Five graduate students awarded Indiana Academy of Science grants

July 13, 2010

When choosing a research topic for graduate school, Windy McBride of Terre Haute wanted to make sure her research would mean something to a variety of people. She chose to examine the reclamation efforts at the former Friar Tuck mine near Dugger.

"I'm a big believer in doing research and doing it in a way that my mom can understand it," said McBride, a second-year graduate student in the new ISU department of earth and environmental systems.

A senior research grant from the Indiana Academy of Science has aided McBride in completing her research. Four other ISU students also recently received funding for their research.

"There's no way I could do research without the funding," she said.

McBride has collected more than 250 soil samples from the mining complex after the Department of Natural Resources replaced the coal slurry with liming and seeded the ground. She will analyze each sample for the heavy metal content.

McBride's grant of $3,000 covered the cost of equipment needed to gather and analyze the samples. Her research will aid the DNR in determining if the reclamation efforts have been cost effective and successful.

Judging from the green growth and the organic matter, McBride said the soil appears to have a diverse and healthy ecosystem.

"Those are signs that the reclamation efforts are going well," she said. However, she won't be sure until she has processed all the data.

Jennie Carr, a third-year doctoral student in the department of biology, received $2,856 to research the anti-predator behavior of mourning doves under a variety of thermal conditions. With the grant, she was able to purchase temperature-sensitive transmitters to aid in her research.

"This pilot study will allow me to continue my research with a firmer direction and (give me) the experience necessary to make my future work a success," said the Berwick, Pa. native.

Carr has found that birds will drop their nocturnal body temperature to conserve energy during times of unpredictable food supplies or cold conditions.

"One of my primary interests is how the regulation of nocturnal body temperature changes with perceived risk," Carr said.

Other Indiana State University grant winners include Amanda Jamison and Jason Borchert from the department of biology and David Bohnert from the department of earth and environmental systems.

Jamison received $2,550 to research the impact of three malarial parasites on the fitness of white-throated sparrows. Her field work is taking place in Cranberry Lake, New York, with her analyses being completed at Indiana State.

Borchert received $1,929 to research the impacts of climate changes on species interactions and thermoregulatory strategies. His research is being done in a laboratory at ISU.

Bohnert received $3,000 to use dendrochemistry to evaluate the environmental impact of creating an artificial lake. His fieldwork is taking place at Patoka Lake, which was artificially created in the 1970s, submerging roads, house foundations, sewer systems and other artificial structures.

In total, the five students were awarded $13,335.

Contact: Liz Metzger, contracts and grants specialist, Office of Sponsored Programs, Indiana State University, 812-237-3228 or liz.metzger@indstate.edu

Writer: Lana Schrock, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, 812-237-3773 or lschrock1@indstate.edu