Research Funding Updates

Impact of Vegetation on Metal Release from Soils Developed on Coal Mine Waste

Investigator: Elizabeth Herndon, 2015-2018, $24,000, Farris Family Innovation Award

This project will investigate how ecosystems can enhance or mitigate leaching of harmful metals from mine waste into surface water. Precipitation that flows through mine waste can interact with remnant sulfide minerals to generate acidity and leach heavy metals from soil minerals, counteracting costly stream restoration. Revegetation is a reclamation technique used to mitigate metal transport from soils developed on mine waste by stabilizing soils against erosion, reducing water infiltration, and storing toxic metals in plant biomass. In order to determine if restoration efforts will be successful, it is necessary to quantify metal loadings leached from refuse piles and evaluate how effectively vegetation sequesters metals within mine soils. This research will be conducted at Huff Run, an AMD-impacted watershed near Mineral City, OH, and is especially pertinent to regions throughout the Appalachians, where centuries of mining operations have left a legacy of mine waste that poses an ongoing hazard to ecosystem health and water quality.

Development of an expanded pigment spectral library for identification of phytoplankton by visible derivative spectroscopy

Investigators: Joseph Ortiz and Sushma Parab, Ohio Sea Grant

Stark Campus Acquisition of an Intuitive Multi-Touch Scanning Electron Microscope to Enhance Research as well as Undergraduate Student Research and Natural Science Courses

Investigators: Matthew Lehnert mlehner1@kent.edu (Principal Investigator), Eric Taylor (Co-Principal Investigator), Jeremy Green (Co-Principal Investigator), Carrie Schweitzer (Co-Principal Investigator), Kim Finer (Co-Principal Investigator), 09/01/14 - 08/31/17  $161,039.00, Standard Grant NSF Major Research Instrumentation Program

This Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) award will fund the acquisition of a multi-functional scanning electron microscope (SEM) to support research and teaching initiatives at Kent State University at Stark. The JEOL SEM will accommodate innovative faculty research projects that span multiple disciplines, and deliver novel, hands-on research opportunities for the undergraduate students in our expanding science program. Researchers, educators, and students, including those at neighboring K-12 school systems with underrepresented groups, will have the opportunity to explore insect structures, bacteria, fossils, and minerals at the micro-scale with high-resolution, 3D images produced by the SEM. In addition, the remote control capabilities of the SEM will enhance science courses by allowing students to watch SEM usage in real time during lectures, via computers installed in the classroom.

Rock Mass Characterization and Stability Evaluation of Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, South Dakota

Primary Investigator on the project: Abdul Shakoor, 07/01/14 - 09/30/16, $25,000, United States Department of Interior National Park Service

Response of the Harmful Algal Species Microcystis (Cyanophyceae) to Variable Environmental Conditions

Primary Investigator on the project: Joseph Ortiz, Sushma Parab, Geology Department post-doc, 06/01/14 - 01/31/15, $9,999, Subaward Ohio State University /National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Ohio Sea Grant College Program M/D-1 HPLC-measured Pigment and Growth

Characterizing Stream Restoration's Water Quality Improvement Potential Through Hyporheic Enhancement

Primary Investigator on the project: Anne Jefferson, 03/01/14 - 02/28/15, $18,878, Subaward The Ohio State University /U.S. Geological Survey

Assessing the Effects of Green Infrastructure on Metals Concentrations in Stormwater Runoff

Primary Investigator on the project: Anne Jefferson,02/01/14 - 12/31/16, $3,998, Cleveland Metropolitan Park District

Bridging the Conceptual Divide Between Theoretical and Applied Environmental Chemistry

Primary Investigators on the project are Anne Jefferson, Liz Griffith, Joe Ortiz, and David Dees, NSF

We will be developing curriculum that uses water isotope data for several upper level Earth Science classes. We will be developing curriculum that enables students to run the Picarro Water Isotope Analyzer (in Anne Jefferson's lab) and analyze their own data in an effort to improve student understanding of course material. We will also be exploring ways to transfer our curricular activities to institutions that do not have isotope analytical capabilities.

Learn more about the project

Diversity in Fossil Decapod Crustacea Based Upon a Unique Species-Level Database

A 175 million year-old lobster from Arctic Canada. The animal has molted and shows all of the external skeleton as well as the internal skeleton.Dr. Schweitzer and Dr. Feldmann have been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study diversity, evolution and extinction in crabs, lobsters, and shrimps. The grant will fund the study of this economically important, diverse group of animals whose geologic history extends back 400 million years.

Kent State Geology Professor Carrie Schweitzer is the principal investigator on the project. She and co-principal investigator Rodney Feldmann, Professor Emeritus of Geology at Kent State, have worked together for 16 years, examining the evolutionary history of the Decapoda - crabs, lobsters, and shrimps. This study will provide the most comprehensive analysis of macroevolution of these crustaceans yet conducted, according to Schweitzer and Feldmann.

The pair plan to examine questions such as when these creatures first evolved, how have they diversified through time, how extinction events affected their diversity, and how has that impacted on their evolution.  "Looking at what happened to them in the past can help us to interpret what is happening now and what might happen in the future," Schweitzer said. "For example, it seems like lobsters were more diverse at different times in the past than they are now. Crabs predominate now, and we want to know why that is."  

The effect of climate, sea level, the abundance of coral reef, and the interactions between crabs, lobsters, and other animals are some of the issues the two plan to analyze.  "The majority of the grant money will go to paying Kent State undergraduate students to work with us on the project, inputting and analyzing data," Schweitzer explained. "It also will fund some research work in Europe to look at museum collections to gather data about the presence and absence of these animals at different periods of time."

The study has significance beyond classrooms and museums.  "Many of these are food animals, and we eat them as kind of luxuries," Schweitzer said. "But that's not true in other parts of the world, where they are main sources of food."

Photo Caption: Kent State University researchers have received a National Science Foundation grant to study diversity, evolution and extinction in crabs, lobsters and shrimps. Pictured is a 175 million year-old lobster from Arctic Canada. The animal has molted and shows all of the external skeleton as well as the internal skeleton.

Learn more about Kent State University Decapod Research

STEM Scholarships

KSU Scholarships for Broadening Participation in the Sciences annually provides 21 undergraduate scholarships, averaging $5,000 each to promising science students.

Applications are accepted beginning in early March for undergraduates pursing a STEM major for the following academic year. For more scholarship opportunities, search Pathways to Science for opportunities to do research at the undergraduate level, here and abroad. The Institute for Broadening Participation in the STEM sciences also offers free online search tools to encourage minority participation in STEM sciences.