Elijah Gleason ’12 is spending the summer conducting research under the direction of Susan Flanders Cushman ’98, Director of Introductory Biology Labs and Research Scientist at the Finger Lakes Institute .
Gleason, a double major in biology and environmental studies, is studying the biology of streams within the Seneca Lake watershed in an effort to determine water quality and the overall health of the systems. In the past, data has been collected on the water chemistry of the streams, and this project will draw more attention to stream communities.
“The complexity of a stream community is fantastic – especially when you realize that it all takes place just a few meters of stream,” remarks Gleason.
To gather data, Gleason and Cushman are collecting macroinvertebrate samples from 11 streams on the east and west sides of the lake. They are also conducting an electro-fishing survey in a 75-meter stretch of each stream to help assess stream health. So far, Gleason has spent a fair amount of time in the lab sorting and identifying the macroinvertebrate samples that have been collected. This involves sorting out 100 macroinvertebrates and identifying them down to family.
“It has been wonderful to work with Eli this summer,” says Cushman. “He’s quite keen and intuitive in the field.”
Working with Cushman is a highlight for Gleason. “The experience and expertise that Professor Cushman brings to the field is amazing,” explains Gleason. “It’s nice to get to know a professor outside of the classroom. You get a better sense of what it takes to be a scientist. This summer has been filled with new and unique experiences that have been exciting.”
Gleason is enrolled in the Master of Arts in Teaching program. He serves as an Eco Representative, Co-President of Campus Greens and participated in the alternative spring break trip to New Orleans, La.