In science, synergy is often a guiding principle. At Hobart and William Smith Colleges, four science faculty members in three different departments are capitalizing on this concept. With a $418,430 grant from the National Science Foundation’ s Major Research Instrumentation Program, Meghan Brown (Biology), Tara Curtin (Geoscience), Neil Laird (Geoscience) and Stina Bridgeman (Computer Science) are collaborating on an interdisciplinary study of our very own Seneca Lake.
The grant monies are being used to purchase state-of-the-art instrumentation to create a network of seven sites in northern Seneca Lake. This instrument network will be used to investigate the reproduction of the non-native fish hook water flea in concert with meteorological conditions, internal lake circulations, and sedimentation processes. Each of the four faculty members will bring their expertise to the investigation.
“This study will bridge together the disciplines of ecology, limnology, meteorology, and computer science to better understand the establishment and spread of non-native species,” says Meghan Brown, assistant professor of biology. “Ultimately, through publications, presentations, and meetings with state and federal agencies our work will contribute to preventing the spread and negative impacts of invasive species.”
The funds will also create research opportunities for many students. The professors from each of the three departments will include aspects of the research into their courses, as well as taking on independent study and summer research students. Brown says, “Students will gain hands-on experience with field and laboratory methods, data management, and data analysis and interpretation in a framework of integrated interdisciplinary research.”
The fact that the Colleges received funding from the highly competitive National Science Foundation is impressive. “The fact that we have succeeded in this major competition speaks to the fact that the scientific research being done at HWS is considered some of the very best in the country” says Brown.