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Three Students Win Top Honors at River Symposium
Three Students Win Top Honors at River Symposium

December 06, 2017

Three Susquehanna University students won awards for their poster presentations at the 12th annual River Symposium at Bucknell University. They captured two out of the four poster awards given for student research. More than 80 research posters were on display by students and faculty from 16 universities.

More than 300 people from neighboring states, including students, faculty, professional scientists, engineers, policy-makers, consultants and community members, participated in the two-day event.  

Senior Lindsey Sipple, a Susquehanna earth and environmental sciences major from Edinboro, Pa., won in the Stream, Rivers, Lakes and Landscape Category for her presentation, "Sediment Grain Size Characteristics in Streams with Impaired Riparian Zones: Pre- and Post-Restoration."

Sipple's research, which is ongoing, monitors compromised riparian zones along agricultural landscapes before and after using the Chesapeake Conservancy's stream restoration prioritization tool. The tool identifies properties based on lack of riparian forests, neighboring land use and hydrologic flow paths.

Sipple is building a reference profile of the grain size characteristics of streams that are pristine trout streams to agriculturally impaired stream bottoms. She will compare the grain size statistics from before restoration projects are implemented with samples collected after the restoration.

Her research was conducted under the guidance of Jonathan Niles, director of Susquehanna's Freshwater Research Initiative (FRI); Michael Bilger, aquatic ecology research scientist with the FRI; and Dan Ressler, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at Susquehanna.

Ecology majors Krista Carr, a senior from Winfield, Pa., and Daniel Morris, a junior from Warren, N.J., won in the Macroinvertebrates and Amphibians Category for their presentation, "Comparison of Five Similar Headwater Streams in Central Pennsylvania During the Summer 2017."

Carr's and Morris' research was conducted under the guidance of Jack Holt, professor of biology at Susquehanna, and Bilger.

They studied benthic macroinvertebrate (aquatic insects, mollusks and crustaceans) communities between the five headwater streams that flow down the north slope of Penn's Creek Mountain in Bald Eagle State Forest through the summers of 2015 to 2017. 

The research team collected insects during the first half of July 2015. Comparisons of the five headwater streams (Little Weikert Run, Green Gap Run, Lick Run, Coral Run and Henstep Run) found that, based on the collections from the summer of 2017, the five streams are moderate replicates of each other, with the two most similar streams being Little Weikert and Coral runs.

Through Susquehanna University's Freshwater Research Initiative, faculty and students are working collaboratively with a network of nonprofit groups, government agencies and other academic institutions within the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay watersheds to ensure broad and compelling long-term positive impacts.

The river symposium was sponsored by the Watershed Sciences and Engineering Program of the Bucknell Center for Sustainability and the Environment. 

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