"The senior thesis is the capstone experience for all students studying biology and chemistry at LSSU," said Prof. Kirkpatrick. "Students choose a topic, design a study, collect and analyze the data, write a scientific paper and present the information to the university community and interested members of the public. Projects typically take an entire year for the students to design and complete, and generally address practical issues of local biological, chemical and environmental concerns."
Senior thesis research is the capstone experience for LSSU students studying the sciences. Under the guidance of faculty mentors, students choose a topic, design a study, collect and analyze the data, write a scientific paper, and present the information to the university community and interested members of the public.
This semester's research topics reflect the eclectic issues that biology students address during their years at LSSU.
"The projects typically take an entire year for the students to design and complete," says Prof. Nancy Kirkpatrick, the Biology department's senior thesis coordinator. "They generally address practical issues of local biological and environmental concerns. The senior thesis experience is one aspect of LSSU that greatly sets it apart from other undergraduate programs in the country."
Matt Pumfery of Twin Lake, Mich., analyzed double-crested cormorant diets in Brevort Lake, a large lake in Michigan's Eastern Upper Peninsula. His three-year study suggests, at least in the springtime, the birds consume large numbers of sport fishes. More than two-thirds of the stomach content found in 242 cormorants was composed of yellow perch.
Kevin Moore of West Branch, Mich., looked for a reason why North American reeds, which have been around for 40,000 years, are being edged out by a Eurasian variety introduced about 150 years ago. Both reeds produce an acid that keeps rivals in check, but Eurasian reeds secrete eight times more acid than domestic varieties. This may be why Eurasian reeds are expanding throughout wetlands and threatening biodiversity.
Diana Cryderman of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., set out to see if two aquatic invertebrates commonly found in ecosystems can discern, and therefore perhaps avoid eating, a pesticide used to control the Asian longhorned beetle. The insecticide actually decreased invertebrate eating habits, which may cause negative effects on stream ecosystems.
Frank Zomer of Reed City, Mich., studied the differences in how algae, macroinvertebrates, and fish use log cribs in a lake south of Munising, Mich. His results show that cribs that are seven years old host more invertebrates such as Chironomidae and Ceratopogonidae than do younger cribs.
Edward Shaw of Clarkston, Mich., has figured out when fish migrate from the St. Mary's River rapids to spawn and at what water temperature. He finds that salmon leave the rapids between May and June, when water temperature reaches 20° C. Sunfish and suckers migrate from spring through summer, with a jump in activity at around 10° C.
Kathryn Harriger of Gaylord, Mich., studied how density and age of mussels varied with a stream's water quality, velocity, depth, and presence of woody debris, vegetation and sediment. The density of the mussel species was affected by sediment size, and the presence of vegetation and woody debris.
Jessica Rutyna of Fraser, Mich., derived a habitat suitability index that should help managers decide what resources sustain eastern wild turkeys in the northern Great Lakes region. Her model rolls such variables as temperature, hardwood and conifer data, along with snow depth and duration, into an index that ranges from zero (poor) to 1.0 (excellent).
Jennifer Allemang's (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) study in the Ontario Forest Research Institute's greenhouse monitored growth rates of white pine seedlings that were suddenly exposed to direct sunlight. Her aim was to yield insight into how different modes of tree harvesting affect the growth rate of white pine.
Jonathan R. Behring of Hillman, Mich., found small amounts of Cryptosporium and Giardia - but more than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends - at five different sampling sites along the north shore of Sugar Island, near Sault Ste. Marie, with increased concentrations of the waterborne pathogens downstream.
For more of this article click here.
LSSU hosts numerous research and outreach programs, including the Resource Office for the Binational Public Advisory Council for the St Marys River Area of Concern and the Eastern UP Groundwater Stewardship Office.
LSSU faculty supervise bird banding and piping plover monitoring projects at Vermilion Station, a remote research station on Lake Superior.