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Environmental science takes a hike

An enthusiastic group of seniors in Honors Environmental Science traveled to Mill Creek Canyon in the Angeles National Forest to study chaparral biodiversity in the region. Uniform landscape morphology and several distinct soil regimes in the canyon allowed students to examine variability in plant density and diversity as a function of soil chemistry.  

Two students explore the outdoors

Right photo (L-R): Nico Stanton ’24, CJ Sullivan ’24 and Will Bigby ’24 conduct a grid survey of native plant density at the remotest site in our field study, underlain by iron-rich hornblende gabbro-derived soil.

CJ Sullivan ’24 and his research group encountered an unexpected plant coloration and realized that they had found a subspecies they hadn’t anticipated. “It was a good opportunity to get out there and see that not everything is going to be exactly how you expect it to be,” he said.  

“I was glad to be able to take a day to not have to think about anything besides counting the plants in a specific area,” shares Will Bigby ’24. “The views were nice. The sky was clear. It was just a nice day to focus specifically on environmental science.” 

Students hike back from the field area along an old service road in Mill Creek Canyon, which was severely burned