Allegheny Senior Owen Ludwig Receives Davey Foundation Arbor Grant Award

Allegheny College senior Owen Ludwig is one of this year’s recipients of the national Davey Foundation Arbor Grant Award, given annually to about 50 students who focus on forestry, agriculture, or another green industry.

Ludwig is an environmental science major with a geology minor, and the $1,000 grant will support his work in green industries.

“Green industries are important to me for a number of reasons,” says Ludwig, who is from Monclova, Ohio. “I have a passion for the natural world that originates from a childhood spent exploring the outdoors. I think that it is important for everyone to have at least a basic connection to and understanding of the environment. It is critical that we take care of the Earth because we are dependent upon it to survive. Green industries work toward addressing these two fundamental issues: they try to enhance people’s connection with the environment, and they strive to care for the world in which we live.”

Over the past 25 years, the Davey Foundation has provided more than half a million dollars of support to students for their academic work. For Ludwig, the grant has eased the financial pressures of college and allowed him to focus on his education, activities and future plans.

Outside of the classroom, Ludwig works with Firth Maple Products, where he has been employed for two years. “Firth is a logging company that utilizes forward-thinking strategies to ensure that their timber harvesting is sustainable and promotes the health of the forest,” Ludwig says. “As a result, Firth is fostering a harmonious relationship between humans and the environment in which we can extract natural resources without compromising the future of the forest.”

Environmental Science Professor Rich Bowden suggested Ludwig apply for the grant. “Owen has worked with me as a research assistant in my laboratory for the last three years, assisting with a number of lab and field projects, as well as forest education efforts,” says Bowden. “Owen has been a terrific assistant, helping as much as his busy schedule has allowed. His experience, depth of knowledge, and sense of responsibility made it a no-brainer for me to depend on him completely. Importantly to me, Owen is a sound, caring person. He is extremely thoughtful, compassionate, and kind to those around him.”

Ludwig’s growth through Allegheny courses and his experience with Firth have helped make him a deserving recipient of the award. “Owen benefits rightfully in the recognition granted by a nationally recognized tree and forest service company due to his many accomplishments,” says Eric Pallant, the Christine Scott Nelson Professor of Environmental Sustainability and chair of the Department of Environmental Science. “Owen typifies the caliber of Allegheny’s students, as well as the breadth of opportunities available to students in environmental science.”

Many recipients of this award come from larger schools with dedicated forestry departments. ”Owen’s receipt of this award is a testimony to his energy in pursuing opportunities and his passion for forest protection,” says Bowden.

After graduation in May, Ludwig has a summer job planned with the Appalachian Mountain Club in New Hampshire, where he will lead teenagers on extended backcountry canoeing and backpacking trips. “Being a guide in the outdoor industry has been a longstanding dream of mine, and I’m excited to be able to share my passion for the outdoors with teenagers,” Ludwig says. After the summer, he intends to return to Meadville and continue his work with Firth Maple Products.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Wissinger, Balik Present at Entomological Society of America Meetings

Professor of Environmental Science and Biology Scott Wissinger and Jared Balik ’16 presented an invited paper in the symposium Impacts of Climate Change on “Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Invertebrates: Research from Earth’s Coldest and Most Rapidly Changing Environments” at the Entomological Society of America meetings in November 2017. The paper was titled “Elevational range shifts in alpine aquatic insects and consequences for ecosystem function” and included findings from Balik’s senior research at Allegheny funded by the Beckman Foundation and NSF.


Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Environmental Science Major Natalie DeSantis Receives Conference Scholarship

Natalie DeSantis ’20, an environmental science major, received a scholarship from the Georgia-based organization One Hundred Miles to attend its “Coastal Conservation in Action Choosing to Lead” conference on January 13–14, 2018, in Jekyll Island, Georgia. Allegheny graduate Megan Derosiers ’98 is the executive director of One Hundred Miles.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Creek Connections Uses Grant to Purchase New Stream-Testing Kits

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has awarded Allegheny College a grant of $1,500 in support of its Creek Connections program for pH test kits to continue measuring water quality in local watersheds.

K-12 students involved with Creek Connections use the pH kits to test how acidic or basic the water is as part of their overall study of the health of local western Pennsylvania streams. The health of western Pennsylvania creeks has been negatively affected by abandoned mine drainage waters that are sometimes acidic. Meters that students were using were at times difficult to use, read and maintain.

“With this grant, we were able to purchase pH test kits for our participating teachers and students to use this year and compare data collected with the pH meters we have been using in the past,” said Wendy Kedzierski, project director of Creek Connections.

“The pH meters can be tricky to maintain and we frequently had problems with them not working. We hope the data collected this year will show that the new kit gives reliable data, and we can make the switch to just using the new kits in the future,” Kedzierski said.

“We believe teachers and students prefer using the kit as there is more to it than just reading the numbers on the screen of the meter. … Ultimately the switch to the new kit will also save us money. The kit itself should never need to be replaced,” she said. “Overall, the pH kits provide a better experience for the students and their teachers and more reliable, accurate data to determine the health of the creeks.”

Through Creek Connections, Allegheny College forges partnerships with regional K-12 schools to turn waterways in northwest Pennsylvania, western Ohio, western Michigan and the Pittsburgh area into outdoor environmental laboratories. Emphasizing a hands-on, inquiry-based investigation of local waterways, this project annually involves over 40 different secondary schools and the classes of 50 teachers.

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy grant program provides assistance to the region’s watershed groups. Financial support for these projects was provided by the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation, which is dedicated to the economic, physical and social health of the communities served by Dominion Energy companies.

Since 2005, the conservancy and the Dominion Foundation have collaborated to help enhance water quality and watershed initiatives through this grant program, which has awarded $343,475 to more than 115 organizations. “The Mini Grant Program offers invaluable funding for smaller volunteer-based organizations and helps them to administer and complete a variety of different projects – like tree plantings and water monitoring – that are important to sustaining and enhancing local watersheds,” said Don Houser, Dominion’s state policy advisor.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Two Allegheny College Students Awarded NOAA Hollings Scholarships

Hollings Scholarship Recipients

Allegheny College juniors Megan Hazlett and Allyson Wood have been awarded Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarships by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The competitive scholarships include two years of tuition support and paid 10-week summer internships to conduct research, resource management or education projects while working with a NOAA mentor. Hazlett and Wood are among 110 students nationwide receiving the scholarship in 2017.

Hazlett is an environmental science and biology double major from West Middlesex, Pennsylvania. Through the Hollings Scholarship, she will intern at the Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Homer, Alaska, studying the growth of juvenile salmon.

“When I first heard about the Hollings Scholarship, I thought it sounded like such an amazing opportunity,” Hazlett said. “I never knew exactly what I wanted to study; I just knew that I loved studying wildlife and being outside. Since then, I’ve really come to love marine ecosystems, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity. Now, I am beyond grateful for receiving this coveted award.”

In summer 2016, Hazlett worked as a conservation education intern at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium and as an intern at Goddard State Park for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Last summer, she participated in a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates at the Hatfield Marine Science Center at Oregon State University. While there, Hazlett completed a project exploring the effects of ocean acidification on the behavior of a North Pacific flatfish.

Wood, of Buffalo, New York, is an environmental science major and environmental writing minor. In summer 2018, she will travel to North Carolina to intern at the Beaufort Southeast Fisheries Science Center as an Atlantic shark video technician, analyzing footage of sharks from previous years.

“I was inspired to apply for the Hollings Scholarship after discovering that I love working with aquatic organisms and being in the field,” Wood said. “My decision to apply was further cemented by my Environmental Science 201 class, where Dr. (Benjamin) Haywood taught us about aquaculture and the overfishing that is threatening fish populations. I applied for this scholarship because I want to have a role in revitalizing our fish populations and oceans.”

Wood learned about the Hollings Scholarship from Casey Bradshaw-Wilson, Allegheny visiting assistant professor of environmental science. In summer 2016, Wood assisted Bradshaw-Wilson with research on the round goby, an invasive fish in French Creek. Wood also earned a place on a prestigious 2017 Fulbright Summer Institute in the United Kingdom, where she took a field biology course at the University of Sussex.

According to NOAA, the Hollings Scholarship program is designed to:

  • increase undergraduate training in oceanic and atmospheric science, research, technology and education and foster multidisciplinary training opportunities;
  • increase public understanding and support for stewardship of the ocean and atmosphere and improve environmental literacy;
  • recruit and prepare students for public service careers with NOAA and other natural resource and science agencies at the federal, state and local levels of government; and
  • recruit and prepare students for careers as teachers and educators in oceanic and atmospheric science and to improve scientific and environmental education in the United States.

At the end of their summer internships, Hollings scholars present their results to scientists and peers during the annual Science & Education Symposium. Scholars also can apply for funding to present their research at up to two scientific conferences.

Pictured above, from left: Allyson Wood and Megan Hazlett

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Bowden Coauthors Paper Examining DIRT

Richard Bowden, Professor of Environmental Science, coauthored the invited paper “The Detrital Input and Removal Treatment (DIRT) Network,” published in Elsevier’s online peer-reviewed reference database in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences. The work describes an international network (DIRT) that assesses how rates and sources of plant litter inputs influence accumulations or losses of organic matter in forest soils. Forest soils contain three-quarters of the organic matter in forest ecosystems, thus exerting important influences in the global carbon budget. Quantifying the carbon budget is critical in anticipating effects of climate change.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny’s Game-changing Greenhouse Takes Root

The building is in some ways like any other of its kind, a cozy box of protection against the elements, a source of warmth and light for the leafy green things that will soon grow within.

But the newly built greenhouse in Allegheny College’s Carr Hall garden is different, too, in one fundamental, game-changing way: It produces more energy than it consumes.

“When you have a greenhouse, you expect to pay a lot in electricity and heating costs,” said Kelly Boulton, Allegheny’s sustainability coordinator. “This is flipping that narrative. It shows how possible it is to have a greenhouse without a large energy budget and with a small carbon footprint.”

The key? Groundbreaking solar panel technology.

The roof of the greenhouse is a collection of luminescent solar concentrators, or LSCs, a novel photovoltaic technology that generates electricity from “wasted” light. The panels capture and convert wavelengths of light that plants cannot use into electricity while allowing photosynthetically active light to reach the plants below.

The Allegheny greenhouse is among a small number to utilize luminescent solar concentrators, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science Ian Carbone said.

“We’re on the front edge of this,” Carbone said.

The greenhouse will extend a relatively short growing season, increasing production of fresh fruit and produce that is consumed on campus and shared with the community through a mobile food market. It will also serve as a hands-on lab for students and visitors to learn about energy use and food production, renewable energy, thermodynamics and more, Carbone said. A touch-screen monitor mounted to a wall inside Carr Hall displays energy consumption in real time.

“It raises awareness of where our food comes from and the energy that goes into the production of our food,” he said. “It also highlights an important problem, which is that local food isn’t always the most environmentally friendly” when grown in a more typical energy-intensive greenhouse.

Carbone, Boulton and Christine Scott Nelson Professor of Environmental Sustainability Eric Pallant helped secure a $37,500 grant that paid for the panels and heating system. The E2 Energy to Education grant from Constellation, an Exelon company, was part of $380,000 the company awarded to 17 projects nationwide “designed to enhance students’ understanding of science and technology, and inspire them to think differently about energy.”

The construction of the greenhouse itself was partially funded through a grant from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies.

Owen Ludwig, a 21-year-old environmental science major from Monclova, Ohio, helped take the greenhouse from blueprint to reality, finalizing the design, choosing contractors and obtaining permits. It was a chance to work with his hands doing the science he loves, Ludwig said.

“I feel like I’ve gotten to leave a very cool and tangible thing on this college campus,” he said.

Sarah Nathan, a senior from Toledo, Ohio, majoring in environmental studies, spent part of the summer developing lesson plans that incorporate the greenhouse. She said she hopes the greenhouse and the LSC technology can be a model for other, larger-scale farming operations.

“That’s a really good application of the greenhouse. Students can be looking at the technology we’re using, assessing how feasible that is for farmers in the area, and if it’s not feasible, then what other options do they have for eating local food in the winter?” said Nathan, 22.

Nathan and Ludwig have both worked with Carbone on the idea of creating a flexible photovoltaic material that could be rolled out over areas for larger-scale or commercial use.

“I’m excited about producing energy and taking advantage of this land resource, this farm land, where there’s a lot of space,” Carbone said. “There’s not a lot of roof space in the country but there are a lot of fields and there are a lot of places where people are growing food where we can potentially also be generating sustainable energy if we’re smart about it.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny College Featured in The Princeton Review’s ‘Guide to 375 Green Colleges’

Allegheny College is once again featured in The Princeton Review’s annual guide to the most environmentally responsible schools.

The “Guide to 375 Green Colleges” highlights schools with exceptional commitments to sustainability and includes profiles of each school’s admission requirements, cost and financial aid, and student body, as well as detailed “Green Facts” for some schools.

The Princeton Review chose schools for this eighth annual edition of its “green guide” based on data from a 2016-17 survey of school administrators that asked them to report on their school’s sustainability-related policies, practices and programs.

Allegheny has been included in each of eight editions.
“We are honored to once again be recognized by The Princeton Review,” said Kelly Boulton, the college’s sustainability coordinator. “It is a good reflection of what we do here. We are constantly making the effort to become more efficient, more sustainable and to reduce waste, and students are constantly involved, pushing that progress.”

The Princeton Review noted many of Allegheny’s efforts and accomplishments in the green movement, including the generation of all campus electricity through wind sources (purchased Renewable Energy Certificates) and on-campus solar arrays; a robust composting program; an on-campus garden that incorporates local, organic produce into the dining halls; and rain gardens, permeable paving solutions and wildflower plantings that help minimize stormwater runoff. Allegheny also is a charter signatory of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment with a climate neutrality goal of 2020 and a participant in the White House’s Better Buildings Challenge to increase building efficiencies by at least 20 percent across campus.

“Students help drive campus sustainability through research in classes, independent studies, senior comprehensive projects and student organization campaigns,” the guide noted.

The full guide is available online at

The honor follows similar recognitions earlier this year. The Sierra Club, the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization also included Allegheny on its annual list of top colleges and universities in the nation for green initiatives, institutions that the Sierra Club calls “America’s coolest schools.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Bowden Presents Seminar at Oregon State

Professor of Environmental Science Richard Bowden presented an invited seminar, “Can forest soils clean carbon out of the atmosphere? Soil carbon in temperate forest ecosystems” in June at Oregon State University. Bowden described work that his colleagues, students in his lab, and he are conducting on the inability of forest soils increase carbon storage as a means to reduce effects of climate change. The seminar summarized work conducted in research forests in Massachusetts, Michigan, Wisconsin, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Hungary.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

DeHart Market and Dinner Features Nature’s Bounty

More than 250 diners who were lucky enough to get tickets to the 15th Annual DeHart Dinner and Market at Allegheny College on Wednesday, October 4, feasted on dishes like sweet potato and carrot puree, kofta with yogurt sauce, and maple ice cream, all grown naturally and healthfully.

Tickets for the dinner were sold out in a record 90 minutes this year, according to organizers. The culinary event honors Jennifer DeHart, an Environmental Science professor who died in 2010 after a five-year battle with cancer.

The dinner was preceded by a market on campus. The band Salmon Frank provided an enthusiastic soundtrack while vendors set up at tables, selling their produce straight to shoppers. Other activities included a game of cornhole, a stationary bike that generates electricity, and table where Nancy Schultz sells flowers.

To get the dinner started in Schultz Banquet Hall, diners were greeted by three coffee dispensers that read “Decaf,” “Outdoorsy Sumatra,” and “Royal Ethiopian.” Happy Mug Coffee, based in Edinboro, roasts 1,000 pounds of coffee a week and sells it just hours after it’s roasted.

Emmett Barr ’17, an Allegheny alumnus, was one of the employees representing the business at the market. “We roast the coffee the same day it’s bought. We get orders in the morning, and roast to fill those orders so people are getting the freshest possible coffee,” he says.

The coffee begins at a farm, which can be located anywhere from Hawaii to Nicaragua to Ethiopia. “It changes hands around four times by the time it gets to us. [The farmers] take it to a mill, they sell it to exporters, exporters sell it to importers, importers sell it to us,” Barr says.

Happy Mug Coffee does not use its exotic, specialty sources as an excuse to skimp on other industry measures. Their coffee is fair-trade and organic, a standard nurtured and built by having a good relationship with the distributors.

“We trust the importers to get a story, find a farm, so we can tell people buying our coffee that it’s sustainable and from reputable exporters, exporters who are fair to the farms,” says Barr.

Happy Mug’s commitment to a higher standard has paid dividends: business is booming.

“We get all our coffee on 1,500-pound pallets,” Barr says. “We get it shipped to us from all across the country. From California, from Minnesota, from New York, it all comes into Edinboro, Pennsylvania. The farmers are making 50 cents a pound, and we’re paying around $5 a pound. By the time it’s roasted, it’s about $11 a pound, and that is way under industry standard right now.” The seven-employee business (four of whom are Allegheny alumni) were in the middle of a big week. “We just got 10,000 pounds on Monday and Tuesday,” says Barr.

Next on the menu was kale salad with Asian pears, dried strawberries, and mint.

The kale was deep green and glistening in the light of Schultz Hall thanks to a splash of dressing. The fruit was liberally scattered within. The Carr Hall Garden, Devenport Fruit Farm, and Heagy’s Orchard provided the fruit, and the kale was sourced by Jim and Robin Coxson and their Strawberry Lane produce farms. Besides a greenhouse to protect their more temperamental produce, the Coxsons have an array of 30-inch beds, 35 feet long.

The kale grows side by side with lettuce, tomatoes, and other seasonal produce. “Our berries are the winners when it’s their season, but lettuce, miscellaneous greens like kale and spinach, and tomatoes are our top three sellers,” says Jim Coxson. They also grow fennel, which according to Coxson, isn’t grown commonly around this area, so they have a healthy presence in the niche market. From the field, it is harvested, cleaned and sold in markets around Crawford County. Strawberry Lane also provided tomatillos, which were used in salsa at the dinner; hot peppers, which were pickled; and garlic, which was incorporated into spaghetti squash and potato pancakes.

Many couldn’t wait for dessert.

“That was the best pumpkin pie I have ever had,” pronounced Ivy Ryan, ’19, signaling an important moment in her quest for the supreme pie. The pie was the centerpiece of the dessert table — a bold claim, considering it was rivaling discs of flan and maple ice cream. “It’s a small-scale farm,” says Garrett Gleeson ’12, who grew the source produce, “I grow about an acre, an acre and a half of vegetables.”

Gleeson’s path from Allegheny student to local farmer began with the natural sciences. “I wanted to be more of a doctor or research scientist, but I actually didn’t get into my first lab choice, I ended up … studying plant microbes. So that was the first step in becoming a farmer. And then, the same thing happened in grad school. I wanted to do more research in the medical field, and I ended up in a forest pathology lab. From that point on, I realized I liked working with plants in general, and that kind of led me here.

“Really, my farm is all about sustainability and diversity,” says Gleeson. “A part of that is crop rotation and the more crops you have, the easier it is to rotate crops … I grow over 100 different varieties of vegetables.” His specialty product provided for the dinner were pie pumpkins. “They have a higher sugar content. If you tried to make a jack-o-lantern out of them, they would rot in a week,” says Gleeson, who works a second job to support himself and his farm.

The Dehart Dinner has become a fixture on campus — and a positive force for sustainability.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research