Chowan Student Forrest Robinson Earns Competitive Grant for Environmental Research

  • Chowan University junior Forrest Robinson measures environmental variables like temperature and moisture levels for research project at the  Meherrin River Field Site.
Robinson’s findings will help environmental monitoring, especially in this region, as well as having applications in the growing industry of CO2 storing techniques that can help address and manage CO2 emissions.

At the 10th Annual State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creative Symposium held on the campus of NC State University in November, Chowan University junior Forrest Robinson presented his undergraduate research as one of 500 symposium presenters. His work was supported by one out of only five research grants awarded by North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities. Dr. John Dilustro, Associate Provost and Associate Professor of Biology at Chowan University, sponsored his research project.

Robinson, a Psychology major with a minor in Biology from Denton, NC, focused his project and presentation on environmental sciences with his work at the Meherrin River Field Site, located a mile and a half from the Chowan campus. Since Spring 2013, Chowan’s Department of Biology and Physical Sciences has operated the 115 acre field site through an agreement with the Town of Murfreesboro who owns the property along the river. The site integrates long term biodiversity monitoring into undergraduate education at the nearby university.

Robinson’s project dealt with quantifying forest CO2 soil respiration in the site’s various habitats including a swamp forest, a mixed deciduous forest and a planted pine forest. The soil’s biological activity was measured, as well as other environmental variables, for each of the three forest types.

“I used an infrared Vernier device with a gas sensor connected to a self-made chamber and took readings for three weeks,” Robinson explained. “While I was recording the data, I was also taking soil temperature and soil moisture readings.”

With the assistance of Dr. Dilustro’s son Frank, a sophomore at Ridgecroft School, Robinson also studied soil core samples and performed the lab analysis for soil organic matter using a loss on ignition test.

“You place samples in a furnace that burns all the carbon away, and you subtract the remaining mass and you get the soil organic matter,” Robinson related. “Then I also took core samples and sent them into the North Carolina Department of Agriculture for an additional soil nutrient analysis.”

Robinson shared his findings at the undergraduate presentation where he revealed his results – the swamp forest produced the most carbon dioxide, as well as measured the highest amount of soil organic matter, followed by the mixed deciduous forest and then lastly, the pine forest.

Robinson’s findings will help environmental monitoring, especially in this region, as well as having applications in the growing industry of CO2 storing techniques that can help address and manage CO2 emissions.

For more information contact University Relations - J.E. Barker - barkej@chowan.edu

Posts from December 2014

December 20, 2014
I am Palestinian, born in the Old City of Jerusalem and raised in its smal streets as well as in Bethlehem, where my dad is originally from. Straight after high school, I was told about an opportunity to attend an American university in North Carolina.
December 19, 2014
Two students from the Chowan University Department of Music have been selected to perform with the 2015 National Small-College Intercollegiate Band to be held March 25-28 at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.
December 16, 2014
According to the official results of the National Survey of Student Engagement, Chowan University’s survey scores place the historic institution above the average of other private colleges in the southeast region.
December 15, 2014
The Parker family of Williamston, NC has always held their church close to heart. As senior pastor of Williamston Memorial Baptist Church, Robbie and his wife Malinda have often felt God’s call, guiding them in the right direction throughout their lives.