Environmental Science Faculty-Student Collaboration
Scientific research experience is often vital to future academic or professional study, so students are encouraged to actively participate in research performed alongside faculty in their discipline. These opportunities help students develop additional skills, apply knowledge acquired in coursework, and train students to effectively implement the scientific method. Students participating in research present their work during Ignatian Scholarship Day at Canisius, and frequently attend national and international professional conferences with their mentor. They also publish in respected, peer-reviewed research journals.
Dr. Katie Costanzo
Research in the Costanzo lab focuses on how interactions with the abiotic and biotic environment affect population dynamics, life history traits, and behavior in mosquitoes. These traits may impact disease transmission by the mosquito vectors, so we can determine how the environment may alter transmission over spatial and temporal scales. We also study a number of mosquito species including invasive and native species to the New World, which allow us to determine how their responses vary, along with the impacts invasive species may have on the native community. The studies performed in my lab include field studies and laboratory studies working with both the aquatic immature larval stage and the terrestrial adult stage.
Dr. Kristen Covino
Research in the Covino Lab focuses on songbird migration with a current emphasis on determining migratory patterns in songbird species at a population level. Intrinsic markers, including stable isotopes, have emerged as a key tool in migratory connectivity studies, and greatly increase our ability to understand interactions between phases of the annual cycle. Since geographic variation of hydrogen isotopes in precipitation follows a latitudinal gradient across eastern North America and the majority of temperate breeding songbirds perform a full molt on or near their breeding grounds, the stable hydrogen isotopes signature from their feathers provides an estimate of that individual’s molting site and thus breeding origin. Using probabilistic assignment methods this research will allow us to approximate the breeding origins of individual songbirds as they pass through migratory sites. This information will be used to determine whether birds of different populations migrate at different times or follow different geographic routes.
Student research projects in the Covino Lab allow mentoring in the field techniques of capturing and handling songbirds, bird banding, and feather sampling. Additionally, students will learn laboratory techniques associated with the cleaning, processing, and preparing of feather samples for isotopic analyses. Students may also have opportunities to train in data management of large datasets other related research tasks.
Dr. Robert Grebenok
In addition to the collaborative research involving the examination of natural steroid defenses in higher plants (see keeping the food supply safe), Dr. Grebenok’s lab also investigate the steroidal regulation of the photosynthetic process and the plants use of steroids as signaling molecules throughout their growth and development.
The examination of steroidal regulation of the photosynthetic process involves the examination of transgenic tobacco that maintain bacterial genes that allow the transgenic tobacco to photosynthesize at a faster rate and accumulate elevated levels of photosynthetic products, than controls. The transgenic manipulation alters the membrane environment in which the photosynthetic process takes place and the manipulation allows a faster rate of electron movement and an increased ability of the transgenic plants to accumulate products of photosynthesis.
The examination of movement of steroids within the phloem involves the isolation of phloem from many plants at varied developmental times. These steroids appear to be highly regulated in their appearance and their presence appears to correlate with development of the plant and environmental stimuli.
Dr. Daniel Haeusser
Research in the Haeusser Lab focuses on bacterial cell division, particularly on factors expressed by viruses (bacteriophage) that infect cells and alter host shape or cytokinesis. Environmental Science majors could pursue potential research projects that involved observation, isolation, and/or characterization of bacteria and bacteriophage from the environment, such as soil, waterways, or other habitats.
Student research projects in the Haeusser Lab allow mentoring in genetics, microscopy, and biochemical techniques in the context of basic microbiology research with potential medical applications. Outside of ‘wet lab’ experiences, students may work with Dr. Haeusser in science communication through Small Things Considered or in research on the inclusion of microbiology in literature and media.
Dr. Steven Szczepankiewicz
Dr. Szczepankiewicz and his research group investigate carbon dioxide activation using photocatalytic systems. Their research has broadened fundamental understanding of polyoxometalates and their redox behavior in unique environments. The ultimate goal is using catalysts with earth abundant elements to produce valuable organic compounds while mitigating the negative environmental impacts of atmospheric CO2.
Dr. Jonathan O'Brien
The goal of Dr. O’Brien’s research is to understanding how human activities alter the basic functions an ecosystem, such as ability to metabolize carbon, cycle nutrients and support a diverse food web. The O’Brien lab is currently working on projects that examine the effects of agricultural runoff and pharmaceuticals on river biofilms. The lab is also examining the effects of invasive species and urbanization on food web dynamics in streams. The ultimate goal of this research is to apply the knowledge we generate to help restore degraded ecosystems.