Rachel Oien ’13, a Gustavus environmental studies and geology student, is working on a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates in Costa Rica. Rachel’s work is physically demanding, involving rappelling down steep slopes and augering soil samples from the forest floor. Student researchers can take satisfaction in knowing that their efforts are important. The project is aimed at understanding the interaction of soils and vegetation in the water balance of the tropical montane cloud forest. Since the project examines both undeveloped and altered sections of the watershed, it will help scientists understand how rainforest cutting alters streamflow and water availability. The project is a multi-year project and will continue in 2013 so interested students should watch for next year’s application deadline. The project is based in the Geography, Civil Engineering, and Crop Sciences Departments at Texas A and M University and the project website is at: http://costaricareu.tamu.edu/home.