screenshot of Instagram story with water meterProfessor Rubbo, Students Conduct Environmental Studies for Connecticut Town

Students in ENV 498, a research practicum taught by Michael Rubbo, PhD, clinical associate professor of environmental science, spent the spring semester conducting biodiversity studies for the Town of Ridgefield, Connecticut. Their research included setting up camera traps (a camera that is automatically triggered by a change in activity) to survey for carnivores living in the area. They also measured water quality in the town’s vernal pools, which are an essential breeding habitat for certain species of wildlife. In May, students in the course presented their research to the local community at the Ridgefield Library. This research will be used by the town’s Conservation Commission as they complete a Natural Resource Inventory of the region to support and justify the protection of open space and other conservation efforts.

Professors Palta, Toomey Team Up with Students, Alumni to Study Human-waterfront Dynamics

Coney Island Creek is currently the site of an active combined sewer outfall, which results in raw sewage and stormwater bypassing treatment plants and overflowing directly into the creek during storms. Monica Palta, PhD, assistant professor of environmental studies, is carrying out an ecological study of the creek, with a specific look at the extent and sources of nutrient pollution in the system, and whether filter feeders in the creek (mussels, oysters) are effectively removing this nutrient pollution. Anne Toomey, PhD, assistant professor of environmental studies, has been documenting the social-cultural uses and perceptions of the water quality of the creek.

Various Pace students and alumni have been involved in this research, including Tatyana Graham ’21, Elaina Kovnat ’20, Brielle Manzolillo ’17, and Christina Thomas ’19. Professors Palta and Toomey worked with the students, along with colleagues from the USDA Forest Service, the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, and Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University, to team-write a paper that combines the natural and social science data to tell a larger story of human-waterfront dynamics in New York City, which was published in Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability.

Alumna Discovers Rare Grass Species

Alumna Hayley Lewis ’21, environmental studies, recently discovered Paspalum, a New York State–endangered grass, on Pace University’s Westchester campus. Hayley learned about the species through a Pace-funded plant internship she completed last summer at Stone Barns Center. Lewis photographed and reported the grass to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Natural Heritage Program, which facilitates the conservation of rare plants and animals and the reduction of the threat of invasive species to native ecosystems.