuade the bear, it kept coming back and knocking all my instruments on the ground. This summer, I took measures and got a stronger box to hold my instruments and pounded stakes around the box so that the bear could not knock it over. So far the bear has left things alone. I also put a sign on the box explaining what the research is about. I guess the bear has decided it is okay with what I doing.

  • Availability
    I am NOT available, please temporarily remove me from the available mentor list

  • Capacity: How many teams at a time are you comfortable working with?

Recent Posts

Screeching Fish Dirk Vanderklein

Dear Screeching Fish,

I am sorry I have not responded recently. Last I checked there wasn't anything new and then somehow I missed your latest post. Height and weight are good things to measure. The best way to measure weight is to harvest the plant, dry it and then weigh it. If you are weighing the pots with the plants in them, you may not get much effect because the mass of the soil and water is so much more than the mass of the plant. When you measure height, you need to be sure you are consistent in how you measure it for each of the plants. You can get dry weight measurements when the experiment is done. Try to measure height growth often so that you can catch the change in growth rate over time. Other than that, you might want to pay attention to if flowers or seeds form. If so, note when it occurred for each plant. Also, don't get rid of the dead leaves. You want to save those. They can also be used to assess the effect of the salt treatment. Back to the dry weights, you should divide the plants into at least roots and leaves. You may find that the plants allocate their mass to different parts depending on their environment (or in your case your treatment). I hope this still comes in time and is of use.

Dr. V.

sushilovers246 Dirk Vanderklein

Dear Sushi lovers,

I had fun being your mentor. I hope you can continue in a science when you go to college. Doing further experiments with your plants is a great idea. My experience is that liquids with sugar in them tend to kill plants. I don't really know why. One possibility is that the sugar promotes bacterial growth that takes nitrogen away from the plants. Or, the bacteria kill the plants. Or, neither of those possibilities. That's the great thing about science, there are always new questions to ask. Have a great summer.


Dr. V.

sushilovers246 Dirk Vanderklein

Dear Sushi Lovers,

I just saw your pdf with the graph of plant heights and dates for all your treatments. Very interesting! I wonder why the Gatorade plants did so well? Is each line an average for all the plants in each treatment?

Dr. V.

Skills & Endorsements

  • Responsive
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  • Knowledgeable
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  • Experienced
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  • Encouraging
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  • Challenges Student Thinking
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