Paper No. 8-13
Presentation Time: 11:30 AM
HHMI SPONSORED UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH: STUDYING BIOGEOCHEMICAL TRANSFORMATIONS OF REACTIVE NITROGEN AND METAL SPECIES IN URBAN ROADSIDE ECOSYSTEMS
Undergraduate researchers from Binghamton University were supported by funds from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to design and test experiments to investigate the movement of nitrogen (NH4+ and NO3-) and metal pollutants (including Zn, Cu, and Cd) in roadside ecosystems. Sites included wetlands receiving parking lot and highway runoff where students evaluated how storm events would enhance the transport and subsequent deposition of pollutants. A second site type included a wet meadow adjacent to a freeway where students evaluated the controlling mechanisms on the downward movement of traffic derived pollutants through soil. A third set of experiment sites evaluated pollutant transport through ditches that connect roadways to stream systems. The overarching theme at all sites was to understand coupled biogeochemical and hydrological cycles related to differences in biological activity corresponding to varying road salt and metal input from adjacent roadways. Oversight and mentoring was provided by graduate students from Geological and Biological Sciences to the undergraduate researchers who were selected from the Environmental Studies Program. The graduate and undergraduate students also took part in summer activities with HHMI students from other disciplines to develop networking, presentation, and assessment skills. The HHMI supported projects chosen for this interdisciplinary collaboration supplemented ongoing research studies on roadside ecosystems in urban areas sponsored by other funding agencies.