News & Updates

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

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

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

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’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