Ryan Zawodny

Ryan Zawodny updated the NMU McNair program on his experience thus far at the Northern Arizona University for the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)  in forestry. Ryan applied and was accepted to this REU opportunity made available through funding from the National Science Foundation. Ryan is a rising junior at NMU, a biology major, and a member of the 2017/18 McNair cohort. He came to NMU from Marlette, MI.


” I cannot say I have quite acclimated to the elevation change yet, but I have definitely settled into Flagstaff and my lab.

Last Wednesday my fellow program participants and myself ventured out to the Merriam Powell Research Station in Coconino National Forest and conducted an introductory study of an ecological observation that we made in the area. We stayed for four days and ran through the basic components of the scientific method and some key points in planning and executing a research study.

Now, back on Northern Arizona University’s campus, I am in my lab for the summer within the Forestry Department. I am helping a graduate student with his research for his PhD program and also receiving assistance on my own proposal. My study is on local conifers, how they tolerate excessive heat, and whether they differ in their thermostability based on their predominant elevation range. The technique to expose these species to heat shock and run the protocols have never been done. Hopefully, by the end of the study, we will find a significant result.


Flagstaff is an amazing city, both for its building and vibrant community. I have already experienced some activities that take place in town and plan to attend many more. There is also no end to the opportunities to explore the Arizona area and even beyond (I will be traveling to Utah to plant pine trees, and potentially driving through Zion.) Although I do love NMU’s campus, I do have to say that the campus at NAU is also very beautiful and has some ingenious ideas for sustainability and community connectivity.

I am looking forward to learning more about the research process I am undertaking and seeing the final result in just eight weeks. ”


*Ryan Zawodny is far left with his fellow REU program participants.


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