Faculty and Student Research
Drs. George Bullerjahn and Robert McKay, biology, are supported by Ohio Sea Grant and the DOE’s Joint Genome Institute to track the origins of toxic cyanobacteria through the lower Great Lakes and determine factors that contribute to toxic blooms in Lake Erie.
With unique access to Lake Erie and Coast Guard icebreaker vessels, and funding from the Ohio Sea Grant College Program, the Lake Erie Protection Fund and the National Science Foundation, BGSU has gained international recognition for discovering that algae grows throughout the winter.
Dr. Robert Vincent, emeritus geology professor, received a patent in 2005 for his method of finding and measuring phycocyanin-pigmented algae and cyanobacteria and since has developed ways to find and measure other materials. The patents are held by BGSU and licensed to Blue Water Satellite Inc. Vincent partnered with Milt Baker to start Blue Water Satellite Inc., a Toledo-based company that is able to provide satellite imaging of bodies of water to track algal blooms.
Chemistry faculty member, Dr. W. Robert Midden has been monitoring water quality in the Portage River watershed since 2002 with a special focus on the impact of CAFO manure on surface waters in the Wood County portion of this watershed. In partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Village of Ottawa, he is also developing technology to convert dilute CAFO manure into a slow release fertilizer to help address some of the economic and environmental challenges faced by animal agriculture in Ohio and across the nation. This work has been supported by the Local Government Innovation Fund, the Lake Erie Protection Fund and the Ohio Water Development Authority.
Funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a group of students led by Dr. Helen Michaels, biological sciences, used a global positioning system to find and map the invasive flowering rush plant in Lake Erie waters of the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.
- Dr. Jeff Miner, biological sciences, and Dr. John Farver, geology, supported by Ohio Sea Grant and the Lake Erie Protection Fund, conduct research with the help of students that assists wildlife managers and policymakers in planning for healthy waterways, using the unique chemical fingerprint found in special fish bones called otoliths to track fish populations and migration.
- Dr. Peter Gorsevski and students have explored the implementation of Bayesian inference for accounting parameter uncertainty in modeled estimates of invasive wetland plants (i.e., flowering rush). He has also developed a program for promoting collaborative spatial decision making for evaluating the suitability for wind farm siting in Northwest Ohio, including Lake Erie. His collaborations with the Department of Electrical Engineering at University of Toledo and other colleagues at BGSU developed parameters for the siting of wind turbines in Lake Erie as part of the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative.
- Dr. Linda Cornell, chemistry faculty at BGSU Firelands, provides students with field experiences focusing on the health of small streams that flow into Lake Erie via the Firelands Coastal Tributary Watershed. Cornell secured funding for “Flow Rate Study for Three Small Lake Erie Streams” through the Ohio Lake Erie Commission and the Lake Erie Protection Fund.
- Dr. Philip Xie, director of the School of Human Movement, Sport, and Leisure Studies, supported by the Ohio Sea Grant College Program, discovered the economic impact of bird watching, which contributes more than $26 million and 283 jobs to northern Ohio’s economy.
- The School of Earth, Environment and Society has extensive facilities for the collection and analysis of plant, land, and water spectra that can then be used in the interpretation of remotely-sensed data. It also has a state-of-the-art facility for the chemical analysis of water, soil and rock samples.
- The BGSU Firelands General Chemistry II Service Learning Water Quality Project, initiated in spring 2008, provides local community service and environmental stewardship opportunities for general chemistry students in partnership with Firelands Tributaries Coastal Watershed Program and Volunteer Stream Monitoring Program, Erie Soil and Water Conservation District, and Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve (OWC NERR). The project provides real-life chemistry experience for students to develop understanding of chemistry, practice the scientific method, and hone laboratory and analytical skills. Students have collected water samples in Sawmill Creek and Parker Lake to determine concentrations of ammonia and soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) and other water quality parameters using a variety of measurement techniques. Students investigated relationships between pond and stream water quality parameters and annual trends, compared measurement methods, and determined their accuracy by comparison with OWC NERR lab results. The results of the projects are incorporated into the Firelands Tributaries Coastal Watershed database and shared with partners through a research seminar at the end of the project.
- Each semester Mrs. Kate Mejiritski, chemistry, and freshman and sophomore students in CHEM 1280, a general chemistry laboratory course, test water samples collected from local rivers, lakes, and streams. Students collect water samples from specific locations on the Portage and Maumee Rivers and their tributaries. Once samples are brought to lab, students test them for concentrations of nitrate and phosphate. Both of these contaminants are known to enter the waterways through agricultural runoff and to feed harmful algal blooms. The data is checked by the instructor and forwarded to Lake Erie Waterkeepers for further analysis. Over 130 students gain laboratory and chemistry skills each semester.