Student Research

Janet Irvine (C'10), Luisa Gomez (C'10), and Heather Magnan (C'10) spent spring break of their senior year at Principia College working on research projects related to leatherbacks. In Trinidad, Irvine calculated how many sea turtle nests were lost to erosion, and Gomez conducted interviews with local fishermen, gleaning opinions about the efficacy of current turtle conservation programs. In Malaysia, Magnan looked at 30 years’ worth of data to determine the value of offshore sea turtle reserves.

Biology and Natural Resources Department professor Chrissy McAllister and senior biology major Jennifer Kidson spent a portion of a summer recently driving 4,300 miles through 11 states, stopping at 23 sampling sites to collect leaves from two types of dominant prairie grasses: big blue stem grass and Indian grass. Their goal was to detect patterns of genetic diversity in the specimens in order to better understand how grassland ecosystems respond to climate change. The student/professor team collected 501 individual leaf samples and 46 voucher specimens—whole, intact plants flattened in a plant press and mounted on display board with their collection information. The voucher specimens will be donated to the Missouri Botanical Garden herbarium where they will be retained as a reference for further scientific study and research.

John Lovseth and Michael Dutton (C'12), an environmental studies major, had a paper published in the March 2012 issue of the forestry newspaper The Forestry Source. They wrote about using geographic information systems in forestry for “visualizing harvests.” 

Steve Bailey (C'12), an environmental studies major, devoted his senior capstone to evaluating the feasibility of refurbishing Eliestoun, an old house on campus that overlooks the bluffs, and running it on solar energy. “I wanted to do something with sustainable energy sources,” Bailey explained. He researched hydro, wind, and solar energy, knowing little about any of the three beforehand. “I had to teach myself and learn a ton in a very short amount of time,” he said, “but it was a really cool road of self-discovery.”

Two students, Brent Bennett and Anna Glotzbach, and professor Chrissy McAllister took a research trip to the University of Guelph in Canada in spring of 2012. Professor McAllister will be presenting the results of this research at a Botanical Society of America national meeting in Ohio.