Second Summer Underway for NSF Undergraduate Students Studying Lake Champlain at Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Lab
- By Shari Halik & Jason Stockwell
For the second summer, ten REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates program funded by the National Science Foundation) students from across the U.S. have arrived on the UVM campus to conduct research on Lake Champlain. Led by Rubenstein School professor Jason Stockwell, director of the lakefront Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory, the students will work with research mentors at the Lab and across campus on projects related to the ecological and socioeconomic impacts of humans in the Lake Champlain ecosystem.
For ten weeks, students will study interdisciplinary topics including: ecological and economic impacts of invasive species in the Lake Champlain Basin; habitat fragmentation and walleye movement in Lake Champlain; effects of eutrophication on phytoplankton and zooplankton diversity; and in collaboration with the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center adjacent to the Lab, public knowledge and interest in current and future invasive species to Lake Champlain. Students will also develop professional skills to prepare for a career in science.
One REU student states, “I hope that the REU program will lend me a new perspective on the interdisciplinary nature of science. Developing a project concerning pharmaceutical contaminants in Lake Champlain will be the perfect opportunity for me to integrate my interest in ecology and animal behavior with my aspiration to learn more about the social sciences.”
Stockwell believes the REU program can be a watershed moment for students. “Conducting independent research with dedicated mentors is an incredible opportunity for undergraduates,” he states. “Our program combining natural and social sciences will open students’ eyes to research as a career and the role research plays, and maybe does not play, in society. No matter where our students end up in their careers, they will be able to draw from their firsthand, interdisciplinary experiences as both professionals and as citizens.”