Environmental Science Program

Contact

Dr. Patricia A. Saunders

Director, EVS Program
Phone: 419.289.5252
Email: psaunder@ashland.edu

Dr. Richard Stoffer

Preserve Manager
Phone: 419.289.5274
Ebay: rstoffer@ashland.edu

Programs

Undergraduate
Degree Type: BS

Environmental Science is one of the most in-demand scientific fields of study with promising career opportunities.

When you major in Environmental Science at Ashland University you will have personal attention from your professors, a new 2,500 square foot greenhouse, expanded research facilities and many more.

An Environmental Science...

Undergraduate
Degree Type: BS

Environmental Science is one of the most in-demand scientific fields of study with promising career opportunities.

When you major in Environmental Science at Ashland University you will have personal attention from your professors, a new 2,500 square foot greenhouse, expanded research facilities and many more.

An Environmental Science...

Undergraduate
Degree Type: BS

Environmental Science is one of the most in-demand scientific fields of study with promising career opportunities.

When you major in Environmental Science at Ashland University you will have personal attention from your professors, a new 2,500 square foot greenhouse, expanded research facilities and many more.

An Environmental Science...

Undergraduate
Degree Type: BS

Environmental Science is one of the most in-demand scientific fields of study with promising career opportunities.

When you major in Environmental Science at Ashland University you will have personal attention from your professors, a new 2,500 square foot greenhouse, expanded research facilities and many more.

An Environmental Science...

Curriculum

Brochures & Course Rotations

Each department provides information specific to its majors and programs to help ensure you choose exactly which major is right for you. Use the supplemental material below to assist you in finding a major that most interests you.

Current Undergraduate Catalog

Department Course Rotations

Faculty

Dr. Soren Brauner, Professor
Dr. Soren Brauner
Professor of Biology
322 , Kettering Science Center
419.289.5275 / sbrauner@ashland.edu
Department of Biology & Toxicology , Environmental Science Program
Dr. Nigel Brush, Professor of Geology
Dr. Nigel Brush
Professor of Geology
421 , Kettering Science Center
419.289.5271 / nbrush@ashland.edu
Department of Chemistry, Geology and Physics , Environmental Science Program
Dolly Crawford
Dr. Dolly Crawford
Assistant Professor of Biology
325, Kettering Science Center
419.289.5942 / dcrawfo9@ashland.edu
Department of Biology & Toxicology , Environmental Science Program
Dr. Doug Dawson
Dr. Doug Dawson
Professor of Biology/Toxicology
318 , Kettering Science Center
419.289.5277 / ddawson2@ashland.edu
Department of Biology & Toxicology , Environmental Science Program
Dr. Mason Posner, Professor, Chair
Dr. Mason Posner
Professor of Biology
320, Kettering Science Center
419.289.5691 / mposner@ashland.edu
Department of Biology & Toxicology , Environmental Science Program
Dr. Patricia Saunders, Associate Professor
Dr. Patricia Saunders
Associate Professor of Biology, Director of the Environmental Science Program
324 , Kettering Science Center
419.289.5252 / psaunder@ashland.edu
Department of Biology & Toxicology , Environmental Science Program
Merrill Tawse, Professional Instructor
Merrill Tawse
Professional Instructor of Biology
323, Kettering Science Center
419.207.6310 / mtawse@ashland.edu
Department of Biology & Toxicology , Environmental Science Program
Dr. Andrew Trimble, Associate Professor
Dr. Andrew Trimble
Associate Professor of Biology/Toxicology
326, Kettering Science Center
419.289.5267 / atrimble@ashland.edu
Department of Biology & Toxicology , Environmental Science Program
Dr. Jeffrey Weidenhamer, Professor
Dr. Jeffrey Weidenhamer
Trustees’ Distinguished Professor of Chemistry
419 , Kettering Science Center
419.289.5281 / jweiden@ashland.edu
Department of Chemistry, Geology and Physics , Environmental Science Program

Lecture Series

The Environmental Lecture Series was established at Ashland University after the Environmental Science program was implemented in 1991-92. The lecture series was designed to support the Environmental Science program by allowing students, faculty and members of North Central Ohio communities to interact with leaders in environmental science and policy. Over the years, the lecture series has generated significant campus and community involvement and support. Recent lectures are archived for viewing on this webpage.

Research

EVS Research

We're proud of our faculty's research.

Ashland University science faculty research programs all involve students, who learn to use lab and field equipment, do group-work, present project ideas, and go in-depth into active science.

Many directed research students present at professional conferences, meet experts in their field of interest, and co-author published papers. All of our research students gain experience that is valuable to professional development and their future in science and science-related work.

Faculty Research Areas

Faculty

Description

Dr. Soren Brauner plant genetics and evolution, invasive species
Dr. Nigel Brush millennial-scale climate change and climatic proxies, rhythmic patterning in the geologic record, geochronology, catastrophism and mass extinctions, the Ice Age
Dr. Dolly Crawford spatial ecology, biophysical modeling of desert mammals, bird habitat selection
Dr. Douglas A. Dawson chemical mixture toxicity, developmental toxicity, tsructure-activity relationships
Dr. Jenna Dohli environmental microbiology, microbial biodiversity and ecology in aquatic systems, cold adaptation of Antarctic green algae
Dr. Mason Posner ichthyology, evolution and function of the vertebrate eye
Dr. Patricia A. Saunders aquatic food-web dynamics, plankton ecology, dynamics of temporary pool communities in a forested floodplain
Dr. Richard L.Stoffer, Emeritus ecology, animal behavior, prairie restoration, systematics of the Dipteran family Chironomidae
Prof. Merrill Tawse polyploidy in local Ambystomid salamandars, territorial behavior and movement patterns of Virginia rails and Sora rails, foraging behavior of insectivorous bats
Dr. Andrew J. Trimble environmental toxicology, pesticides, contaminant mixtures, aquatic invertebrates
Dr. Jeffrey D. Weidenhamer chemical ecology, heavy metal contamination of consumer products

Our Students Work in Five Environmental Preserves

Ashland University also manages five environmental preserves that support undergraduate and faculty research and habitat conservation. They are also used regularly by our classes. The Preserve Manager Is Dr. Richard Stoffer. Students may become involved in studies of the biological and physical attributes and processes that characterize these preserves. Each preserve contains unique habitat and wildlife and thus offers a variety of study opportunities.

  • Black Fork Wetlands (diverse wetlands and upland habitats)
  • Canfield (stream)
  • Dayspring (stream and forested ravine)
  • Rupp (restored prairie)
  • Stoffer (old field and mature forest)

Our Facilities and Instrumentation

The Kettering Science Center houses the Department of Biology/Toxicology and the Department of Chemistry/Geology/Physics, which together offer the interdisciplinary Environmental Science Program.

A major addition and renovation of the Kettering Science Center was completed in 2006. A new 2,500-sq.ft. state-of-the-art greenhouse and an additional research lab was completed in 2008. Altogether these facilities include new and renovated lab and teaching space and office suites that house faculty where students can find them, as well as several specialty rooms for specific research tools and facilities (e.g. vivarium, research microscopy, tissue culture).

Kettering teaching and faculty/student research laboratories provide students with access to modern equipment and instrumentation that are used for the analysis of environmental samples:

  • GC/mass spectrometer
  • X-ray fluorescence spectrometer
  • atomic absorbance spectrometers
  • UV/VIS spectrometers
  • gas chromatograph
  • ion chromatograph
  • high performance liquid chromatographs
  • microplate reader (UV/VUS, fluorescence, luminescence)
  • a variety of microscopes with digital and photographic capabilities (phase, polarizing, and fluorescence), including our research-grade inverted microscope with phase, DIC, and fluorescence optics and digital image capture technologies
  • a variety of growth chambers and a greenhouse
  • instrumentation for molecular studies of proteins and DNA
  • a variety of field-sampling and analytical preparation equipment

Preserves

Preserves

Our Students Work in Five Environmental Preserves

Ashland University also manages five environmental preserves that support undergraduate and faculty research and habitat conservation. The Preserve Manager Is Dr. Richard Stoffer. Students may become involved in studies of the biological and physical attributes and processes that characterize these preserves. Each preserve contains unique habitat and wildlife and thus offers a variety of study opportunities. The five preserves are located in the Unglaciated Allegheny Plateau (Dayspring Preserve) and the Glaciated Allegheny Plateau (Black Fork Wetlands, Canfield, Rupp, Stoffer).

Black Fork Wetlands (diverse wetlands and upland habitats)

In 1998, with the help of an anonymous donor, Ashland University purchased 38 acres of wetland six miles south of campus on U.S. 42. In 2004, an additional 260 acres was purchased with a grant from the Clean Ohio Conservation fund and additional support from a matching grant.  In 2018, seven acres were added with support from generous members of the community. This preserve has a mix of several habitats, including buttonbush swamp, swamp forest, marsh, riparian corridor, and upland areas. Species observed at the preserve include beaver, trumpeter swans, bald eagles, soras, and sandhill cranes. Wetlands are habitats with high ecological value. Floodplain areas help slow, absorb, and filter water moving downstream during periods of high water and thus provide valuable ecosystem services. They have the highest biological productivity of terrestrial habitats outside of rainforest areas. The inclusion of 305 acres in the Black Fork Wetland Preserve lessens its susceptibility to outside activities that might affect it and also provides many species with the larger habitat areas needed for maintenance of their populations.

Canfield (stream)

In 2002, a one-acre preserve with deciduous forest and a running stream was donated by Mike and Judy Canfield. This preserve, a short drive from campus on U.S. 250 north, provides a cobble-bottom stream habitat not present in the other preserves close to Ashland.

Dayspring (stream and forested ravine)

In 2004, Dr. Lewis Smith (Ashland University'50) and his wife Ardeth (Kline, Ashland University'52) donated 50 acres of land in Coshocton County for use as an Ashland University environmental preserve. This property is located in an unglaciated area of Ohio, and thus contains different habitats and geological formations than are found in the other Ashland University preserves. Features include mature deciduous forest and a deep ravine with a healthy stream that flows across much of the property.  In 2012, a grant from the Schooler Foundation allowed for a major renovation of the field station and upgrades to the access bridge.

Rupp-Stahley (restored prairie)

In 1996, a grant from The Fran and Warren Rupp Foundation of Mansfield, Ohio, enabled Ashland University to purchase a 8-acre preserve three miles north of town on Ohio 511.  The preserve was expanded to 9+ acres in 2017. Three habitats are being managed here: second-growth forest, old field, and two acres of restored prairie.  Controlled burns have been done with the help of volunteer students and faculty. In 2017, the Rupp Preserve was made a study site for a state-wide research project investigating Ohio bumblebees and their habitats. This project is led by the "Ohio Bee Team," aka a group of researchers from the University of Akron and Ohio State University.

Stoffer (old field and mature forest)

In 1999, Ashland University established the Thomas and Donna Stoffer Environmental Preserve north of Ashland on U.S. 42. Donated by Thomas (Ashland University'44) and Donna Stoffer (Ashland University'43), this preserve contains 10 acres of old fields and 20 acres of deciduous forest with streams.

Outreach

Working with the community

The Environmental Science Program supports and co-sponsors a variety of outreach programs targeted K-12 students and teachers and the regional community. Many of these efforts use the Black Fork Wetlands Environmental Studies Center or another of the five Ashland University Environmental Preserves to support hands-on experience in natural ecosystems.

Community Programming Includes:

Black Fork Wetlands Environmental Studies Center

The BFWESC was established in 2005 after a major grant from the Clean Ohio Fund allowed for substantial expansion of conserved habitats included in the Black Fork Wetlands Preserve. Funds also supported boardwalk and parking lot construction that allows for public access to this 300-acre preserve. Since 2005, the BFWESC has sponsored or co-sponsored numerous school groups from Ashland, Richland, and surrounding counties, as well as teacher development workshops promoted by the Environmental Education Council of Ohio.

Environmental Lecture Series

Established in 1991, the Lecture Series is designed to provide students, faculty and residents of North Central Ohio with the opportunity to interact with prominent environmental scientists from around the country. This series is free and open to the public, and has been supported by grants from GTE Foundation, the Fran and Warren Rupp Foundation, the Lubrizol Foundation, and support from Ashland University. The lecture series is publicized in local newspapers, and current lectures are archived for viewing on our website.

High School Lecture & Luncheon (9th-12th)

Each year, 100 high school students from area high schools are invited for a talk by a prominent environmental scientist, followed by a luncheon and question period to provide them with the opportunity to interact with the speaker. The only cost to the high schools has been to provide transportation to the Ashland University campus. This program was initiated in 1999 with a grant from the Fran and Warren Rupp Foundation, and has continued each year since thanks to a variety of sponsors.

Kettering Scholars (8th)

This program was established in 1999 for honors eighth grade students from Ashland Middle School. Fifteen to eighteen participants experience a lab with a different faculty member each month during the academic year. Field-oriented labs have included analysis of pigments involved color changes in leaves in Fall, spring wildflowers at Fowler Woods, and aquatic ecology of the Black Fork Wetland Preserve followed by microscopic examination of the samples in lab. Kettering Scholar alumni (12th grade) return during high school for advanced lab activities.

Naturalist on Duty

Starting in 2016, the Naturalist on Duty program has been offering short programs and informal learning options in an open-house format. These events are offered monthly on a Saturday during summer and fall. AU environmental science faculty collaborate with Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists to host visitors.

Nature Walks With Community Groups

EVS faculty members have hosted nature walks with members of regional community groups for many years. A recent example was the day trip planned with the Mohican Native Plant Society to explore plant diversity at the Dayspring Preserve in Coshocton Co.

Mohican District Science Day

Mohican District Science Day is the district science fair for students in grades 5-12 in schools of Ashland, Richland, Wayne, Holmes, Medina, Lorain, Huron, and Erie counties. Students who enter District Science Day must receive superior ratings at science fairs held locally at their own school, county, or school district. Projects that have followed Ohio Academy of Science (OAS) standards from students who come from schools where local science fairs are not held are also welcome providing you contact the Director for special permission. Students receiving superior ratings at the district level may then be selected to compete in the Ohio Academy of Science's State Science Fair at The Ohio State University on May 11, 2020.

Learn more about the Mohican District Science Day!

Resources

Environmental Lecture Series

We've been offering the free Environmental Lectures Series since 1991, and we'd be happy to have you join us. All lectures will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Ronk Lecture Hall of the Schar College of Education.

Black Fork Wetlands Environmental Studies Center

This center hosts 300 acres, spanning several habitats for you to conduct research and view species like: beaver, trumpeter swans, bald eagles, soras, and sandhill cranes.

Newsletters

Preserves & Natural Areas

We manage five environmental preserves that support undergraduate and faculty research and habitat conservation. The Preserve Manager Is Dr. Richard Stoffer. Students may become involved in studies of the biological and physical attributes and processes that characterize these preserves. Each preserve contains unique habitat and wildlife and thus offers a variety of study opportunities.

Other Parks and Preserves in the Area

Rock and Ohio Flora Garden

The AU Rock and Ohio Flora Garden is located next to the SW entrance to the Kettering Science Center Building.  It includes examples of many rock types, as well as examples of native Ohio plants that work well as garden and landscaping plants.  The garden was made possible in 2007 by a donation from Dr. Elizabeth Richmond in memory of Samuel I. Richmond, whose efforts helped secure funding for the original Kettering Science Center building.

Learn more about the plant species in our garden:

Learn more about the rocks in our garden:

Library Resources Commonly Used by Science Majors

These resources are popular library databases that our science students choose to utilize semester after semester. NOTE: a student ID and password is required.

Off-Campus Paid Summer Internships

It's a part of college - completing an internship in the field. Start here by accessing some popular internship resources for science majors.

Scholarships

In addition to AU's financial aid program and Choose Ohio First scholarship program for science majors, there are other organizations interested in supporting the education and training of environmental science students in particular.

Environmental Organizations

News

Dr. Nick Johnson recognized for teaching excellence

Dr. Nicholas Johnson, associate professor of Chemistry in the Ashland University College of Arts and Sciences, is the recipient of AU’s 2021 Taylor Excellence in Teaching Award. He joins a growing list of Kettering faculty who have been recognized for their outstanding teaching by winning the Taylor Award, including Dr. Perry Corbin (Chemistry), Dr. Mason Posner (Biology), and Prof. Merrill Tawse (Biology). The Taylor Excellence in Teaching Award was endowed by the late Edward and Louaine Taylor as a way of supporting high quality teaching at Ashland University. All full-time faculty with a minimum of three years of teaching experience at AU are eligible for the award. The award committee selects the recipient after reviewing nominations from students, faculty and department chairs. This review also includes observing a class meeting of the finalist for the award. This award is one significant way in which the University recognizes faculty members in an ongoing manner for their commitment and excellent work for students. Johnson was nominated by AU freshman biology major Maddie Fish, a student in his fall semester General Chemistry class. “Although it was the most difficult class in terms of content, he taught in a way I had never experienced before,” Fish wrote in her nomination. “He taught in a manner so much different from any educator I have previously had. Not only does he care about his students learning the material, but he also cares about each of his students. “I could not tell you how many times I heard him ask someone how they are doing or how school is going for them. I knew from the very first day of classes that he was a special educator because he had us fill out a slip of paper about what we would like to achieve with...Read more

Ashland Alumna named director of Office of Emergency Management at Johns Hopkins Hospital

Alumna Mary Brown (Ashland ’13, Forensic Biology) has recently been named director of the Office of Emergency Management at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Mary served as interim director prior to being named director, and as interim director Mary oversaw the Johns Hopkins Hospital Incident Command structure and was deeply involved in pandemic response activities, including the launch of the COVID-19 testing tent and COVID-19 vaccine clinics. Prior to that, she served as emergency management specialist, responding to more than 30 emergencies. Following her time at Ashland, Mary served as a Postbaccalaureate Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health, and then earned a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. How did your time at Ashland prepare you for the future? “I believe every step taken, including my time at Ashland University, plays a part in my success today as Director of Emergency Management at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. One of the most influential opportunities I took part of at Ashland was undergraduate research in the Department of Biology. The individualized training I received by the Posner Lab helped develop the skills needed to excel in a competitive research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health post-graduation, which then further opened doors as my career progressed. I am thankful for my time at Ashland University to help build the solid foundation for where I am today.” What was the best part of your Ashland University experience? “The best part of my undergraduate experience has to be the life-long friendships I made while at Ashland University. From the friends made through the Departments of Biology and Chemistry, the Center of Religious Life, the Rec Center, and everywhere else in between – I really cherish those friendships gained during my time...Read more

AU Science Community mourns the passing of Alumnus and Long-time Science Teacher Norman Dria

 Norm Dria (’72, Physics and Mathematics) passed away on February 21, 2021. After his graduation from Ashland, Norm earned a M.S. in Physics from the University of Akron, and began a career teaching in the Black River School District in Medina County, where he taught for forty years. Norm had a passion for teaching and received numerous recognitions for his contributions, including the Raymond W. Bixler Award from Ashland University recognizing his excellence in education, and the Acker Outstanding Science Teacher Award from the Mohican District Science Council. Norm served on the Mohican District Science Council for 45 years. Several of his children and their spouses still serve as judges at the Mohican District Science Fair every year. Norm leaves behind Janet, his wife of 48 years, nine children, 18 grandchildren, a large extended family – and a legacy of inspiring students to study and pursue careers in science.

...Read more

AU Trustees Approve Reduction of Academic Programs

The Ashland University Board of Trustees recently voted to “sunset” twenty undergraduate degree programs. Sunsetting means that current and incoming students will have the opportunity to fully complete their majors, but students will no longer be accepted into these programs after the current incoming fall class. Information about this decision can be found on the AU website and Facebook page. This post is intended to provide some clarity regarding the impact on programs housed within the Kettering Science Center. The Bachelor of Science with majors in Geology, Geoscience Technology & Management, and Physics will be sunsetted, in addition to the minor in Physics. The Geology minor will continue to be offered, as will the geology and physics courses that are required by other programs. All majors within the Department of Biology/Toxicology will remain. Likewise, the Bachelor of Science with majors in Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Forensic Chemistry will continue. The Environmental Science Program will also remain. The potential for a revised EVS/Geochemistry track has received support from the administration. In science education, the two BSEd majors in grades 7-12 Integrated Science and Life Science will continue, as will the science concentration for the middle grades major. The BSEd programs in Chemistry Education, Earth Science Education, and Physical Science Education will be sunsetted. The news of the discontinuation of academic programs is personally and professionally disappointing to students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of Ashland University Sciences. Feel free to contact me at if you have questions. My colleagues and I are working to create the safest and best possible experience for our new and returning students this fall. We hope to see you or hear from you in the coming year. As always, thank you for the support. Dr. Rebecca CorbinChair of the Department of Chemistry/Geology/Physics...Read more

Contact

Contact

Dr. Patricia A. Saunders

Director, EVS Program
Phone: 419.289.5252
Email: psaunder@ashland.edu

Dr. Richard Stoffer

Preserve Manager
Phone: 419.289.5274
Ebay: rstoffer@ashland.edu

Programs

Programs

Undergraduate
Degree Type: BS

Environmental Science is one of the most in-demand scientific fields of study with promising career opportunities.

When you major in Environmental Science at Ashland University you will have personal attention from your professors, a new 2,500 square foot greenhouse, expanded research facilities and many more.

An Environmental Science...

Undergraduate
Degree Type: BS

Environmental Science is one of the most in-demand scientific fields of study with promising career opportunities.

When you major in Environmental Science at Ashland University you will have personal attention from your professors, a new 2,500 square foot greenhouse, expanded research facilities and many more.

An Environmental Science...

Undergraduate
Degree Type: BS

Environmental Science is one of the most in-demand scientific fields of study with promising career opportunities.

When you major in Environmental Science at Ashland University you will have personal attention from your professors, a new 2,500 square foot greenhouse, expanded research facilities and many more.

An Environmental Science...

Undergraduate
Degree Type: BS

Environmental Science is one of the most in-demand scientific fields of study with promising career opportunities.

When you major in Environmental Science at Ashland University you will have personal attention from your professors, a new 2,500 square foot greenhouse, expanded research facilities and many more.

An Environmental Science...

Curriculum

Curriculum

Brochures & Course Rotations

Each department provides information specific to its majors and programs to help ensure you choose exactly which major is right for you. Use the supplemental material below to assist you in finding a major that most interests you.

Current Undergraduate Catalog

Department Course Rotations

Faculty

Faculty

Dr. Soren Brauner, Professor
Dr. Soren Brauner
Professor of Biology
322 , Kettering Science Center
419.289.5275 / sbrauner@ashland.edu
Department of Biology & Toxicology , Environmental Science Program
Dr. Nigel Brush, Professor of Geology
Dr. Nigel Brush
Professor of Geology
421 , Kettering Science Center
419.289.5271 / nbrush@ashland.edu
Department of Chemistry, Geology and Physics , Environmental Science Program
Dolly Crawford
Dr. Dolly Crawford
Assistant Professor of Biology
325, Kettering Science Center
419.289.5942 / dcrawfo9@ashland.edu
Department of Biology & Toxicology , Environmental Science Program
Dr. Doug Dawson
Dr. Doug Dawson
Professor of Biology/Toxicology
318 , Kettering Science Center
419.289.5277 / ddawson2@ashland.edu
Department of Biology & Toxicology , Environmental Science Program
Dr. Mason Posner, Professor, Chair
Dr. Mason Posner
Professor of Biology
320, Kettering Science Center
419.289.5691 / mposner@ashland.edu
Department of Biology & Toxicology , Environmental Science Program
Dr. Patricia Saunders, Associate Professor
Dr. Patricia Saunders
Associate Professor of Biology, Director of the Environmental Science Program
324 , Kettering Science Center
419.289.5252 / psaunder@ashland.edu
Department of Biology & Toxicology , Environmental Science Program
Merrill Tawse, Professional Instructor
Merrill Tawse
Professional Instructor of Biology
323, Kettering Science Center
419.207.6310 / mtawse@ashland.edu
Department of Biology & Toxicology , Environmental Science Program
Dr. Andrew Trimble, Associate Professor
Dr. Andrew Trimble
Associate Professor of Biology/Toxicology
326, Kettering Science Center
419.289.5267 / atrimble@ashland.edu
Department of Biology & Toxicology , Environmental Science Program
Dr. Jeffrey Weidenhamer, Professor
Dr. Jeffrey Weidenhamer
Trustees’ Distinguished Professor of Chemistry
419 , Kettering Science Center
419.289.5281 / jweiden@ashland.edu
Department of Chemistry, Geology and Physics , Environmental Science Program

Lecture Series

Lecture Series

The Environmental Lecture Series was established at Ashland University after the Environmental Science program was implemented in 1991-92. The lecture series was designed to support the Environmental Science program by allowing students, faculty and members of North Central Ohio communities to interact with leaders in environmental science and policy. Over the years, the lecture series has generated significant campus and community involvement and support. Recent lectures are archived for viewing on this webpage.

Research

Research

EVS Research

We're proud of our faculty's research.

Ashland University science faculty research programs all involve students, who learn to use lab and field equipment, do group-work, present project ideas, and go in-depth into active science.

Many directed research students present at professional conferences, meet experts in their field of interest, and co-author published papers. All of our research students gain experience that is valuable to professional development and their future in science and science-related work.

Faculty Research Areas

Faculty

Description

Dr. Soren Brauner plant genetics and evolution, invasive species
Dr. Nigel Brush millennial-scale climate change and climatic proxies, rhythmic patterning in the geologic record, geochronology, catastrophism and mass extinctions, the Ice Age
Dr. Dolly Crawford spatial ecology, biophysical modeling of desert mammals, bird habitat selection
Dr. Douglas A. Dawson chemical mixture toxicity, developmental toxicity, tsructure-activity relationships
Dr. Jenna Dohli environmental microbiology, microbial biodiversity and ecology in aquatic systems, cold adaptation of Antarctic green algae
Dr. Mason Posner ichthyology, evolution and function of the vertebrate eye
Dr. Patricia A. Saunders aquatic food-web dynamics, plankton ecology, dynamics of temporary pool communities in a forested floodplain
Dr. Richard L.Stoffer, Emeritus ecology, animal behavior, prairie restoration, systematics of the Dipteran family Chironomidae
Prof. Merrill Tawse polyploidy in local Ambystomid salamandars, territorial behavior and movement patterns of Virginia rails and Sora rails, foraging behavior of insectivorous bats
Dr. Andrew J. Trimble environmental toxicology, pesticides, contaminant mixtures, aquatic invertebrates
Dr. Jeffrey D. Weidenhamer chemical ecology, heavy metal contamination of consumer products

Our Students Work in Five Environmental Preserves

Ashland University also manages five environmental preserves that support undergraduate and faculty research and habitat conservation. They are also used regularly by our classes. The Preserve Manager Is Dr. Richard Stoffer. Students may become involved in studies of the biological and physical attributes and processes that characterize these preserves. Each preserve contains unique habitat and wildlife and thus offers a variety of study opportunities.

  • Black Fork Wetlands (diverse wetlands and upland habitats)
  • Canfield (stream)
  • Dayspring (stream and forested ravine)
  • Rupp (restored prairie)
  • Stoffer (old field and mature forest)

Our Facilities and Instrumentation

The Kettering Science Center houses the Department of Biology/Toxicology and the Department of Chemistry/Geology/Physics, which together offer the interdisciplinary Environmental Science Program.

A major addition and renovation of the Kettering Science Center was completed in 2006. A new 2,500-sq.ft. state-of-the-art greenhouse and an additional research lab was completed in 2008. Altogether these facilities include new and renovated lab and teaching space and office suites that house faculty where students can find them, as well as several specialty rooms for specific research tools and facilities (e.g. vivarium, research microscopy, tissue culture).

Kettering teaching and faculty/student research laboratories provide students with access to modern equipment and instrumentation that are used for the analysis of environmental samples:

  • GC/mass spectrometer
  • X-ray fluorescence spectrometer
  • atomic absorbance spectrometers
  • UV/VIS spectrometers
  • gas chromatograph
  • ion chromatograph
  • high performance liquid chromatographs
  • microplate reader (UV/VUS, fluorescence, luminescence)
  • a variety of microscopes with digital and photographic capabilities (phase, polarizing, and fluorescence), including our research-grade inverted microscope with phase, DIC, and fluorescence optics and digital image capture technologies
  • a variety of growth chambers and a greenhouse
  • instrumentation for molecular studies of proteins and DNA
  • a variety of field-sampling and analytical preparation equipment

Preserves

Preserves

Preserves

Our Students Work in Five Environmental Preserves

Ashland University also manages five environmental preserves that support undergraduate and faculty research and habitat conservation. The Preserve Manager Is Dr. Richard Stoffer. Students may become involved in studies of the biological and physical attributes and processes that characterize these preserves. Each preserve contains unique habitat and wildlife and thus offers a variety of study opportunities. The five preserves are located in the Unglaciated Allegheny Plateau (Dayspring Preserve) and the Glaciated Allegheny Plateau (Black Fork Wetlands, Canfield, Rupp, Stoffer).

Black Fork Wetlands (diverse wetlands and upland habitats)

In 1998, with the help of an anonymous donor, Ashland University purchased 38 acres of wetland six miles south of campus on U.S. 42. In 2004, an additional 260 acres was purchased with a grant from the Clean Ohio Conservation fund and additional support from a matching grant.  In 2018, seven acres were added with support from generous members of the community. This preserve has a mix of several habitats, including buttonbush swamp, swamp forest, marsh, riparian corridor, and upland areas. Species observed at the preserve include beaver, trumpeter swans, bald eagles, soras, and sandhill cranes. Wetlands are habitats with high ecological value. Floodplain areas help slow, absorb, and filter water moving downstream during periods of high water and thus provide valuable ecosystem services. They have the highest biological productivity of terrestrial habitats outside of rainforest areas. The inclusion of 305 acres in the Black Fork Wetland Preserve lessens its susceptibility to outside activities that might affect it and also provides many species with the larger habitat areas needed for maintenance of their populations.

Canfield (stream)

In 2002, a one-acre preserve with deciduous forest and a running stream was donated by Mike and Judy Canfield. This preserve, a short drive from campus on U.S. 250 north, provides a cobble-bottom stream habitat not present in the other preserves close to Ashland.

Dayspring (stream and forested ravine)

In 2004, Dr. Lewis Smith (Ashland University'50) and his wife Ardeth (Kline, Ashland University'52) donated 50 acres of land in Coshocton County for use as an Ashland University environmental preserve. This property is located in an unglaciated area of Ohio, and thus contains different habitats and geological formations than are found in the other Ashland University preserves. Features include mature deciduous forest and a deep ravine with a healthy stream that flows across much of the property.  In 2012, a grant from the Schooler Foundation allowed for a major renovation of the field station and upgrades to the access bridge.

Rupp-Stahley (restored prairie)

In 1996, a grant from The Fran and Warren Rupp Foundation of Mansfield, Ohio, enabled Ashland University to purchase a 8-acre preserve three miles north of town on Ohio 511.  The preserve was expanded to 9+ acres in 2017. Three habitats are being managed here: second-growth forest, old field, and two acres of restored prairie.  Controlled burns have been done with the help of volunteer students and faculty. In 2017, the Rupp Preserve was made a study site for a state-wide research project investigating Ohio bumblebees and their habitats. This project is led by the "Ohio Bee Team," aka a group of researchers from the University of Akron and Ohio State University.

Stoffer (old field and mature forest)

In 1999, Ashland University established the Thomas and Donna Stoffer Environmental Preserve north of Ashland on U.S. 42. Donated by Thomas (Ashland University'44) and Donna Stoffer (Ashland University'43), this preserve contains 10 acres of old fields and 20 acres of deciduous forest with streams.

Outreach

Outreach

Working with the community

The Environmental Science Program supports and co-sponsors a variety of outreach programs targeted K-12 students and teachers and the regional community. Many of these efforts use the Black Fork Wetlands Environmental Studies Center or another of the five Ashland University Environmental Preserves to support hands-on experience in natural ecosystems.

Community Programming Includes:

Black Fork Wetlands Environmental Studies Center

The BFWESC was established in 2005 after a major grant from the Clean Ohio Fund allowed for substantial expansion of conserved habitats included in the Black Fork Wetlands Preserve. Funds also supported boardwalk and parking lot construction that allows for public access to this 300-acre preserve. Since 2005, the BFWESC has sponsored or co-sponsored numerous school groups from Ashland, Richland, and surrounding counties, as well as teacher development workshops promoted by the Environmental Education Council of Ohio.

Environmental Lecture Series

Established in 1991, the Lecture Series is designed to provide students, faculty and residents of North Central Ohio with the opportunity to interact with prominent environmental scientists from around the country. This series is free and open to the public, and has been supported by grants from GTE Foundation, the Fran and Warren Rupp Foundation, the Lubrizol Foundation, and support from Ashland University. The lecture series is publicized in local newspapers, and current lectures are archived for viewing on our website.

High School Lecture & Luncheon (9th-12th)

Each year, 100 high school students from area high schools are invited for a talk by a prominent environmental scientist, followed by a luncheon and question period to provide them with the opportunity to interact with the speaker. The only cost to the high schools has been to provide transportation to the Ashland University campus. This program was initiated in 1999 with a grant from the Fran and Warren Rupp Foundation, and has continued each year since thanks to a variety of sponsors.

Kettering Scholars (8th)

This program was established in 1999 for honors eighth grade students from Ashland Middle School. Fifteen to eighteen participants experience a lab with a different faculty member each month during the academic year. Field-oriented labs have included analysis of pigments involved color changes in leaves in Fall, spring wildflowers at Fowler Woods, and aquatic ecology of the Black Fork Wetland Preserve followed by microscopic examination of the samples in lab. Kettering Scholar alumni (12th grade) return during high school for advanced lab activities.

Naturalist on Duty

Starting in 2016, the Naturalist on Duty program has been offering short programs and informal learning options in an open-house format. These events are offered monthly on a Saturday during summer and fall. AU environmental science faculty collaborate with Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists to host visitors.

Nature Walks With Community Groups

EVS faculty members have hosted nature walks with members of regional community groups for many years. A recent example was the day trip planned with the Mohican Native Plant Society to explore plant diversity at the Dayspring Preserve in Coshocton Co.

Mohican District Science Day

Mohican District Science Day is the district science fair for students in grades 5-12 in schools of Ashland, Richland, Wayne, Holmes, Medina, Lorain, Huron, and Erie counties. Students who enter District Science Day must receive superior ratings at science fairs held locally at their own school, county, or school district. Projects that have followed Ohio Academy of Science (OAS) standards from students who come from schools where local science fairs are not held are also welcome providing you contact the Director for special permission. Students receiving superior ratings at the district level may then be selected to compete in the Ohio Academy of Science's State Science Fair at The Ohio State University on May 11, 2020.

Learn more about the Mohican District Science Day!

Resources

Resources

Environmental Lecture Series

We've been offering the free Environmental Lectures Series since 1991, and we'd be happy to have you join us. All lectures will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Ronk Lecture Hall of the Schar College of Education.

Black Fork Wetlands Environmental Studies Center

This center hosts 300 acres, spanning several habitats for you to conduct research and view species like: beaver, trumpeter swans, bald eagles, soras, and sandhill cranes.

Newsletters

Preserves & Natural Areas

We manage five environmental preserves that support undergraduate and faculty research and habitat conservation. The Preserve Manager Is Dr. Richard Stoffer. Students may become involved in studies of the biological and physical attributes and processes that characterize these preserves. Each preserve contains unique habitat and wildlife and thus offers a variety of study opportunities.

Other Parks and Preserves in the Area

Rock and Ohio Flora Garden

The AU Rock and Ohio Flora Garden is located next to the SW entrance to the Kettering Science Center Building.  It includes examples of many rock types, as well as examples of native Ohio plants that work well as garden and landscaping plants.  The garden was made possible in 2007 by a donation from Dr. Elizabeth Richmond in memory of Samuel I. Richmond, whose efforts helped secure funding for the original Kettering Science Center building.

Learn more about the plant species in our garden:

Learn more about the rocks in our garden:

Library Resources Commonly Used by Science Majors

These resources are popular library databases that our science students choose to utilize semester after semester. NOTE: a student ID and password is required.

Off-Campus Paid Summer Internships

It's a part of college - completing an internship in the field. Start here by accessing some popular internship resources for science majors.

Scholarships

In addition to AU's financial aid program and Choose Ohio First scholarship program for science majors, there are other organizations interested in supporting the education and training of environmental science students in particular.

Environmental Organizations

News

News

Dr. Nick Johnson recognized for teaching excellence

Dr. Nicholas Johnson, associate professor of Chemistry in the Ashland University College of Arts and Sciences, is the recipient of AU’s 2021 Taylor Excellence in Teaching Award. He joins a growing list of Kettering faculty who have been recognized for their outstanding teaching by winning the Taylor Award, including Dr. Perry Corbin (Chemistry), Dr. Mason Posner (Biology), and Prof. Merrill Tawse (Biology). The Taylor Excellence in Teaching Award was endowed by the late Edward and Louaine Taylor as a way of supporting high quality teaching at Ashland University. All full-time faculty with a minimum of three years of teaching experience at AU are eligible for the award. The award committee selects the recipient after reviewing nominations from students, faculty and department chairs. This review also includes observing a class meeting of the finalist for the award. This award is one significant way in which the University recognizes faculty members in an ongoing manner for their commitment and excellent work for students. Johnson was nominated by AU freshman biology major Maddie Fish, a student in his fall semester General Chemistry class. “Although it was the most difficult class in terms of content, he taught in a way I had never experienced before,” Fish wrote in her nomination. “He taught in a manner so much different from any educator I have previously had. Not only does he care about his students learning the material, but he also cares about each of his students. “I could not tell you how many times I heard him ask someone how they are doing or how school is going for them. I knew from the very first day of classes that he was a special educator because he had us fill out a slip of paper about what we would like to achieve with...Read more

Ashland Alumna named director of Office of Emergency Management at Johns Hopkins Hospital

Alumna Mary Brown (Ashland ’13, Forensic Biology) has recently been named director of the Office of Emergency Management at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Mary served as interim director prior to being named director, and as interim director Mary oversaw the Johns Hopkins Hospital Incident Command structure and was deeply involved in pandemic response activities, including the launch of the COVID-19 testing tent and COVID-19 vaccine clinics. Prior to that, she served as emergency management specialist, responding to more than 30 emergencies. Following her time at Ashland, Mary served as a Postbaccalaureate Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health, and then earned a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. How did your time at Ashland prepare you for the future? “I believe every step taken, including my time at Ashland University, plays a part in my success today as Director of Emergency Management at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. One of the most influential opportunities I took part of at Ashland was undergraduate research in the Department of Biology. The individualized training I received by the Posner Lab helped develop the skills needed to excel in a competitive research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health post-graduation, which then further opened doors as my career progressed. I am thankful for my time at Ashland University to help build the solid foundation for where I am today.” What was the best part of your Ashland University experience? “The best part of my undergraduate experience has to be the life-long friendships I made while at Ashland University. From the friends made through the Departments of Biology and Chemistry, the Center of Religious Life, the Rec Center, and everywhere else in between – I really cherish those friendships gained during my time...Read more

AU Science Community mourns the passing of Alumnus and Long-time Science Teacher Norman Dria

 Norm Dria (’72, Physics and Mathematics) passed away on February 21, 2021. After his graduation from Ashland, Norm earned a M.S. in Physics from the University of Akron, and began a career teaching in the Black River School District in Medina County, where he taught for forty years. Norm had a passion for teaching and received numerous recognitions for his contributions, including the Raymond W. Bixler Award from Ashland University recognizing his excellence in education, and the Acker Outstanding Science Teacher Award from the Mohican District Science Council. Norm served on the Mohican District Science Council for 45 years. Several of his children and their spouses still serve as judges at the Mohican District Science Fair every year. Norm leaves behind Janet, his wife of 48 years, nine children, 18 grandchildren, a large extended family – and a legacy of inspiring students to study and pursue careers in science.

...Read more

AU Trustees Approve Reduction of Academic Programs

The Ashland University Board of Trustees recently voted to “sunset” twenty undergraduate degree programs. Sunsetting means that current and incoming students will have the opportunity to fully complete their majors, but students will no longer be accepted into these programs after the current incoming fall class. Information about this decision can be found on the AU website and Facebook page. This post is intended to provide some clarity regarding the impact on programs housed within the Kettering Science Center. The Bachelor of Science with majors in Geology, Geoscience Technology & Management, and Physics will be sunsetted, in addition to the minor in Physics. The Geology minor will continue to be offered, as will the geology and physics courses that are required by other programs. All majors within the Department of Biology/Toxicology will remain. Likewise, the Bachelor of Science with majors in Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Forensic Chemistry will continue. The Environmental Science Program will also remain. The potential for a revised EVS/Geochemistry track has received support from the administration. In science education, the two BSEd majors in grades 7-12 Integrated Science and Life Science will continue, as will the science concentration for the middle grades major. The BSEd programs in Chemistry Education, Earth Science Education, and Physical Science Education will be sunsetted. The news of the discontinuation of academic programs is personally and professionally disappointing to students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of Ashland University Sciences. Feel free to contact me at if you have questions. My colleagues and I are working to create the safest and best possible experience for our new and returning students this fall. We hope to see you or hear from you in the coming year. As always, thank you for the support. Dr. Rebecca CorbinChair of the Department of Chemistry/Geology/Physics...Read more

Reach Your Career Goals

An environmental science degree prepares you for employment or graduate study in a diverse range of promising fields. As a graduate from Ashland, you will have the skills necessary to tackle new challenges and opportunities as they develop in your professional future!

  • Our Ashland University graduates work for state and federal government agencies, universities and nature centers, environmental service labs and other businesses that need science skills and in-depth understanding of environmental issues.

Enriching the Environment

Climate change. Water resources management. Emerging pests and invasive species. The changing energy economy. When you think of these challenges, it’s easy to understand why Environmental Science is one of the most in-demand scientific fields of study with promising career opportunities.

What to Expect in the Environmental Science Program

Environmental science is truly interdisciplinary, with a majority of real world projects typically dependent upon collaboration among scientists and other professionals with different expertise. That’s why Ashland University offers a range of concentrations within the Environmental Science program, including:

  • Environmental Science - Biology
  • Environmental Science - Chemistry
  • Environmental Science - Geology
  • Environmental Science - Toxicology

You’ll train in science fundamentals as well as national and global contexts to be prepared to take on new environmental problem.

Professors Who Are Highly Regarded Scientists

  • Professors in the Environmental Science program all hold Ph.D.s and are recognized experts in the field.
  • Professors are committed to educating and mentoring students. They teach all classes and labs personally, and never rely on graduate assistants. They serve as advisors throughout a student’s tenure at Ashland University
  • Professors are actively engaged in research, and students are actively encouraged to get involved with projects that interest them for credit, technical training, and experience with real-world scientific investigation.

Learn more about our faculty's research, all of which involve students who learn to use lab and field equipment, do group-work, present project ideas, and go in-depth into active science.

Environmental Science Program Benefits

The many benefits of the Environmental Science program are:

  • Accent on the individual with personalized attention from professors who are well recognized in the field
  • Emphasis on the development of strong writing and research skills
  • A new 2,500-square-foot greenhouse and expanded research facilities, plus exposure to state-of-the-art equipment
  • Opportunities to undertake research as early as your freshman year with opportunities to present research findings at professional conferences for national exposure
  • Access to five environmental preserves used by classes and research projects
  • The Environmental Lecture Series, offering many opportunities to network with professionals
  • Numerous opportunities for grant-supported and full-time summer research internships

A significant benefit is our connection with local and national organizations to help provide you with opportunities to gain real world experience:

  • Our partnership with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) helps provide internship opportunities
  • We’re a member of the Northeast Ohio Biology Consortium, whose members also offer many internship opportunities
  • The Merk Foundation/AAAS currently funds a summer research experience grant that supports on-campus research in environmental science and other biology/chemistry projects
  • Environmental science faculty has NSF and NIH funded research programs that involve undergraduates for unique summer research project opportunities
  • We participate in the National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduate Program, which supports well-paid summer internships focused on a variety of disciplines

Consider adding an Environmental Science Minor

Are you looking to expand your current degree to enhance your career opportunities?

As an Environmental Science minor, you’ll use your experience in science as preparation for interdisciplinary work in journalism, business, creative writing, arts, political science, and more.

How it Works

The Environmental Science Minor program includes discussion-oriented seminar classes that will allow you to learn from students of all disciplines. It’s an opportunity to reach for a solid understanding of how humans affect and are affected by the natural world, including current issues and future occurrences.

Support the Environmental Science Program

By donating any amount you're making a big difference in our department's future. To designate your gift to the Environmental Science Program, select “Other” in the "Designated Options" and type the department's name in the associated box.

Counseling Services

Counseling