I first became involved with the Silver Lab as a volunteer during my senior year as an Environmental Engineering Science undergraduate at UC Berkeley. After graduating in December, 2008 I formally joined the lab as a technician, working specifically on the Marin Carbon Project, a research project that’s exploring better land management techniques as a means of sequestering and storing atmospheric CO2 in California grasslands. My interests lie in design and development for energy and resource efficient land use, as well as permaculture, organic farming, and sustainable agriculture
I began work this summer as a laboratory assistant with the Silver lab. In the past I have worked on projects looking at the effects of rice rats on seed dispersal in Belize, the effects of grazing on native grassland vegetation and the endangered Smith’s blue butterfly in Carmel, and have also been involved with a study examining bees in urban gardens throughout California. In addition, I designed my own studies to investigate plant-ant-aphid interactions and arthropod biodiversity in soils cultivated by different agricultural practices in French Polynesia. My primary interest is in tropical ecology as it relates to entomology, land use practices, environmental chemistry, grassland and forest ecosystem ecology, environmental law and theories of biodiversity. I recently graduated from UC Berkeley where I earned a B.A. in Public Health and a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies.
I joined the lab in 2009, and I’m the lab manager for the Silver group. If you have any questions about the instruments we use (Elemental Analyzer, Lachat, Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer), I’m the person to talk to. Before joining the Silver lab, I spent four years at an analytical chemistry lab, where I ran gas chromatographs and quadrupole mass spectrometers to detect volatile organic compounds in soil and water samples. I have a degree in Chemistry from Amherst College. Much of my work is on the Marin Carbon Project, which means I get to work outside, which is a particular treat since the previous lab I worked in had no windows. Please do not confuse me either with my twin brother, Bill McDowell, who worked in the Silver lab as a technician in 2004-2005, or with my father, Dr Bill McDowell, who collaborates with Whendee.