Lawrence J. Winship, professor of botany, received his B.S. (magna cum laude, honors in biology) from Yale University and his Ph.D. from Stanford University, where he completed his dissertation on nitrogen fixation and nitrate assimilation by lupines in coastal California. He continued his research on nitrogen fixation at the Harvard Forest of Harvard University, where he investigated the energy cost of nitrogen fixation by nodulated woody plants, particularly alders.
His recent research and teaching interests include the biophysics of gas diffusion into and out of root nodules and compost piles; computer models of forest succession applied to inquiry learning and the regulation of cell wall expansion during oscillatory growth in lily pollen tubes.
Unlike many plant biology survey courses, this class will not attempt comprehensive coverage, but rather will consist of a series of guided explorations into how plants around us grow, adapt and reproduce. Class will meet twice per week, once to discuss relevant literature and last week's results, and once to conduct experiments, take field walks, make observations and collect data. Likely topics include pigments and leaf color change, photosynthesis and respiration, seed germination, vegetative and reproductive anatomy, nutrient uptake, nitrogen fixation, tropisms and canopy structure, among others. We will grow plants in the Bioshelter and explore the woods and fields around us. Written work for the course will consist of short write-ups of each week's exploration. No formal prerequisites are required, but some experience with science and quantitative analysis is very much recommended.
Shaped by climate, elevation, and continuous disturbance, the forests of New England are diverse, ever-changing, and frankly beautiful. In this class we take day-long field trips to twelve forests, reading the literature on each forest type and learning to identify trees and other denizens. We will practice methods for scientific investigation, including community census and analysis and dendrochronology. We will learn to read the landscape for clues about history and stand dynamics.
Combining ideas, principles, and practices from horticulture, ecology and landscape design, we will develop and implement a sustainable landscape plan for part of the Hampshire College campus. We will first visit and come to understand several different natural plant communities in the Pioneer Valley and learn about native plants in the landscape from experts at Nasami Farm. We will learn how to identify herbs, vines, perennials, shrubs and trees, and how to place them with regard to soil, water, nutrients and canopy structure. We will then map an area, identify invasive species to be suppressed, and design a multi-storied sustainable plan incorporating both human and ecological design goals such as interesting flowers, colors, improved sight lines, and incorportion of edible species. Writing for the course will include a site inventory and an analysis of plant environment and dynamics, as well as a documented plan. Students will be expected to put in hours outside of class time improving and maintaining our site. NS 322 students will supervise design and action teams of NS 122 students.
Not long ago, in the mid-1800s, the landscape of New England was primarily rolling farmland. Stands of trees covered less than 20% of Massachusetts. Now the reverse is true, and over 80% of the land is covered with young woods. The same kinds of trees are back, but the forests are substantially different and the impacts of human activity remain. Yet hidden within our second and third growth forests are patches of trees that were never clear-cut and in some cases were not cut at all. In those places, called "old growth" forests or "historic woodlots," we can get a glimpse of what the pre-colonial woodland might have been like. We can study forest ecology in the absence of direct human disturbance. The significance of old woods and the ecology of the plants, animals, and soil organisms found on sites undisturbed by intense human activity are "hot" topics among conservationists and forest managers alike. In this course, we will visit old growth sites, learn how to identify, age, and census trees, and how to read the history of a site. We will locate and map special trees, soils and plants. We will examine the literature on both the social and ecological significance of old trees and old soils. Students will complete group or individual projects.
Nothing in life is more important than food. But billions of people don't have enough, the way we grow food poses dramatic challenges to the environment, and our collective health and quality of life are in the balance. This course will take a critical multidisciplinary look at the past, present and future of food, farming and eating. Are our current food sources sustainable? What are the ecological impacts of production? What will be the impact of climate change? Can we find new plant and animal species that will enhance our food 'security'? Is genetic modification of food really a bad idea? In what ways might alternative production systems, such as small scale, local and organic farms provide more sustainable solutions? Could the globalization of technology and information change the way we farm? How can education about diet and nutrition affect our behavior? How many farms and how many farmers? Class will meet twice per week for lectures, discussions, small group work and projects.
Water and life in the American Southwest For plants, animals and people in the arid regions of the American Southwest, water is life. Many cultures have developed in the region and have adapted to frequent and episodic droughts in different ways. In this class we will first learn about the climate, geology, soils, and ecology of the Southwest and then the history of human habitation from the Ancestral Puebloans up through modern Phoenix, AZ, one of the most rapidly growing parts of the US. We will take a required field trip to the region over Spring break and follow a river system such as the Salt, Gila, or Colorado, at least partway from source to sea, camping as we go. Exact trip location will depend upon weather and political climate. We will use the trip to learn firsthand how the waters are controlled and used today and how that compares with pre-contact times and to develop research projects that will form the central required work for the class. This course is supported by the Southwest Studies Program.
Professor of Botany
Mail Code NS
Cole Science Center 101
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002