Biology Department Receives Grant for Field Work
MURFREESBORO, NC – The Biology Department at Chowan University received funding from North Carolina Sea Grant in late April of 2016. The Community Collaborative Research Grant allows Chowan students to participate in coastal programs that strive to bring together academic and coastal communities to solve environmental problems.
Under the leadership of Dr. James “Bo” Dame, Associate Professor of Biology and Physical Sciences, along with Dr. Heather L. McGuire, Chair of the Department of Biology and Professor of Biology, Chowan students are conducting wetland studies in Currituck Sound along the Outer Banks. This was made possible through the grant and through collaboration with both The Audubon Society and the NC Coastal Reserve.
Field activities on the Outer Banks are supported by collaborators providing lodging and laboratory facilities. In return the students collect valuable research information about the North Carolina coast.
“The field work provides students with an opportunity to network with people that are already working in their field of study,” says Dr. Dame. “This opens the door for possible internships and graduate school connections.”
Students are attempting to understand how marshes respond to sea level rise by mapping the boundary between wetlands and uplands. They also examine specific processes that cause marshes to rise or fall including the accumulation of organic matter, sediment accretion, and decomposition. The information the students collect is valuable to both the reserve and researchers as very little data is available for this area of northeastern NC.
“Our students could not have done this work without the grant,” explains Dr. Dame. The University’s Biology Department plans to purchase instruments and equipment with the grant that will allow them to expand their research. Students will present their research publicly through senior capstone projects and via educational kiosks located at Audubon’s Pine Island Sanctuary and the Currituck Banks Reserve on the Outer Banks.
“Though the grant is only for a single year, we see potential to continue this project long into the future and even expand into other areas of research,” concludes Dr. Dame.