Lauren Kinsman-Costello

Road construction Leads to wetlands research on campus

The Summit Street construction project may be an inconvenience to drivers, but it will soon give a facelift to one of Kent State’s main entrances and make it a safer road to travel.

For some Kent State researchers, though, it’s an opportunity to make the campus more ecologically friendly and establish trends in biology, chemistry, geology and ecology.

Biology professor Lauren Kinsman-Costello is leading a team of student researchers in the study of a wetland area along Summit Street near Campus Center Drive.

Kinsman-Costello has been working on the project almost since she came to Kent State in 2014.

She said the focus of wetlands used to be primarily their value in diverting water to prevent flooding. Now, however, researchers studying wetlands as a resource in urban areas are also coming to understand the impact they could have on cleaning the water and providing multiple ecosystem services.

Kinsman-Costello’s part of the Summit street project focuses on making the area a better eco-system and and more efficient wetland.

Her team is already studying the existing stormwater wetland to establish baseline water quality indicators, like concentrations of chloride from road salt, nitrogen and ammonium soluble reactive phosphate from fertilizers, and sediment.

As construction proceeds, Campus Center Drive will be slightly re-routed and new wetland areas will be installed. The baseline readings her team records now will help to determine the efficacy of the new wetland.

Beyond the practical aspects of the project, though, Kinsman-Costello said the educational value is even more important.

“We’re creating this research and education resource for the university, that can become part of the curriculum for classes taught in these areas,” she said.

The new wetland will also have ecological and aesthetic benefits.

“We’re hoping it may provide a habitat for plants, bugs, and birds,” she said. “And it will perhaps have a pleasing aesthetic social benefit. It can hopefully be a beautiful place where people will want to come and sit on a bench there.”

For more information on Kent State Research, contact Dan Pompili, at 330-672-0731 or