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Environmental Science Presentations

Presentations are listed in alphabetical order by the presenter's last name.

What are the ecological impacts of water pollution in Ocean City, Maryland?
Water pollution occurs when harmful substances contaminate a stream, river, lake, ocean etc. degrading water quality and making it toxic to humans and the environment. Water is so easily polluted because it is a solvent that can dissolve more substances than any other liquid known on this earth! Our objective is to discuss the detrimental effects of water pollution and raise awareness about solutions that prevent and protect our environment, in particular Ocean City, such as recycling plastic, properly disposing of chemical cleaners and oils, or avoid using pesticides and herbicides on yards. Water pollution has many effects on human health and the environment, water pollution can cause severe illness or death. Studies have shown that many people are sick every year from water pollution and the people who are at risk the most are those with low income because they live the closest to polluting industries. There are also many diseases spread from water being unsafe or unclean. The effects that water pollution may have on the environment is it can cause “algal bloom”, which is a rapid growth of algae or cyanobacteria in the water. This affects the marine environment which therefore leads to a decrease in the oxygen levels of the water, both plants and animals are harmed by this and this creates dead zones. Other things such as chemicals and heavy metals can also have an effect on an organism's ability to reproduce or marine debris such as plastic bags or soda cans can suffocate organisms.
Presenters: Graciela Amaguana, Jomana Habib and Noor Khan / Mentor: Abigail Kula, Ph.D.
Using a wager on resources to predict human population growth
Panel Presentation: In 1980, a biologist and an economist took two sides in a debate about the future of humanity. The biologist claimed our population was reaching its carrying capacity, which the economist insisted that with technology and innovation, the human population could grow limitlessly. To settle the debate they made a bet. Who won? Was it a fair fight? Can we update it with an examination of different commodities? Students of environmental science will fill you in and make you think! What is the future of humanity?
Panelists: Katherine Bloomer, Aaron Slifer and Erik Menjivar / Mentor and Moderator: Abigail Kula, Ph.D.
Pollution Solutions: Pollution effects on Biodiversity in the Chesapeake Bay and Ways to Manage it
The Chesapeake Bay is the treasure of Maryland and home to a wide array of marine and riparian life. Pollution from large cities, agricultural run-off, and trash has disrupted this once healthy estuary and all of life that call it home. This project will analyze four species that live in or near the Chesapeake Bay: the Osprey, the Blue Crab, Eelgrass, and the Striped Bass. Information discussed will be characteristics of the species, their importance to the bay, and their decline. For example, osprey are a type of hawk with a diet of almost entirely fish. These birds nest in elevated spaces, such as buoys in the Chesapeake. Osprey are very important to the Chesapeake, for they are one of the top predators of the food chain that greatly influence other species populations. Because osprey are so high on the food chain, researchers use them to study contaminant exposure throughout the bay. By testing the chemical build up in their blood and eggs, researchers can identify which chemical pollutants in the surrounding waters are affecting the species in the area. The pollution that the Bay faces will also be discussed and connected back to the decline of the four species, such as hypoxic ‘dead’ zones that either kill or drive away many species. Lastly, efforts for reviving and managing the Bay will be explored, which span from creating forest barriers to protecting tributaries of the Chesapeake from erosion to educational opportunities for the community.
Presenter: Kate Burke / Mentor: Abigail Kula, Ph.D.
Improving Ways of Catching Rays. A Case Study of the Solar Panel Array at Mount St. Mary’s University
We will be conducting an overall analysis of the solar field at Mount St. Mary’s University. This examination will consider the land space with possible alternatives as well as a cost-benefit analysis. A background of the function and mechanism behind solar panels and a comparison to other sources of energy will be discussed. Economical aspects such as monetary costs will also be reviewed. The research group will also examine the benefits of the solar panel array. There will also be an analysis of the ecological costs of the solar field. The presence of the solar field has lowered the connectivity of the habitat, causing habitat fragmentation. Habitat fragmentation has been linked to multiple negative effects on species biodiversity. There will be a discussion on the future of solar technology, examining methods to improve and increase efficiency as well as its applications to the current solar field. The study will also report on hybrid options for the array such as pollinator programs. Pollinator programs which combine the solar panel array area with restoration efforts of planting wildflowers for ecological benefits of habitat and pollination in response to legislative efforts.
Presenter: Ethan Pham / Mentor: Abigail Kula, Ph.D.

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Faculty Presentations