News Pulse - State University of New York at New Paltz

Summertime is research time

Many students and faculty have taken advantage of the 2006 summer intersession and are involved in collaborative research projects. In this issue of News Pulse, we will be focusing on two such projects.

Geology students delve into local water quality project

Courtney Giles (left) and Renée Jones (right) collect water quality information from a stream located in Mohonk Preserve with geology professor Shafiul Chowdhury. Photo contributed

Under the direction and guidance of geology professor, Shafiul Chowdhury, a small group of geology students have engaged in a unique research experience this summer.

Renée Jones ’07, Courtney Giles ’07 and Colin Mills ’07 are analyzing water quality issues of the Marakill Watershed located at the Mohonk Preserve.

Chowdhury said the students prepared for this research collaboration in previous classes with him.

In addition, graduate student Justine Seksinsky and Riekidon Singh, from SUNY Stony Brook, have joined the New Paltz undergraduates.

The goal of the project is to assess the status of the water quality of the Mohonk Preserve region and establish a baseline for water quality data. The students have also participated in ongoing stream quality projects in Ulster County to gain experience that can be applied to their work on the Marakill Watershed project.

A key piece of equipment being used to analyze water samples collected by the students is a state-of-the-art ion chromatograph, which was recently purchased using federal grant money secured by Congressman Maurice Hinchey ’68, ’70g (D-NY) in November 2005 for the purpose of modernizing and developing an environmental sciences laboratory at New Paltz.

Providing his students with a strong educational experience by having them conduct research projects has been Chowdhury’s goal since he arrived at New Paltz in 2003. Ultimately, he would like to create an undergraduate research program in the Geology Department.

“I strongly believe that every undergraduate student should have some research experience before graduation,” he said. “By doing so, they can really apply and appreciate what they have learned in the classroom.”

The work these students are involved in, much of which will continue through the fall semester, is centered on Chowdhury’s desire to pursue geological issues that impact the local community.

“The local environment and hydrogeology community could provide a wealth of applied research opportunities for students and perhaps funding, as well, if the results of that research are relevant to the community’s needs,” Chowdhury said.

The students are compiling a database that will be available beyond the limits of the college community. The students are developing their own hypotheses about the causes of the changes in the water and whether it is a healthy watershed environment.

Chowdhury said the projects are original and they are doing something that no one has done before.

“We are researchers for the county,” said Milles, who would like to pursue a career in environmental geology. Chowdhury wants students to get a feel for what goes into a geology research project, something they may not have been exposed to previously. Renée Jones said this has been a really good experience because it has exposed her to the type of work that will eventually be her career.

For student researcher Giles, this is the first time she has participated in a complete research project.

“It’s nice to go through the entire process,” she said.

The students have been spending five days a week working on the project, with at least one or two days devoted to obtaining water samples. In addition to a grade, the students will receive a stipend obtained through an internal grant from the Provost’s Office.

JULY 31, 2006
Volume 4, Issue 14

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News Pulse is published every other week for the faculty and staff of SUNY New Paltz by the Office of Public Affairs. It is printed in-house on recycled paper.

To submit information to the newsletter, please complete the online submission form. If you are requesting inclusion in the August 14 issue, your submission must be received by noon on August 8. Contact Eric Gullickson or Kristin Charles with any questions.

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