Written by undergraduate research apprentice, Samantha Morco, who is currently a third-year Integrative Biology student.
For my URAP at the MVZ this semester, I have been part of the archival project that digitizes field notebooks. I enjoyed reading the field notebooks as I scanned not just their catalogs, but their field journals as well. It was interesting to see into the minds of the researchers as they were researching their projects, especially since field research is something I am considering pursuing someday so it gave me an idea of what it was like. I was able to learn about some of the species that they researched, particularly salamanders as the field notebooks I scanned had an emphasis on those amphibians.
Some researchers also journaled about their entire day beyond just the research, so I was able to learn about hotels and food in Mexico. This made the field notebooks feel sort of like a travel guide (even though some of the information is old and might be outdated). It showed me that there was so much more to field research than just observing and counting salamanders all day, although it was amazing how dedicated the researchers were in the field.
The field notebooks are filled with pages and pages of observations and catalogs, and the pages are filled with their passion for the subject. By digitizing the field notebooks, we can forever preserve their hard work and passion for everyone else to see, and inspire others to further their research too.