Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer Daze

Summer is an active time in the SMC Biology Department! In addition to the constant "background" tasks of revising courses for the academic year, many Biology Department faculty have research programs that engage students during the summer. Working with me, for example, are Kelsie Miller and Donny Mcguirl.
Kelsie is looking at zooplankton populations in the southern part of Lake Champlain - from both zooplankton samples and from the diets of White Perch, which eat a lot of zooplankton. Kelsie is gathering information on the current status of the zooplankton community and the diet of a zooplantivorous fish species - information that may be especially valuable if/when the invasive Spiny Water Flea gets into Lake Champlain. The Spiny Water Flea is a large zooplankton from Europe and Asia that has become abundant in the Great Lakes and is spreading.... it now is also found in nearby Lake George (NY) and the canal system that connects southern Lake Champlain to the Hudson River. Therefore, it seems likely that it may soon become established in Lake Champlain as well.
Donny, who is also working with Prof. Dagan Loisel, is looking at population genetics of Pumpkinseed sunfish in several parts of Lake Champlain and two smaller nearby lakes. The goal of Donny's project is to see if there are any genetic differences among the populations that might be correlated with the frequency of outbreaks of cyanobacteria ("blue-green algae") blooms in some nearby lakes and bays. The results may provide some insight into evolutionary changes in fish populations associated with climate change.
In addition to our summer research activity, we are now working with incoming first-year students to help them select courses for the fall semester. Most of this will take place during upcoming summer advising days during which students visit campus to register for fall courses. We also contact those who cannot attend one of these sessions to discuss course selection requests which they submit to the Registrar's office.