Student research contributes to conservation efforts at UW-Green Bay natural areas

Six University of Wisconsin-Green Bay students will report on research conducted at three 
UW-Green Bay natural areas at the 26th annual Cofrin Student Symposium from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, in the Christie Theatre in the University Union. More than 150 students over nearly three decades have received funding through the program made possible by an endowment established by the Cofrin family. The program also will include recognition of the recipient of the Paul and Thea Sager Scholarship for excellence in scientific writing. The event is free and open to the public.

Students in the program carry out research projects related to UW-Green Bay’s Cofrin Memorial Arboretum and other University-managed natural areas in Northeastern Wisconsin. Funding is provided by a student research grant endowment established by the families of the late Dr. David A. Cofrin and the late John Cofrin. The Land Trust Grant was established by Michael Draney and Vicki Medland of the UW-Green Bay faculty/staff to support student research at other natural areas in Northeast Wisconsin. Between the two programs, grants of up to $1,000 are awarded competitively based on student proposals and are open to all students at UW-Green Bay. Projects, carried out in collaboration with faculty members, must contribute to improving understanding of the ecology, history, and appreciation of the selected natural area(s), and help land managers in conservation and restoration efforts. The projects also give students experience in properly designing and carrying out research.

Students interested in applying for grants for the upcoming year should call Vicki Medland at 920-465-2342 or visit for application guidelines. Applications are due April 13, 2015.

Among the six students presenting their results at the Cofrin Student Symposium on March 3, two will highlight the importance of invertebrates in forest ecology. Amber Konrad, Sturgeon Bay, used her grant to survey and create a GIS map of the distribution of ant mounds in the Cofrin Arboretum to better understand how the location of these important “soil engineers” may affect the distributions of other species and the ecology of the landscape. Linda Vang, Green Bay, will discuss the results of a project she began in 2013 examining the relationships between invertebrates and wildflower seeds. In 2013 she documented the presence of harvestmen (opiliones, sometimes incorrectly called “daddy longlegs”) on and near the wildflower seeds she was observing. She designed her second study to determine if harvestmen are predators of spring wildflower seeds and to assess the role of these arachnids in seed dispersal.

Lindsay Hansen, Kiel, conducted bird surveys at the University-managed Kingfisher Farm natural area in Manitowoc County. Her goals were to provide a detailed list and description of the migratory birds using the Lake Michigan shoreline and river mouth habitats at Kingfisher Farm and nearby conservation areas in order to provide land managers with information about the use of shoreline habitats by migratory bird species.

As part of a restoration effort in the wetlands at Point au Sable Nature Preserve, Cassondra Kollatz, Burlington, collected, counted and identified zooplankton she collected in a bayshore lagoon and in the bay of Green Bay. The goal was to provide baseline data for an ongoing restoration effort by informing ecologists about how changing water levels and future controlled burning of invasive plants may affect the zooplankton communities that form the basis of the food chain in the ecosystem.

Students at UW-Green Bay have been conducting snake surveys on the Cofrin Arboretum for several years, providing a unique opportunity to continue examining snake populations, distribution and movement. Students Jacqueline Corrigan and Tessa Moeller, Seymour, compared data from previous surveys to the data they collected last summer and fall to examine the effectiveness of sampling methods and to determine what impact the harsh winter of 2013-2014 might have had on the survivorship and distribution of snakes in the Arboretum.

As part of the symposium program, this year’s Sager Scholarship for Undergraduate Scientific Writing will be presented to Christa Kananen, Sobieski, for her paper titled “Drawdown of the Potentiometric Surface of the Cambrian-Ordovician Aquifer in Marinette County, Wisconsin.” Prof. Robert Howe, director of the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity at UW-Green Bay will introduce and moderate the March 3 program.


Senior earns Sager award for work on Marinette County aquifer

The winner of this year’s Sager Scholarship is Christa Kananen, a senior majoring in Geoscience with a minor in Environmental Science. Her paper “Drawdown of the Potentiometric Surface of the Cambrian-Ordovician Aquifer in Marinette County” was based on her undergraduate research project under the guidance of NAS Associate Prof. John Luczaj. The Sager Scholarship for Scientific Writing was established by retired UW-Green Bay faculty members Paul and Dorothea Sager in memory of Chancellor Emeritus Edward Weidner and his commitment to UW-Green Bay and the Cofrin Arboretum. The $1,000 scholarship is awarded to a UW-Green Bay undergraduate who has demonstrated excellence in scientific writing resulting from a classroom or extracurricular academic activity. Students receiving honorable mention for this year’s competition were Reed Heintzkill, Courtney Pagenkopf, Holly Plamann, Alex Stenner and Timothy Zietz.

Giving Back: Celebrating 25 years of student environmental research

top-story-researchTen University of Wisconsin-Green Bay students will report on research conducted in UW-Green Bay natural areas at the 25th annual Cofrin Student Symposium, scheduled from 1-5 p.m. Tuesday, March 4 in the Christie Theatre of the University Union on campus, 2420 Nicolet Drive.

The symposium marks a quarter-century of student research and more 140 students whose research has been funded by an endowment established by the Cofrin family. The program also will include recognition of the recipient of the Paul and Thea Sager Scholarship for excellence in scientific writing, presented to Holly Plamann, for her paper entitled “Can Added Sugar Intake Increase the Risk of Developing Pancreatic Cancer?” The event is free and open to the public.

Six undergraduate and four graduate students will present their results. Two graduate students will present on their thesis research associated in part with the Cat Island Chain restoration in the bay of Green Bay. Tim Flood is working to restore native aquatic vegetation and improve habitat for fish and waterfowl in the Cat Island restoration area, while Tom Prestby is identifying and mapping shorebird habitat along the lower Green Bay coastal zone, including UW-Green Bay natural areas and Cat Island.

Two student projects were focused on the identification of bat assemblages in northeastern Wisconsin. Graduate student Jessica Kempke will discuss her research to identify bat migration patterns along the Lake Michigan coast. In a continuation of research started in 2012, Brianna Kupsky will report on bat species living in UW-Green Bay natural areas.

Several studies by UW-Green Bay undergraduates focused on understanding the ecology of the Cofrin Memorial Arboretum or nearby Point au Sable Nature Preserve. Two students used a combination of observation and cameras to learn about the behavior of mammals and the use of burrows on the Cofrin Arboretum. Christa Meyer will report on the behavior of breeding red foxes and Amanda Johnson will discuss the ecological importance of woodchuck burrows on campus. Education major Amanda Nothem developed a curriculum that will allow K-12 educators to bring groups of students to the Cofrin Arboretum to study water and atmospheric science. After the symposium the equipment and curriculum will be available for checkout through the Education department.

During the symposium, student Linda Vang will report on the dispersal of wildflower seeds by ants in Mahon Woods. Sravani Karnam will describe a mathematical model she designed, based on water chemistry and zooplankton data that will predict trophic level changes in the Arboretum ponds. Haley Sharpe will report on her study of the types of fungi that are collected by woodpeckers as they forage for insect larvae in the Point au Sable forest.

Prof. Robert Howe, director of the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity at UW-Green Bay, will introduce and moderate the session.

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Photos provided by the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity

Student paper on sugar/cancer relationship earns 2014 Sager Scholarship

The Cofrin Center for Biodiversity has announced the selection of Holly Plamann as recipient of the 2014 Sager Scholarship for her paper titled “Can Added Sugar Intake Increase the Risk of Developing Pancreatic Cancer?” The Sager Scholarship recognizes excellence in science writing based on undergraduate student research. Plamann will receive a $1,000 award, available for spring semester, with formal recognition during the annual Cofrin Student Grant Symposium on March 4. This competitive award was created by emeriti faculty Paul and Thea Sager in memory of Chancellor Emeritus Edward Weidner. Plamann’s paper was written for an assignment in Medical Nutrition Therapy II taught by Professor Sara Schmitz. The assignment was designed to hone students’ skills in analyzing and critiquing recent peer-reviewed literature and to improve their ability to communicate their results to the community of nutrition professionals.

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Honorable mention — Recognized for honorable mention in this year’s Sager paper competition were students Jamie Lowis, Brittany Pyatt, and Ran Zhao. The interdisciplinary selection committee consisted of faculty members Michael Draney (Biology, Natural and Applied Sciences), James Marker (Biology and Human Biology), Amanda Nelson (Biology and Human Biology), and Le Zhu (Nutritional Science and Human Biology).