Road Construction Leads to Wetlands Research On Campus
For anyone who has traveled to Kent State over the summer, the Summit Street construction project has been quite an inconvenience for drivers. For Lauren Kinsman-Costello, though, it’s an opportunity to make the campus more ecologically friendly and establish trends in biology, chemistry, geology and ecology.
The assistant professor of biological sciences has been 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 temporarily storing water to prevent flooding. Now, however, urban managers are coming to understand the benefits that well-designed wetlands can provide, including improving water quality.
Kinsman-Costello’s part of the Summit Street project focuses on comparing the water quality functions of the newly constructed re-designed wetland with the drainage basin that existed prior to improvements. Early on, her team studied the pre-construction conditions to establish baseline water quality indicators of water quality performance, including concentrations of chloride from road salt, nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers, and sediment.
As construction has proceeded, though, Campus Center Drive is being slightly re-routed and a new wetland area will be installed. The baseline readings Kinsman-Costello’s team recorded 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 this wetland will not only clean storm water, but also provide a habitat for plants, bugs, birds and other creatures,” she said. “And it will social and aesthetic benefits too. It can hopefully be a beautiful place where people will want to come and sit on a bench there.”