Junior environmental science majors Samantha Wrobel and Bethany Mangioni received research grants from the Rochester Academy of Science. .

Samantha Wrobel, a junior environmental science major from Amherst, N.Y., and Bethany Mangioni, a junior environmental science major from Cheektowaga, N.Y., were two of the nine students chosen to receive research grants from the Rochester Academy of Science. The students were selected based on the scientific merit of their research and the quality of their grant proposals.

“One of the hallmarks of a Niagara University education is the opportunity for our students to perform high-impact research as undergraduates,” said Dr. William Edwards, professor of biology. “Very few undergraduate students have the opportunity to seek grants and external funding, and even fewer receive these prestigious awards. Sam and Beth’s accomplishments speak to their future as scientists in conservation and marine sciences.”

Wrobel is examining zooplankton and water samples taken in the lower Niagara River to assess the dietary preference of copepods in her project, “Characterization of the lower Niagara River copepod diet and phytoplankton community composition using 16S rRNA and 18S rRNA gene sequencing.” This research, which she is performing with Dr. Edwards, Dr. Cassandra Marnocha, associate professor of biology, and Coleen Edwards, faculty fellow, investigates the use of a technique that can facilitate more detailed analysis and modeling of freshwater ecosystems ecology.

Mangioni’s project, “Iron-nitrogen cycling through a seasonal cycle within Devil’s Bathtub, a ferruginous meromictic lake,” seeks to determine the source of the excess nitrate found within the bottom waters of the Devil’s Bathtub, a unique meromictic lake at Mendon Ponds Park in Honeoye Falls, N.Y., to gain understanding of its functioning and possible insight into early earth iron-nitrogen dynamics. She is performing this research with Drs. Williams and Marnocha.

Both students will present their work at the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography 2024 meeting in Madison, Wisc., this June. The ASLO is the leading professional organization for researchers and educators in the field of aquatic science.

Niagara University’s undergraduate program in environmental sciences prepares students to address demands on the environment and issues in areas such as alternative energy systems, natural resource management, pollution control and mitigation, and the effects of climate change. Through critical thinking, research, and scientific study, they learn environmental science and the connectedness that exists between science and public policy, as well as how to communicate scientific findings to the broader population.

The Rochester Academy of Science, Inc., is an organization which has been promoting interest in the natural sciences since 1881, with special focus on the Western New York region. The academy awards small grants to undergraduate college students involved in science research to promote interest in science among young people.