Roughly 50 students and faculty attended todays Environmental Science Oral Presentation Session held in the Moseley Centers McKinnon E conference room.
One of many sessions held under the Student Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF) program, the event was moderated by senior Cassidy Levy, and was sponsored by Dr. Amanda Chunco, assistant professor of environmental studies.
Coming from different schools within the university, some without any Environmental Studies course work, as was the case with senior Margaret Bryant and junior Caitlin O’Connell, the undergraduate researchers presented their findings to a particularly interested and involved audience.
Senior Jennifer Archis, whose research was supported by Dr. Amanda Chunco, led off the presentations, describing her findings about the increased range of the Eastern Coral Snake, Micrurus Fulvius.
Considered in many ways a difficult species to study, particularly due to its shy nature, Archis used the data of others in conjunction with software called Maxent to predict the future distributions of Micrurus Fulvius.
Because Micrurus Fulvius is an ectotherm, a species that is unable to regulate its own body temperature, its range can be directly correlated with environmental change.
For instance, mere pockets of North Carolina currently support Micrurus Fulvius populations, as opposed to vast plots by the year 2070 because of environmental change as predicted by Maxent.
Bryant and O’Connell followed, sharing the science of portable beehives and the importance of honeybee education.
They shared the statistic that two-in-three human consumed crops are pollinated by honeybees, which should spark mass concern for the recent disappearance of many populations.
The two have since written a manual on portable beehives, and were able to bring one to their presentation, a highlight for those in attendance.
Professor Steve Moore, lecturer in environmental studies, sponsored their research.
Next, Brittany DiRienzo presented her findings from research in the Elon University Forest as it pertains to “old growth forests” and “forests of continuity”.
Because of its fairly recent repurposing as a forest for study, many plots have failed to reach full maturation, which takes upwards of 150 years to achieve. Because of this, students like DiRienzo are able to study plots with varying degrees of maturity and compare their biology.
Dr. David Vandermast, associate professor of biology, sponsored her research.
Vandermast also supported the work of the following presenter, senior Sarah Gilley.
Gilley also studied in the Elon University Forest, but unlike DiRienzo, she focused her studies on carbon sequestration and the subsequent changes in “aboveground tree biomass”.
Finally, Senior Liz Van Hise, with support from Professor Michael Strickland, lecturer in English and environmental studies, presented her children’s book series, “Ferry the Falcon.”
Van Hise’s goal in creating the series was to inspire younger generations to be environmentally conscious.
Presenters fielded questions from audience members after the close of Van Hise’s presentation.