Undergraduate Research in German and Russian Studies

Below are recent Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) projects completed by students studying German and Russian Studies at Pomona College.

The Ecology of Germany: Conservation and Observation in the North Sea and Black Forest

Emma Paulini ’21; Advisors: Friederike von Schwerin-High and Hans Rindisbacher

As a recipient of the German Department’s Sheirich Scholarship, I was able to travel to Baden-Württemberg and Germany’s North Sea coast to conduct an independent project combining my interests in German and biology. First, I explored the Black Forest region of Germany, hiking to observe and learn more about the environment and types of plants that occur in this area. Once excessively logged due to its economic importance in lumber and charcoal production, the Black Forest is now a biosphere reserve dominated by beechwood trees, pines, and firs. 2100 hectares of the forest grow without human intervention, and many rare and endangered species cohabitate and thrive in this part of the ancient forest. Due to its covering a significant range of altitude, the forest contains several climatic regions, which give it its status as one of the most diverse low mountain systems of Europe. Next, I traveled to the East Frisian island of Wangerooge, where I worked together with nature conservationists and other international volunteers to remove invasive plant species from the meadow habitat by the sea. Heath and deep-rooting beach grass maintain the integrity of the island habitats, and the surrounding dunes provide natural shore protection. Through our work, I helped foster the native flora and fauna, cultivated small freshwater biotopes, and learned more about the role of this island in the unique World Heritage Site of the Wadden Sea.