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
Email: rstoffer@ashland.edu

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

Environmental Science - Biology Four-Year Guide Course Rotation
Environmental Science - Chemistry
Four-Year Guide Course Rotation
Environmental Science - Geology (NOTE: After the Fall 2020 semester, this program is no longer accepting new students
Four-Year Guide Course Rotation
Environmental Science - Toxicology
Four-Year Guide

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
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
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

AU Alumna Joins Bone Marrow Transplant Lab

 Following her graduation last December, AU Alumna Lexi Butterbaugh Roberts (Biology, ’20) joined the Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at the University of Michigan as a research lab technician. The focus of her lab is to better understand what causes graft versus host disease (GvHD) following a bone marrow transplant. Mice are used as a model organism to study this disease, and the laboratory director is particularly interested in the role of a novel long non-coding RNA sequence in acute GvHD. While at Ashland, Lexi was a member of the AU Honors Program as well as being a Choose Ohio First Scholar. How did your time at Ashland prepare you for the future? The research skills that I developed in my independent research as well as in my classes at AU definitely helped prepare me for the skills I need in this position. For example, my cellular biology class taught me proper aseptic techniques when working with tissue cell culture, and this is now a skill I use every day. My lab also often extracts bone marrow and harvests spleens from mice, so I was thankful that my labs at AU previously exposed me to these types of intricate tasks. In addition to these technical laboratory skills, the emphasis from AU professors to learn how to read primary research articles was especially helpful. I was so thankful that my professors at AU helped me develop the skills needed to more easily read and comprehend primary research articles because I have been able to gain so much new knowledge in my new field of research in this way. What did your research as an undergraduate at Ashland focus on? For two years of my undergraduate experience, I conducted independent research with Dr. Mason Posner. Dr. Posner’s...Read more

AU Grad Puts Medical Skills into Practice in Kenya

Dr. Meghann Fitzpatrick Burns (Biology ’17) is living her dream of working as a physician following her graduation from Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Currently fulfilling her residency as an OB/GYN in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Dr. Burns (Meg) recently had the opportunity to serve her final medical school rotation working in the maternity ward of Tenwek Hospital near Bomet, Kenya with Samaritan's Purse. About her experience in Kenya, Meg finds it difficult to summarize briefly but offered a number of reflections about her experience: “The first couple of days in the hospital consisted of basically just trying to get my bearings. Several Kenyan general interns (they spoke English extremely well) and two full time American OB/GYNs worked there. Every morning we saw up to 25-30 patients on rounds. Occasionally there would be 2-3 women to a bed in labor. When they were fully dilated, they would move to a different room on beds with plastic coverings separated only by a sheet hanging from the ceiling in between. Pain medications were not an option and as soon as they delivered, they got up, went to rinse off, and go back to the shared bed. The afternoons were typically spent either doing C-sections or other surgeries. Though I did several for practice, vaginal deliveries were typically performed by nurse midwives.” Meg adds: “Typically, I assisted in surgeries and c-sections. During my third week I was with one of the American attendings and she traded places with me at the OR table. I can only imagine how big my eyes were when they handed me the scalpel and I started my very first c-section as the primary surgeon. I did this one other time and assisted several more before leaving. In a single month I saw two cases...Read more

AU Alumna publishes her research and continues studies at Wright State University

AU forensic biology and toxicology alumna Maria Kern (’20) is the author of a recent paper on her Honors’ Thesis research, titled “Buyer beware: Inexpensive, high cadmium jewelry can pose severe health risks.” The paper was published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, and reports the results of extractions that Maria performed to determine how much cadmium could be released if jewelry containing as much as 90% cadmium by weight is mouthed or swallowed. Her results show the potential for serious hazards from this jewelry. The paper was co-authored by Dr. Mallorie Boron, who had previously done work on the potential of high cadmium to release cadmium when disposed of in landfills, and Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer, who supervised the work. Maria has kept busy in the past year, just graduating with a Master’s degree in Toxicology from Wright State. This program focused on Leadership in science, and she found that it greatly improved her leadership, communication, writing, and presentation skills. Maria offered some comments on her experience at Ashland.
What was the most valuable aspect of working on your research project? The two most valuable aspects of this research project were the technical skills and the confidence that I gained from completing the project. I learned so much over the course of this project about how to conduct research in the lab, develop timelines, set deadlines, record data for later use, and how to combine everything into a paper that was eventually published. I also learned many technical skills specific to laboratory methods, instrumentation, data analysis, quality control, and even cleaning that will be used throughout my entire career as a scientist. Upon completing the project, I gained much more confidence in myself and...Read more

Professor Nigel Brush Retires

Also retiring at the end of the spring semester is Dr. Nigel Brush, professor of Geology. Growing up in Coshocton County surrounded by house-sized blocks of sandstone and fields speckled with flint and arrowheads, Dr. Brush developed an early interest in geology and archaeology. After graduating from West Holmes High School, he entered the Cincinnati Bible Seminary, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in English Bible, and held student ministries in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. His interest in Christian Apologetics later resulted in the publication of two books: The Limitations of Scientific Truth (2005) and The Limitations of Theological Truth (2019). At The Ohio State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and also took master's-level classes in Anthropology, he participated in the excavation of an Early Woodland (Adena) burial mound, a Late Woodland village at the Water Plant Site, and also worked in the archaeology lab with data from the Malyan Project in Iran. As a student at the University of Southampton in England, where he received a Master of Arts in Archaeological Method and Theory, he worked on a rescue excavation at Stonehenge. Dr. Brush received his doctorate in Anthropology at UCLA and worked as a research associate in the UCLA Radiocarbon Laboratory, as an accessioner in the Haines Museum of Cultural History, and participated in a UCLA field school excavation of a rock shelter in the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu. After returning to Ohio to conduct his dissertation research, Dr. Brush surveyed a 200-square-mile area in Holmes and Coshocton counties and located some 300 rock shelters that had been utilized by Native Americans. He subsequently conducted excavations at 30 of these sites with the help of volunteers, teachers from local schools, and students from The Ohio State University, The...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
Email: rstoffer@ashland.edu

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

Environmental Science - Biology Four-Year Guide Course Rotation
Environmental Science - Chemistry
Four-Year Guide Course Rotation
Environmental Science - Geology (NOTE: After the Fall 2020 semester, this program is no longer accepting new students
Four-Year Guide Course Rotation
Environmental Science - Toxicology
Four-Year Guide

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
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
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

AU Alumna Joins Bone Marrow Transplant Lab

 Following her graduation last December, AU Alumna Lexi Butterbaugh Roberts (Biology, ’20) joined the Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at the University of Michigan as a research lab technician. The focus of her lab is to better understand what causes graft versus host disease (GvHD) following a bone marrow transplant. Mice are used as a model organism to study this disease, and the laboratory director is particularly interested in the role of a novel long non-coding RNA sequence in acute GvHD. While at Ashland, Lexi was a member of the AU Honors Program as well as being a Choose Ohio First Scholar. How did your time at Ashland prepare you for the future? The research skills that I developed in my independent research as well as in my classes at AU definitely helped prepare me for the skills I need in this position. For example, my cellular biology class taught me proper aseptic techniques when working with tissue cell culture, and this is now a skill I use every day. My lab also often extracts bone marrow and harvests spleens from mice, so I was thankful that my labs at AU previously exposed me to these types of intricate tasks. In addition to these technical laboratory skills, the emphasis from AU professors to learn how to read primary research articles was especially helpful. I was so thankful that my professors at AU helped me develop the skills needed to more easily read and comprehend primary research articles because I have been able to gain so much new knowledge in my new field of research in this way. What did your research as an undergraduate at Ashland focus on? For two years of my undergraduate experience, I conducted independent research with Dr. Mason Posner. Dr. Posner’s...Read more

AU Grad Puts Medical Skills into Practice in Kenya

Dr. Meghann Fitzpatrick Burns (Biology ’17) is living her dream of working as a physician following her graduation from Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Currently fulfilling her residency as an OB/GYN in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Dr. Burns (Meg) recently had the opportunity to serve her final medical school rotation working in the maternity ward of Tenwek Hospital near Bomet, Kenya with Samaritan's Purse. About her experience in Kenya, Meg finds it difficult to summarize briefly but offered a number of reflections about her experience: “The first couple of days in the hospital consisted of basically just trying to get my bearings. Several Kenyan general interns (they spoke English extremely well) and two full time American OB/GYNs worked there. Every morning we saw up to 25-30 patients on rounds. Occasionally there would be 2-3 women to a bed in labor. When they were fully dilated, they would move to a different room on beds with plastic coverings separated only by a sheet hanging from the ceiling in between. Pain medications were not an option and as soon as they delivered, they got up, went to rinse off, and go back to the shared bed. The afternoons were typically spent either doing C-sections or other surgeries. Though I did several for practice, vaginal deliveries were typically performed by nurse midwives.” Meg adds: “Typically, I assisted in surgeries and c-sections. During my third week I was with one of the American attendings and she traded places with me at the OR table. I can only imagine how big my eyes were when they handed me the scalpel and I started my very first c-section as the primary surgeon. I did this one other time and assisted several more before leaving. In a single month I saw two cases...Read more

AU Alumna publishes her research and continues studies at Wright State University

AU forensic biology and toxicology alumna Maria Kern (’20) is the author of a recent paper on her Honors’ Thesis research, titled “Buyer beware: Inexpensive, high cadmium jewelry can pose severe health risks.” The paper was published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, and reports the results of extractions that Maria performed to determine how much cadmium could be released if jewelry containing as much as 90% cadmium by weight is mouthed or swallowed. Her results show the potential for serious hazards from this jewelry. The paper was co-authored by Dr. Mallorie Boron, who had previously done work on the potential of high cadmium to release cadmium when disposed of in landfills, and Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer, who supervised the work. Maria has kept busy in the past year, just graduating with a Master’s degree in Toxicology from Wright State. This program focused on Leadership in science, and she found that it greatly improved her leadership, communication, writing, and presentation skills. Maria offered some comments on her experience at Ashland.
What was the most valuable aspect of working on your research project? The two most valuable aspects of this research project were the technical skills and the confidence that I gained from completing the project. I learned so much over the course of this project about how to conduct research in the lab, develop timelines, set deadlines, record data for later use, and how to combine everything into a paper that was eventually published. I also learned many technical skills specific to laboratory methods, instrumentation, data analysis, quality control, and even cleaning that will be used throughout my entire career as a scientist. Upon completing the project, I gained much more confidence in myself and...Read more

Professor Nigel Brush Retires

Also retiring at the end of the spring semester is Dr. Nigel Brush, professor of Geology. Growing up in Coshocton County surrounded by house-sized blocks of sandstone and fields speckled with flint and arrowheads, Dr. Brush developed an early interest in geology and archaeology. After graduating from West Holmes High School, he entered the Cincinnati Bible Seminary, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in English Bible, and held student ministries in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. His interest in Christian Apologetics later resulted in the publication of two books: The Limitations of Scientific Truth (2005) and The Limitations of Theological Truth (2019). At The Ohio State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and also took master's-level classes in Anthropology, he participated in the excavation of an Early Woodland (Adena) burial mound, a Late Woodland village at the Water Plant Site, and also worked in the archaeology lab with data from the Malyan Project in Iran. As a student at the University of Southampton in England, where he received a Master of Arts in Archaeological Method and Theory, he worked on a rescue excavation at Stonehenge. Dr. Brush received his doctorate in Anthropology at UCLA and worked as a research associate in the UCLA Radiocarbon Laboratory, as an accessioner in the Haines Museum of Cultural History, and participated in a UCLA field school excavation of a rock shelter in the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu. After returning to Ohio to conduct his dissertation research, Dr. Brush surveyed a 200-square-mile area in Holmes and Coshocton counties and located some 300 rock shelters that had been utilized by Native Americans. He subsequently conducted excavations at 30 of these sites with the help of volunteers, teachers from local schools, and students from The Ohio State University, The...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

Make a donation to this departmentBy 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.

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