Student Research

Collaborative Faculty-Student Research Projects

Faculty and students routinely work collaboratively on environmental research and problem-solving projects. Recent projects include:

  • Art as a means to promote sustainability
  • Climate change, El Niño climatic events, and resource use in the Philippines
  • Aquatic ecology of the Rocky Mountains
  • Fate of the pesticide atrazine in soils and water
  • Assessment of environmental curricula at colleges and universities
  • The role of forest soil in storing atmospheric carbon
  • An industrial ecology approach to power generation and fish production
  • Sustainable forest initiatives by local woodland owners
  • Hands-on methods in high school science education
  • Local environmental planning

Junior Seminar Research Projects

Some recent titles:

  • Aquaponics
  • Ecotourism in Northwest Pennsylvania
  • Meadville Community Energy Project
  • Sustainable Forestry in Northwest Pennsylvania
  • Environmental Health, Justice, and Development
  • Environmental Education
  • Art and the Environment

Senior Projects

The Senior Project is a major piece of independent research extending through both semesters of the senior year. It demonstrates to employers and graduate schools the ability to work independently, to analyze and synthesize information, and to write and speak persuasively. Faculty research interests are often reflected in Senior Projects, and a faculty project advisor can become a post-project collaborator, co-authoring papers and professional presentations with current students and alumni. Recent senior project titles include:

  • Logging Moratorium in the Allegheny National Forest: An Economic Impact Study of Sheffield, Pennsylvania
  • Study of the Resource Manager and Cooperative Group Models of Certification and Their Feasibility for Small, Non-Industrial Private Forestland Owners in Northwestern Pennsylvania
  • Assessing the Impacts of Urban Sprawl Development and Proposing Alternative Strategies for the Future: The Case of Meadville, Pennsylvania
  • Wooded and Non-Wooded Temporary Wetlands in Northwestern Pennsylvania: Drought Survival and Colonization Strategies of Invertebrates
  • Human Health, the Environment and Silence: Hazards Created by the Use of Poly-Vinyl Chloride IV Bags
  • A Wetlands Index of Biological Integrity
  • The Effects of Road Salt Runoff (NaCl) on Caddisfly (Hydropsyche betteni) Drift in Mill Run, Meadville, Pennsylvania
  • Sustainable Forestry in Northwestern Pennsylvania: Obstacles and Opportunities
  • Environmental Education: Creation, Local Implementation and Evaluation of the Industrial Park Ecology Curriculum
  • Ecological Feasibility of Wolf Reintroduction Into the Allegheny National Forest
  • Estimation of the Monetary Value of a Wetland Using Economic Principles
  • Some Like It Hot: Ecological Art and a Solar Energy Sculpture

Student Achievements

In addition to the Senior Project, students can engage in a wide range of research, environmental problem-solving projects, and off-campus activities. Over one hundred students per year are involved in such activities.

Research projects, either conducted independently or in concert with faculty, give our students opportunities for achievements not often available to undergraduates at other institutions. Recent examples of student scholarship include:


  • “Spatial variation in the distribution of phosphorous species in the surface sediments of Canadohta Lake, Pennsylvania: Implication for internal phosphorous loading estimates,” based on Senior Project and co-authored by student and faculty, published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
  • “Beaver-pond wetlands in western Pennsylvania: An experimental analysis of colonization and desiccation tolerance after drought,” published in Wetland Invertebrates of North America
  • “Carbon dioxide and methane fluxes by a forest soil under laboratory-controlled moisture and temperature condition,” research project co-authored by student and faculty, published in Soil Biology and Biochemistry


  • “Effects of riparian forest width on stream-side salamander communities” (presented at the annual meeting of North American Benthological Society)
  • “Alternative approaches for teaching international environmental politics” (presented at the national meetings of the International Studies Association)
  • “Spatial variation in forest floor CO2 enrichment and in implications for photosynthesis in forests with different land use legacies” (presented at the Ecological Society of America)