Last Look

Seeing the forest

How to take a closer look at the stem of a maple leaf.

Mark Zurolo ’01MFA

Mark Zurolo ’01MFA

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It looks like something out of Star Wars, but it’s a cross section of a maple leaf stem—a 3-D printout, 50 times enlarged. Craig Brodersen, an assistant professor at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, uses these magnified reproductions to get a close look at the inner workings of plants. This stem (petiole, to be exact) aids his research with postdoc Jay Wason on how four New England tree species are reacting to climate change. It was scanned at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, but Brodersen says Yale now has equipment with “comparable capabilities.” When students “pick up an object like this,” he says, they start to appreciate “the complexity and 3-D arrangements of tissues inside—so fundamental to how plants and trees work.”

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