URI student gains research experience battling aggressive invasive Mile-a-Minute vine

27122011MAMChristine Weiss took a non-traditional path to college success. She dropped out of high school at age 15, worked construction jobs for several years before getting laid off, and finally decided to pursue her first passion – biology.

Last week she completed a seven-month research project that found her leading teams of high school students in an effort to study and eradicate a destructive invasive plant called mile-a-minute vine. It’s a project that reinforced her desire to continue her educational roller coaster and eventually enroll in graduate school.“Mile-a-minute vine arrived from Asia in the early 20th century and quickly spread all over the East Coast,” said Weiss, who grew up in Ballouville, Conn., and now lives in Central Falls, R.I. “It’s a vigorous grower, scrambling over bushes, suffocating native plants, and doing significant damage.” Weiss and her student team worked in collaboration with the Rhode Island Natural History Survey last summer to map and remove the invasive vine from sites in Cranston, East Greenwich and Block Island.