Environmental Studies Independent Research and Study Papers

Environmental Studies and Science Majors engage in a variety of types of research. The projects listed here are 1 or 2 semester independent study or independent research projects that are conducted under the guidance of a faculty advisor and follow the department *guidelines* for research. To request access to a hard copy or pdf version of the papers associated with these projects, please contact the Environmental Studies Technician by emailing boeffk@dickinson.edu.  Independent Research Papers are also available through the Dickinson College Library.

Previous Projects

Tabea K. Zimmermann, "Reconstructing the Effects of Multiple Stressors on Algal Communities in Lakes with Differing Concentrations of Dissolved Organic Carbon" 

Inland waters are particularly sensitive to environmental changes and a growing body of research points to lakes as sentinels, integrators and regulators of large-scale stressors such as climate change (Carpenter et al. 2007, Pham et al. 2008, Williamson et al. 2008, Adrian et al. 2009). As low points in the landscape, inland waters receive and process inputs from the surrounding terrestrial environment and atmosphere and respond quickly to changes in precipitation, wind and solar irradiance (Williamson et al. 2009). The reactions of these sensitive ecosystems to landscape and climatic changes are stored in lake sediments, which serve as archives to aquatic and terrestrial-ecosystem response to changing conditions in the past (Williamson et al. 2009).

Alexandra Raczka, "Privilege and the Food Environment in Carlisle, Pennsylvania"

This study looks at the food environment of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. It is specifically focused on food access and food preferences, and the relationships between a person’s educational background, household income and geographic location and what they choose to eat based on what they have access to. 

Anna E. McGinn, "Quantifying and Understanding Ecological Literacy, A study of first-year students and liberal arts institutions"

Ecological literacy measures a person’s knowledge of ecological systems, care for their immediate and global environment and level of action to reduce his or her personal and communal impact on the environment. This study investigates the level of ecological literacy of first-year students who entered seven liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania in the fall of 2013. The institutions included in the study are Allegheny College, Bryn Mawr College, Bucknell University, Dickinson College, Gettysburg College, Haverford College and Swarthmore College. 426 students were surveyed during their first three months of college, and the data was processed to quantify the number of students who are ecologically literate and to examine the potential triggers for and pathways toward ecological literacy. The study shows that 58 percent of students have some level of ecological literacy while the remaining students are ecologically illiterate. In addition to questions that tested for ecological literacy, the survey collected demographic information and gauged a student’s level of exposure to nature. This study does not find that these factors are predictors of a person’s level of ecological literacy. Between the three sections of ecological literacy, a student’s level of care does correlate with a student’s level of action, but neither action nor caring correlate with knowledge. The aim of this research is to support schools in better catering their sustainability efforts towards students with low levels of ecological literacy, so all students who reach the undergraduate level of education will leave the educational system with a basic understanding of the major environmental issues facing today’s world, a feeling of responsibility to address these challenges and the competencies to contribute positively toward building a more sustainable society.

Taylor Wilmot, "Community Engagement and Perceptions of Brownfield Redevelopment in Carlisle, PA"

The reuse of environmentally contaminated properties can present the opportunity for community revitalization in neighborhoods, towns and cities across the United States. From urban to rural regions, people are impacted by abandoned properties that have real or perceived contamination. The town of Carlisle, Pa., is currently undergoing steps for remediation and redevelopment of three former industrial factories. This study provides an in-depth exploration of one brownfield site included in the current redevelopment plan for Carlisle. This brownfield is a former tire manufacturing facility, previously owned by the Tire & Wheel Company, and is located in the middle of a residential area. As is common for brownfield sites, these former factory properties are located around low income communities and communities of color. Planning for the future of this brownfield site can involve decision-making that requires input from diverse community stakeholders. To facilitate genuine participation among residents and other stakeholders, it is critical to understand the limitations and possibilities of community participation. Identifying stakeholder perceptions within the local community that can impact public participation is vital to conducting participation with the goal of community revitalization. The perceptions of public participation, perceptions of the brownfield property and perceptions that stakeholders have of each other are the main components in this case study that impact the ability for public participation to include a representative sampling of the community and address community needs. The impacts of perceptions were found to be significant on the results of public participation related to brownfield redevelopment in Carlisle, Pa. Common community perceptions need to be understood and acknowledged in order for residents to engage in the redevelopment process.

Angelo Lan, "Evaluation of land-use change impact on stream flow in Monocacy Creek, Northampton, PA"

The research is to study the pattern of land-use change in Monocacy Creek watershed throughout a period of 50 years and assess its potential impact on the water quantity of monocacy creek using GIS modeling.

Katie Tomsho, "Perspectives of citizens impacted by Marcellus Shale natural-gas drilling"

The intent of this study is to produce a documentary focused on the different perspectives and attitudes of Pennsylvania citizens impacted by Marcellus Shale natural-gas drilling through their involvement in grassroots organizations. The regions of focus will be Wayne County in the North Eastern corner of the state and Greene County in the South Western corner. The difference in the positions taken by the organizations in these counties will demonstrate the wide range of opinions concerning natural-gas drilling.

Anna Farb, "Effects of vermicompost in potting soils and extract foliar sprays on plant health and productivity"

This study aims to assess how vermicompost liquid extract affects the growth and health of produce, such as romaine lettuce and pak choi, and to evaluate the use of vermicompost and compost in potting soil. The farm plans to produce its own potting soil with its vermicompost/compost produced onsite, so we will determine the most efficient (in terms of crop production), economical and sustainable potting soil mixture.  

Additional research projects will be posted to this site in the near future. For more information please e-mail boeffk@dickinson.edu.