Providence College

Environmental Conservation

Research Grants

The following proposals were selected and funded. All include experiential involvement of students.

Population Ecology and Phenology of a Rare Butterfly and its Host Plant, Rachael E. Bonoan, PhD.

The frosted elfin is a species of concern in 11 states—including RI, MA, and CT.  The research will seek to determine how climate change affects host plant phenology and nutrition, to track frosted elfin population size at Gavins Pond (GP) in Sharon/Foxboro, MA, to further understand population dynamics, and to determine frosted elfin population size and indigo abundance in New London County to search for a suitable frosted elfin field site for future experiments.

Breelyn Gilbert
Isabelle Heron

Breelyn Gilbert (left) and Isabelle Heron (right) in the field conducting Frosted Elfin research (Photos courtesy of Providence College)

Who’s there? Tools for the rapid assessment of biodiversity in southern New England waters, Jeffrey Markert, PhD.

This research will build on previous research experience by adding metabarcoding technology to the mix which will allow faculty and students to conduct an extensive community census.  This enhanced metabarcoding approach will be used to 1) obtain a comprehensive community analysis of fish species at our target estuary sites and 2) monitor estuaries and freshwaters for the presence of introduced and invasive species like the Asian Clam (Corbicula fluminae), the Mystery Snail (Cipangopaludina chinensis), and the Mitten Crab (Eriocheir sinensis).  C. fluminae is now present in places like the Pawcatuck River and the Great Swamp.  E. sinensis is present in Connecticut but (apparently) not yet in Rhode Island.  The potential of metabarcoding to track the expansion of these and other introduced species is intriguing, and researchers hope to work with the managers of the Westerly Land Trust and the Great Swamp management area to use these low footprint methods to follow the health of their endemic communities.

Environment Biology Internship Program Funding

Three students received SNEC support this year to pursue internships at:

  • Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA
  • Mystic Aquarium, Mystic, CT
  • Save the Bay, Providence, RI

Equipment Grants

SNEC awarded a grant to purchase two Hach DR6000 UV-VIS Laboratory Spectrophotometers for water quality analysis and the associated consumable supplies. This equipment will be utilized to provide hands-on experiences for faculty-student collaborative teaching and research.

Biological Imaging at Providence College, Joseph A DeGiorgis, PhD

This grant was awarded a to purchase a RED GEMINI 5K S35 DSMC2 Camera. A great deal of scientific investigation relies on detailed visual observations and visual recording of biology and biological phenomena. The RED Gemini camera body will support many of the professional quality camera lenses currently owned by Providence College. The camera will be used by student and faculty in the classroom as well as the laboratory setting and will become a permanent part of the PC Aquatic Studio.

Mitchell College

Environmental Science

Research Grants

The following proposal was selected and funded. It includes experiential involvement of students.

Marine Invasive Species Research; Examination of the Ecological Impacts on Competing Species from the Invasion of Tricellaria, Christine Ramsay, PhD

The objectives of this ongoing research project are to examine geographical distribution of the non-native bryozoan, Tricellaria inopinata, in the Western North Atlantic, including Long Island Sound, determine the ability of the non-native Tricellaria to outcompete and replace native species, and assess the extent of the invasion on marine infrastructure facilitating management and eradication decisions. This year’s research investigated the ecological impacts on competing species from the invasion of Tricellaria with the assistance of a student Research Assistant.

Tyler Daly and Ahmani Browne had the opportunity to attend the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Annual Conference (SICB) in Austin, Texas on 3 January to 8 January 2023 to present the research conducted with Professor Christine Ramsay over the last two years in Mitchell College biology lab. SICB is a national conference with over two-thousand scientists from around the country as well as several international scientists. Their posters on their research were well received by scientists and conference attendees.

(L-R) Prof. Christine Ramsay, Tyler Daly, and Amani Browne
Ahmani Browne SICB Presentation: Physiological tolerance to salinity predict the invasion of a marine biofouler Tricellaria inopinata.
Tyler Daly SICB Presentation: Predicting the spread of an invasive marine fouling organism using physiological temperature tolerances. (Photos courtesy of Mitchell College).

Environmental Conservation Internship Program

SNEC has partnered with Mitchell College to encourage experiential learning in environmental conservation.  Foundation funding will allow students pursuing a degree in marine biology and environmental science to participate in internship experiences and receive financial support.

Roger Williams University

Art and Historic Preservation

Experiential Learning Internship Program

In 2022 SNEC and Roger Williams University (RWU) embarked on a partnership to create opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in internships, experiential learning, national conferences, and other experiences relevant to historic preservation. Most of the support would provide students with a stipend to enable them to pursue unpaid internships in historic preservation, without sacrificing financially. The partnership will also support the hire of practitioner faculty to team teach advanced preservation courses as content experts, bringing industry insight into the classroom. Team-taught courses provide students with hands-on learning in historic preservation, while creating a meaningful internship pipeline between RWU students and partner organizations.

Salve Regina University

Art and Historic Preservation 

Experiential Learning Internship Program

One student received SNEC support this year to pursue internships at:

  • Island Cemetery Association, Newport, RI
Grills Lecture Series

SNEC funded Morrison Heckscher, the former Lawrence A. Fleischman Chairman of The American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as the Richard A. Grills Keynote Speaker in Historic Preservation at the annual Cultural and Historic Preservation Conference.

Rose Island Field Station and School

SNEC partnered with Salve Regina University (SRU) to create a multidisciplinary field school on Rose Island in Newport Harbor. The grant funded field station inaugural outfitting, student and faculty research stipends, transportation and materials and supplies. The objectives for this project are to:

  1. Develop the Rose Island Field School as a focal point for introducing Salve Regina students to place-based education and research opportunities.
  2. Continue the natural science field work and measurement of long term and current impacts of human activity on the natural environment. Beyond scientific study, natural science interns will develop educational resources for the many visitors to the island and will assist with developing materials for delivery to local K-12 schools.
  3. Continue the work of historic preservation of the 1800’s fortifications to understand their history and document the built environment for the WWII era torpedo arming and storage on the island. Beyond scientific study, preservation interns would also develop educational resources for visitors to Rose Island and assist with the preparation of interpretive history materials for use in local K-12 schools.
  4. Involve colleagues from the departments of history and education to develop a strong internship program for natural, cultural, and historical tours of the island and to guide the creation of a range of grade-appropriate education materials for K-12 student use in the classroom and for site visits to the island and lay the foundation for a summer 2023 teacher training program at Rose Island.
Salve Regina University students Zach, Kyle, Ashley, Max, and Brie on Rose Island (June 30, 2022)
Ashley Caputo presented her findings to staff and donors of the university. (Photos courtesy of Salve Regina University).

Ochre Court Historic Landscape Research and Restoration

SNEC and SRU completed the plan to restore the landscape architecture of Ochre Court. Students involved in this project gained hands-on experience of all the phases of landscape restoration under the direction of a recognized expert in the field.

Westerly Land Trust

Environmental Conservation

Internship Programs

In 2022 SNEC broadened its partnership with the Westerly Land Trust (WLT) by adding a second paid internship to the program. In addition to the WLT Staff Intern the second intern worked as the Sustainable Farm Support Intern who assists and learns from the farmers co-located on the WLT Barlow Property. With assistance from WLT staff, interns from the University of Rhode Island and from Assumption College, in Worcester, MA were placed in these two positions.

WLT Summer Interns - Emma Stahl (standing left) and Andie Ricciutti (kneeling) with students (courtesy of WLT)