Environmental research applies the principles of the natural sciences to study human resource utilization and evaluate the options to mitigate impacts to natural ecosystems and resources in topics such as species diversity, point and non-point source pollution, fate and transport of hazardous substances, geological resources, hydrological patterns, and so on. Environmental research and learning draws on the strengths of SUNY Fredonia's programs in biology, chemistry, geosciences, geographic information systems, and environmental science.
In the Air
Current funded research projects are as varied as the interests of the faculty. Michael S. Milligan, Professor of Chemistry, has for years investigated air pollution. His work with air pollution is funded under two grants. 1) The Impact of In- and Out-of -State Power Plants on Semi-volatile Pollutants project is funded under a grant by the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) in collaboration with Clarkson University, monitors samplers at Stockton, NY, and Potsdam, NY. Each sampler is collects and monitors for a number of different pollutant species associated with combustion processes. Laboratory work is done in the SUNY Fredonia and Clarkson University analytical labs. Using meteorological data and statistical analysis of wing back-trajectories, geographical sources of the different pollutant species can be determined. 2) Lake Ontario Air Deposition Study (LOADS), funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is a collaboration among investigators from SUNY Fredonia, SUNY Oswego, and Clarkson University to determine the flux of certain air pollutants into Lake Ontario. Through back-trajectory modeling, researchers will determine the geographical sources of these pollutants. Research has taken place on three sampling cruises on Lake Ontario aboard the EPA research vessel Lake Guardian, as well as at a land-based air monitoring station on the Lake Ontario shore near Oswego, NY. The goal is to develop a model describing and predicting the deposition and volatilization of pollutants from the lake.
Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Sherri Mason, is also researching air pollution with two research projects. Perhaps one of the longest research projects on the campus, Operation of NY 10: The Chautauqua County Monitoring Station of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program continues the operation of the monitoring station of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP). The NADP has over 200 sites spanning the continental United States, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Weekly samples are collected and analyzed. Dr. Mason's second newly $81,513 project is funded through the Great Lakes Air Deposition Program, Modeling Fine Particulate Matter, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, and Mercury over the Great Lakes Airshed Using the Community Multiscale Air Quality Modeling System, will look at the long-range transport of air pollutants such as mercury and compounds of nitrogen and their deposition to the Great Lakes water bodies, causing harm to the ecosystem. Recent measurement programs have been carried out over Lake Ontario as part of the Lake Ontario Air Deposition Study (LOADS). Dr. Mason's study will use these data as a primary assessment tool applying a regional photochemical model, CMAQ, and additional assessment will be conducted based on availability of other monitoring data from networks through the Great Lakes Commission. Such an assessment will provide a mechanism for mitigation measures to improve the lake ecosystem.
In the Water
Just recently, Dr. Milligan was awarded a $325,800 five year research grant, Chemical Analysis of Fish Tissue for the Great Lakes Fish Monitoring Program from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This project, in conjunction with Clarkson University, will provide program management, sample analysis, GLFMP Steering Committee participation, cooperative monitoring program participation, data reporting and interpretation, and methods development for five years. State-of-the-art analytical equipment will be used, providing efficient sample processing and analysis. The Great Lakes Fish Monitoring Program (GLFMP) began in 1980 to monitor fish contaminants in the Great Lakes. The program consists of two separate elements: monitoring contaminant trends in the fish of the Great Lakes, and providing data to assist in evaluating the impacts of contaminants on the fishery and monitoring potential human exposure to contaminants through consumption, as well as providing temporal trend data for top predator species.
Protecting Endangered Species
Jonathan Titus, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology, works with living plants and the preservation of endangered species. His current project, Research on Threatened and Endangered Arizona Plants, focuses on the Huachuca water umbel, a rare semi-aquatic herbaceous perennial. The project is funded through the US Fish and Wildlife Service Grant subaward from the University of Arizona at Tucson. In this study, Dr. Titus initiated the research to increase the understanding of the Huachuca water umbel ecology and habitat requirements to determine if reintroduction efforts are likely to be successful and learn how to best develop and accomplish recovery goals. The species became endangered due to the drying up of wetlands - most likely caused by excessive water use, cattle grazing and a multi-year drought. Dr. Titus, and his wife Priscilla, monitors most of the known population of Huachuca water umbel. Out of six monitored populations, two are no longer in evidence at all above ground. However, the Tituses have introduced the species into a wetland at the Appleton-Whittel Audubon Research Ranch in Arizona and this has been a steady success. At present, two years after the initial planting, more than 50 percent of their introduced plants are flourishing. Last spring, a group of 10 Fredonia students traveled to the ranch to measure their growth as part of the summer Desert Biology class. The results of Dr. Titus' work will aid in the recovery and management of this species, no doubt making an impact to the globe's botanical diversity by saving the Huachuca water umbel, an important indicator of wetland conditions.