Senior Melissa Balk honored for Best Student Presentation – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Senior Melissa Balk honored for Best Student Presentation

Melissa Balk ’08 was awarded the 2007 Best Student Presentation in recognition of her commendable verbal communication of her research objectives, processes and conclusions at the recent third Finger Lakes Research Conference.

This annual gathering, on Oct. 6 in the Melly Academic Center, highlights all aspects of Finger Lakes regional scientific research, providing an opportunity to share scientific information on environmental science and scholarship. Oral presentations and poster displays addressed several of the issues related to the Finger Lakes of Western and Central New York.

Balk, majoring in biology and minoring in environmental studies, presented “The Potential Link Between Lake Productivity and an Invasive Zooplankton In Owasco Lake. Because fishook waterfleas eat other plankton and are not easily consumed by other plankton or fish, examining their ecological role in the aquatic food web may reveal explanations of the changing productivity of Owasco Lake.

Balk explained the ecological value of carnivorous plankton communities, referenced her research procedures, and concluded with strong evidence that fishhook waterflea may be affecting the quality of the water in Owasco Lake.

Balk conducted her research as a participant in Hobart and William Smith Colleges summer science research program as part of a comprehensive study by the Finger Lakes Institute on the declining water quality in Owasco Lake. The project was funded by a state grant secured through Sen. Michael F. Nozzolio.

Balk worked under Assistant Professor of Biology Meghan Brown, who is investigating the plankton as part of the Owasco Lake Research Project, which included collecting and analyzing samples from selected lake sites.

A recipient of a Hobart and William Smith Colleges Faculty Scholarship, Balk hopes to pursue a career in dentistry. She is member of the Health Professions Club, Campus Greens, and the WS rugby team and volunteers in the community.

Brown’s research team’s work will be published in an upcoming issue of Aquatic Invasions, a journal that focuses on the spread, effects and control of aquatic invasive species, and will become part of a report on the lake’s water quality as part of the Institute’s research project in early 2008.

A poster on Balk’s work was on display on the second floor of Rosenberg Hall as part of the Parents and Family Weekend poster session. The day-long conference was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation of New York City.