Allegheny Senior Awarded Grant for Environmental Research


Allegheny College senior Alexandrea Rice has been awarded a Davey Foundation Annual Arbor Grant for her work in eco-friendly research. Rice is an environmental science major, with a focus in forest and soil science, and a geology minor.

“The award is a testament to Alex’s work as an undergraduate in (Professor) Rich Bowden’s lab on a green-industry approach to forestry and arboriculture,” says Scott Wissinger, chair of Allegheny’s Environmental Science Department.

The Davey Tree Expert Co. provides the grants yearly to about 50 college-enrolled students who focus on forestry, agriculture or another green industry. Over the past 25 years, the Davey Foundation has provided more than $500,000 of support to students for their academic work.

Rice says the $1,000 grant has allowed her to be more focused on her studies without having to take time away for a job. She is currently developing her senior comprehensive project, which investigates how acid rain affects soil’s ability to retain important forest nutrients. Bowden, her advisor, says Rice has been highly independent, praising how she “has been industrious in gathering her field soil samples and performing soil extractions.”

Rice has participated in projects outside of Allegheny as well, such as spending a semester at the Ecosystems Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and working as a research assistant in Alaska in the summer of 2016. She also has worked on an independent research project looking into changes in fungal communities in response to nitrogen deposition, both at the Harvard Forest and Allegheny’s Bousson Experimental Forest.

“She is passionate about forest ecosystems and has always been among the first to volunteer for fieldwork related to our climate-change studies,” Bowden says. “She brings an inquisitive personality blended with a delightful confidence, sincere humility and spunk.”

After graduation, Rice plans to attend graduate school. But she hopes first to spend the summer of 2017 conducting climate-change research on the effects of permafrost thaw on ecosystem nutrient cycling.

“Out of all the good that a person can do, I think the most a person can contribute is to the knowledge and understanding of the planet so that we can enact ways of prolonging its life,” says Rice, a Pittsburgh resident. “I am in this industry and science not just because I enjoy being outside in the forest, but because I want to educate the world about the importance and critical role that forests play in our lives. By protecting them we are providing a future for our children to grow from.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Senior project research leads to published paper

Mark Kirk ’11, Scott Wissinger, Brandon Goeller ’10, and Leslie Rieck ’09 of the Biology and Environmental Science Departments recently published an article titled “Covarying Impacts of Land Use and Non-native Brown Trout on Fish Communities in Small Streams” in the journal Freshwater Biology. The paper is based on research conducted through senior projects funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Federation. Kirk (lead author) is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in fisheries at the University of Wyoming, Goeller is pursuing a Ph.D. in aquatic ecology at the University of Canterbury, NZ, and Rieck is completing her Ph.D. in fisheries at Ohio State University.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Journal features work of Environmental Science professors, sustainability coordinator

Campus Sustainability Coordinator Kelly Boulton; Eric Pallant, the Christine Scott Nelson Professor of Environmental Sustainability; Beth Choate and Ian Carbone, assistant professors of Environmental Science; and Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Science Casey Wilson published an article in the International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, “Energy challenges: isolating results due to behavior change.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny College Awarded $37,500 Grant to Heat, Power Greenhouse

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Allegheny College has been awarded a $37,500 grant to power and heat a small-scale greenhouse using energy that would otherwise be wasted.
The E 2 Energy to Educate grant from Constellation, an Exelon company, is part of $380,000 the company awarded to 17 projects reaching more than 35,000 students, grade six through college, in 10 states. Grant funds support projects “designed to enhance students’ understanding of science and technology, and inspire them to think differently about energy.”
“The financial and institutional support provided by one of the leading energy companies in the United States will allow the environmental science department to construct a cutting-edge greenhouse at the vital juncture of sustainable energy and sustainable agriculture,” said Eric Pallant, the Christine Scott Nelson Professor of Environmental Sustainability at Allegheny College.

The greenhouse, to be built in the middle of Allegheny’s Carr Hall garden, will use innovative heating and photovoltaic systems to maintain a microclimate within the greenhouse for year-round food production, said Assistant Professor of Environmental Science Ian Carbone. The roof of the greenhouse will be composed of luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs), a novel photovoltaic technology that can generate electricity from “wasted” light. The panels capture and convert unusable wavelengths into electricity while allowing photosynthetically active light to reach the plants below. Waste vegetable oil recovered from campus dining facilities will power a heating system.
Students will be able to monitor and assess energy consumption in a state-of- the-art facility that will benefit the campus and community at large.
“The greenhouse will not only extend the growing season, helping meet campus food needs, but also teach thousands of students, visitors and community members about energy resources derived from recoverable waste,” said Kelly Boulton, the college’s sustainability coordinator.
Construction of the greenhouse is slated to start in May.
Since its inception in 2010, Constellation’s Energy to Educate grants program has provided more than $2.6 million in funding for 85 student projects that have enhanced the understanding of energy-related science and technology issues.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 3

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Environmental science, biology students and faculty present research

The following students and faculty in the Environmental Science and Biology departments presented research talks at the 12th annual Regional Science Consortium Research Symposium, Nov. 2-6, at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle State Park in Erie.

  • Erica Moretti and Beth ChoateWild bee assemblages along a land-use gradient
  • Paige Hickman and Beth Choate – Investigating the effect of floral diversity on native bees in Meadville, PA
  • Zachary Gribik and Kristen Webb Developing an eDNA system to detect and monitor the spread of the invasive round goby in the waterways of Northwestern Pennsylvania
  • Hannah Eiseman, Allyson Wood, Casey Bradshaw-Wilson, Determining presence and effects of round gobies in the French Creek Watershed on native benthic fishes.
  • Liana Leja and Scott WissingerSeparate vs. combined effects of snails, tadpoles, and caddisflies on detritus decomposition in montane kettle ponds.
  • Liana Leja was awarded the best student talk at the symposium from among students from Mercyhurst, Gannon, Penn State Behrend, Penn State Main campus, SUNY Fredonia, Slippery Rock, and Grove City.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Students Eisemann, Wood present research

Senior environmental science major Hannah Eisemann and sophomore Allyson Wood presented their summer research conducted with Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Science Casey Bradshaw-Wilson at the Regional Science Consortium’s Annual Research Symposium on Nov. 3. Their presentation was titled “Determining the Presence and Effects of Round Gobies (Neogobius melanostomus) in the French Creek Watershed on Native Benthic Fishes”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 2

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Boulton, Shipe Named PERC Campus Sustainability Champions


Allegheny College Sustainability Coordinator Kelly Boulton and junior David Shipe recently were named Campus Sustainability Champions of 2016 by the Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium (PERC).

PERC honors select students, administrators, staff and faculty members as Campus Sustainability Champions for their exemplary work toward environmental sustainability efforts within their campuses or greater communities.

With Boulton’s guidance, Allegheny has made significant strides toward its goal of reaching climate neutrality by 2020. The colleges is now 75 percent of the way to achieving that goal.

Boulton has established a green purchasing agreement to ensure that the college buys products (such as paper and cleaning supplies) that meet green standards exclusively. As a result, the college has  completely transitioned to using recycled paper.

Boulton is also chief organizer of the annual October Energy Challenge in which the campus strives to reduce energy consumption. The money saved from the challenge is reinvested in solar panels, filtered water refill stations and other sustainability facilities to help  propel the campus toward  climate neutrality. Boulton’s efforts on campus also include the annual Trashion show, in which students design and showcase fashion statements made of recycled waste, and the bike share program to promote  access to sustainable transportation for students.

Boulton’s larger community efforts include organizing the annual DeHart Local Foods Dinner by reaching out to local farmers, businesses, the campus dining service, and student volunteers and inviting them to participate . She also has a part in managing the college’s forested land.

“I’m honored to be recognized as a PERC Campus Sustainability Champion this year,” Boulton said, “but even more honored to be a daily part of Allegheny’s deliberate, creative and dedicated efforts to consistently improve our institutional sustainability and be part of a resilient community.”

Shipe, of Freeport, Pa., is an ambassador of the sustainable food production effort on campus and in the greater Meadville community. As a student, he’s learned about food production by taking classes such as “Soil to Plate” and attending the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture’s annual Farming for the Future conference.

Last summer, Shipe dedicated his break to leading agricultural projects in the college’s on-campus garden. These projects included harvesting and processing grains.  He has also brought new life to the campus aquaponics system to grow lettuce and house Tilapia fish that are later sold to the on-campus dining service. Beyond those projects, Shipe also helps lead the student-run organization Edible Allegheny Campus, educating and motivating other students who have an interest in food production.

“I’m honored to have been recognized from among such a rich community of sustainability activism here at Allegheny,” Shipe said.

Scott Wissinger, professor of biology and environmental science, praised both the honorees.

“Kelly has been such an integral part of Allegheny’s work towards sustainability that often includes collaborative work with students like Dave,” Wissinger said. “His many contributions exemplify the many ways in which many environmental science students apply their academic, classroom knowledge to on- and off-campus initiatives that make a real difference in minimizing our footprint on the environment.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 1

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