Environmental Science Newsletter Volume 2 Issue 5

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Allegheny Senior Jonah Raether Wins Fellowship to Study at Clark University

Allegheny College senior Jonah Raether has been awarded the Henry J. and Erna D. Leir Fellowship to fully fund his Master of Health Science degree in community and global health at Clark University in Massachusetts.

Jonah Raether will pursue graduate studies at Clark University in Massachusetts.

Graduating from Allegheny with majors in environmental studies and global health studies, Raether will begin the highly competitive graduate program in the fall of 2018. The fellowship will allow Raether to mentor other incoming students, serve as a program ambassador at national and international conferences, and participate in the Urban Healthscapes Collaboratory.

“I visited Clark for a graduate student open house in October,” says Raether. “I was intrigued by the opportunity it would give me to serve as a representative for the Community and Global Health program, while also working closely with both the university and the City of Worcester to tackle key health issues locally.”

Raether will be among the more than 350 graduates honored at Allegheny’s Commencement on May 12.

While at Allegheny, Raether learned valuable lessons from his classes and professors, as well as his involvement with groups on campus, such as the Outing Club and the Bonner program, he says.

“Allegheny has taught me the importance of interdisciplinary classes and working with students and faculty from a range of academic backgrounds,” said Raether. “The Master of Health Science Program at Clark works on a similar model, so I feel ready to tackle that challenge. Both the Environmental Science and Global Health Studies Departments at Allegheny have a model that teaches students to not only do work and research well, but also how to talk about that work effectively and present the material confidently — skills that I think will be very valuable in the graduate program.”

“This fellowship is a well-deserved honor and a recognition of Jonah’s extraordinary ability to analyze and tackle complex global challenges with an informed perspective, critical foresight, and outstanding character,” says Assistant Professor of Environmental Science Benjamin Haywood, one of Raether’s academic advisors. “Jonah has engaged fully in the plethora of opportunities available to Allegheny students over his four years, excelling in a wide range of classes across disciplines, fusing his studies via independent research and study-away experiences, integrating himself in the Meadville community, and assuming leadership within student organizations,” Haywood notes.

Even though Raether has focused much of his time in the environmental studies and global health studies programs, it was initially the Bonner program that brought him to Allegheny.

“It helped make Allegheny affordable and made my decision to come here pretty easy,” says Raether. “Being a Bonner meant that I was engaged in the Meadville community from day one, and through the program I’ve been lucky to build strong relationships with members of both the Meadville and Allegheny communities. Some of my closest friends are a part of the Bonner program as well, and working alongside them has made my time here very memorable.”

As a leader of the Outing Club on campus, Raether’s experience with the group has led to other work with wilderness and environmental interests. “I’ve met people from every corner of Allegheny, and shared terrific outdoor experiences with them,” he says. “Most importantly, the Outing Club has shown me the value of stepping away from campus for even a short while, as a way of decompressing and reminding myself of the things that are really important. The experiences I’ve had through the club have also strengthened my interest in the relationship between human beings and the environments around us.”

Involvement in the Outing Club was also the precursor to Raether’s time with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) through its multi-month wilderness medicine field experience.

“We lived outside for almost three months, exploring parts of the U.S. that not many people get to see, learning and seeing a lot,” Raether recounted. “It was amazing to get out of a classroom for a while and learn in the field with an excellent group of people. I studied emergency medicine in a wilderness setting, which provided a deeper context to my interest in inaccessibility and inequity of healthcare. The most valuable thing I took from my time with NOLS was the training I got as an Emergency Medical Technician. Since returning, I have worked part-time as an EMT at Meadville Area Ambulance Service.”

After graduating from Allegheny, Raether’s pursuit of his master’s degree will take him further toward what he hopes to focus on — work in the field of natural disaster preparedness and response.

“I’m especially interested in focusing on healthcare access and infrastructure for vulnerable and underrepresented populations in the aftermath of a natural disaster,” Raether says. “Both the fellowship and the master’s program as a whole will encourage me to look at these global issues within a local context. Through the fellowship, I will get the opportunity to work with faculty and community partners to try and find solutions for health issues and disparities — experiences that will hopefully act as the groundwork for future employment or research.”

Haywood is confident that Raether is well-prepared for that future. “Jonah has capitalized on the value of a liberal arts education and is now poised to become a leader in global health and environmental justice,” Haywood says. “I look forward to seeing how he will utilize his time at Clark to create a more equitable and sustainable world.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny Graduating Senior Will Pursue Environmental Research in the Rocky Mountains

During the summer of 2018, Allegheny College graduating senior Leah Franzluebbers will be working among the high peaks in the Mountain West.

Graduating senior Leah Franzluebbers Will be working at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory. (Photo Credit: Derek Li)

She is looking ahead to her summer job as a research assistant at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Colorado. This will be Franzluebbers’ second summer in Colorado working at the world-renowned high elevation field station.

This year, she will lead the undergraduate research team assisting on a project designed to understand how shifts in the distribution of species associated with climate warming will affect the way an ecosystem functions. The study is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Franzluebbers’ responsibilities will include a mix of lab work, such as running water chemistry and processing caddisfly (aquatic insects) samples, and field work, including helping survey aquatic macroinvertebrate populations in study ponds, setting up and taking down experiments, and collecting insect and water chemistry samples from the study sites.

Professor of Biology and Environmental Science Scott Wissinger will help to oversee Franzluebbers’ work in Colorado. He also served as a faculty co-advisor for her Senior Comprehensive Project at Allegheny. “Her senior project in political science and environmental science focuses on how moral foundations theory might provide insight into finding common ground between the political left and right on environmental issues such as climate change,” Wissinger says.

“In addition to her interests in understanding the human part of the sustainability question, she is fascinated with understanding how natural systems work, which is the other side of the equation,” Wissinger says. “For example, it helps to understand how the machinery of nature works so if we need to fix it — goals of restoration and conservation ecology — or make sustainable the services nature provides — clean air, water, and food — we understand how the machinery works.

Franzluebbers will be among the more than 350 graduates receiving diplomas at Allegheny’s Commencement on May 12. She has double-majored in environmental science and political science, all while managing to play Division III women’s volleyball for four years and devote hundreds of hours to community service.

A circuitous — but fulfilling — path

It took Franzluebbers a couple of years at Allegheny to settle on her unusual combination of studies, however.

“I took a circuitous route to get to where I am today,” says Franzluebbers, who is from Wethersfield, Connecticut. “When I declared my major sophomore year, I was a biology major and a political science and German double minor. At a certain point, I realized that I wasn’t satisfied with just a minor in political science, and that I wanted to pursue a major in it. My time at Allegheny has been following my interests wherever they took me, and I am incredibly thankful that it has worked out so well.”

In early April, Franzluebbers presented her senior project at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference in Chicago. “My research focused on finding the right way to reframe the argument for climate action in order to appeal to a broader audience,” she says. “The project merged my interests in political science and environmental science, and the conference was a great opportunity to gain experience presenting research to others and to see professional political science research.”

Franzluebbers also spent a year as a Center for Political Participation Fellow at Allegheny. “College students today are more politically engaged and knowledgeable than they have been in decades, and through our programming, the CPP gives students ample opportunity to engage in topics of local, national and international relevance,” she says.

Being a student-athlete helped her academically, Franzluebbers adds. “During the season, my schedule was essentially the same five days a week: class, work, practice, and then homework. This often helped because it provided a structure that cultivated good academic habits. Being an athlete also teaches the relentless pursuit of a goal — that it takes practice, planning, and conscientious work to achieve anything truly worthwhile.”

Franzluebbers is a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, including a year as its scholarship director. She also joined numerous honor societies, including Pi Sigma Alpha (political science) and Phi Sigma Iota (foreign language). In May, she will be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society.

Commitment to the community

Franzluebbers is proud of her four years of community service with E=MC2, a STEM-education program for Crawford County elementary school pupils. “I originally volunteered because friends of mine were also volunteering, but I soon volunteered more consistently and became the lead coordinator in my senior year,” she says. “Along with administrative duties, I help develop and teach the weekly lessons. The lessons engage the students, getting them excited about science while teaching them key scientific principles.”

One event that stands out in Franzluebbers’ Allegheny experience, she says, was the Battle for Bridget women’s volleyball match in October 2016. At the event, the team raised money for the Meadville Medical Center’s Yolanda Barco Oncology Center in honor of Coach Bridget Sheehan, who died in October 2017.

“Allegheny volleyball alumnae from all over came back to support Coach,” Franzluebbers recalls. “After the game we spent time with alumnae talking about lessons we learned from Coach Sheehan and swapping stories about preseason conditioning and long bus rides to games. It was a wonderful reminder that the community of Allegheny volleyball never leaves you and extends beyond the women you played volleyball with for four years.”

Her overall time at Allegheny also will be memorable, Franzluebbers says.

“I decided to come to Allegheny because I saw how the students here were not solely focused on academics, but on every aspect of their lives,” she says. “They were committed to excellence not only in the classroom, but also in extracurricular activities, in athletics, and in service. Students here are dedicated to cultivating their whole person, not just to getting the best grades — a quality unique to Allegheny compared with some of the other colleges I had considered.”

Franzluebbers’ advice to incoming first-year students: “Take every opportunity you can get to pursue what excites you, whether that be classes, clubs, or internships. Be relentless in your pursuit of your passions.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

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

Environmental Science Newsletter Volume 2 Issue 3

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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

Environmental Science Newsletter Volume 2 Issue 2

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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

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