Highlighted Research in Sustainability

Students conducting field work on shoreline.

Advancing Sustainability Locally & Globally

Painted Turtle Nest Site Selection:
For the last five years Dickinson students have conducted field research with biology Professor Scott Boback on the ecological and environmental influences of nest-site selection in the Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta). Students have marked over 1,000 turtles in a 7 acre pond at a local hatchery. Because painted turtles are highly susceptible to global temperature changes, understanding parameters of nest selections and hatchling sex and survival is critical to the future of this species.

Ocean Acidification:
Dickinson students Christopher Mealey '13, Hannah Leahey '12 and Kelly Maers '11 researched and published a paper in PLoS ONE with biology Professor Tom Arnold on the effects of ocean acidification on seagrasses in the Chesapeake and Mediterranean. Another group of students conducted research with Professor Arnold on ocean acidification effects on marine systems of Moreton Bay, Australia.

Negotiating the Future of the Planet:
Eleven Dickinson students, Earth science Professor Jeff Niemitz, and CSE Director Neil Leary conducted video interview research at the UN climate conference (COP17) held in Durban, South Africa in December 2011. Fifteen students will head to Lima, Peru for COP20 on a similar mosaic program in December 2014. Videos of the interviews can be viewed in our Interview Archive and the student's stories told through the Student Blog.

Nanoparticles and Green Chemistry:
Katelyn Cohen '12 and Jun Jiang '12 worked with chemistry Professor Sarah St. Angelo to test green chemistry processes for synthesizing nanoparticles with lemongrass and ginko extracts as reducing agents. Green chemistry reduces the use of toxic agents and volumes of waste generated.

Organic Pest Control:
Scott Hoffman ’12, working with biology Professors Carol Loeffler and Scott Boback, set up hubs to test a method of organic pest control at the farm. The hubs consist of a small pond to provide breeding sites for pest-eating American Toads and native flowering plants to attract beneficial insects.

Worm Compost & Potting Soil:
Anna Farb ’12 worked with farm manager Jenn Halpin and biology Professor John Henson to test the performance of mixtures of vermicompost (worm compost), peat moss, vermiculite and coir (a byproduct from coconuts) as a potting soil for starting vegetable plants for the farm.

Biogas Burrito:
Evan Kendall ’12 developed and constructed a pilot biogas system, aka burrito, for converting animal manure and food waste into biogas fuel. Evan was guided by assistant farm manager Matt Steiman and consultant Bob Hamburg.

Solar Wheeler:
Named for it’s co-creator Sam Wheeler ’10, this former electric golf cart was converted to be powered by solar photovoltaic panels by Sam and assistant farm manager Matt Steiman. It is now used as a farm utility vehicle to transport tools and materials at the Dickinson Organic Farm.