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Student Projects

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EHS students are required to complete a yearlong Capstone Project studying one of the many areas in Environmental Health Science. Recent student projects include:

  • Risk Associated With Drinking Bottled vs. Tap Water
  • Indoor Air Pollutants from Air Fresheners
  • Airborne Exposure and Health Effects Associated with Indoor Turf Fields
  • "Self-Pollution" in School Buses by Diesel Particulate

An Analysis of Carbon Sequestration on Clarkson University’s Campus
Brittany Guarna, (Mentor – Dr. Susan Powers)
                                   snow treeclarkson

Clarkson University has a very unique campus, with over 500 acres of forested area on its campus, including the Clarkson Woods, Seven Springs, the Hamlin-Powers (HP) trail forest, the Raquette River waterfront property, and many individual trees planted throughout campus.  Clarkson also participates in planting projects.  This project aims to place quantitative value on Clarkson’s forested regions based on the amount of carbon that is stored and sequestered annually by these forested regions.  According to Clarkson’s greenhouse gas inventory report for 2010, the university emitted over 20,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. The sequestration of carbon in trees can help to offset Clarkson’s greenhouse gas footprint. 

Validation of Air Sampling Canisters for Collection of VOC's Using a Newly Designed Capillary Flow Controller
Dana Stevens (Mentor – Dr. Alan Rossner)

                                         evacuated canisters

Volatile organic compounds (VOC) are chemicals that vaporize when exposed to air; Organic chemical compounds whose composition makes it possible for them to evaporate under normal indoor atmospheric conditions of temperature and pressure.   VOC’s are everywhere within our working and living environment and cause a number of adverse health effects in people.    Many household products: cleaning/disinfecting supplies, cosmetics/perfumes, air fresheners, paints and lacquers as well as office supplies: copiers and printers, glues and adhesives, permanent markers contain VOC.  The aim of this research was to evaluate a new method to air sample for VOCs.  Using evacuated canisters we evaluated a variety of chemicals to assess the performance of this new air sampling system.    It was found to be a more effective method to measure low levels of VOC in community and workplace environments. 

Avian Diversity of Restored and Natural Wetlands in the St. Lawrence Valley of New York.
Laura Barlow  (Mentor – Dr. Tom Langen and Catherine Benson)

Government agencies and non-profit organizations use wetland restoration as a conservation tool to compensate for past and present losses of wetland habitats in the U.S. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (PFWP) and U.S. Department of Agriculture National Resource Conservation Service Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) provide incentives to private landowners to restore and protect wetland habitats.  One criticism of these program are that wetland restorations are generally not monitored  after their completion and little is known regarding how well restorations function as compared to naturally occurring wetlands.  Bird surveys were conducted twice in the month of June (2009-2011) using point counts and playback vocalizations for marshbirds; we measured bird species richness and calculated a wetland-rank index (WRI) based on the wetland-relatedness of the community.

Rock Climbing Effects on Cliff Ecosystems
Hillary Clifton (Mentor – Dr. Tom Langen)

Due to their inaccessibility, cliff ecosystems have stayed relatively untouched compared to their surrounding habitats.  This has made it possible for rare and fragile vegetation to thrive in these areas.  However, the increased popularity in outdoor recreational sports, mainly rock climbing, over the past 30 years has created a concern for its environmental impacts.  This study examined the impacts of low frequency rock climbing over four months on moss and lichen on the face and top of climbed cliffs as well as on the leaf litter at the base of the cliffs.  The results of the leaf litter masses at the climbed cliffs were compared to that of leaf litter samples of similar unclimbed cliffs.  The study showed that even with little climbing, significant disturbances to cliff vegetation occurred.  These findings agree with previous research relating to cliff ecosystems and cliff impacts. 

Determining Factors Affecting Elephant Migratory Patterns at Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. Vinita Eswar  (Mentor – Dr. Tom Langen)  
                         el1  el2

What determines elephant migratory patterns at Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda? Do elephants migrate more depending on climate (particularly rainfall patterns) OR do elephants migrate depending on the flow of tourists during peak and off peak seasons at the park?  Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) is one of the most-visited game reserves in Uganda. The park was named after Queen Elizabeth II and was established in 1954. The park is located in southwest Uganda, containing several districts, these districts include Kasese, Kamwenge, Bushenyi and Rukungiri. It is located is approximately 243 miles by road, southwest of Kampala, the capital of Uganda.  We studied the factors that may influence the migratory behavior of elephants.

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