Six Students Present at Ecology Conference

by sfsmith on April 19, 2014

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Six Roanoke College Students recently presented their research projects at the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Ecological Society of America Conference at the University of Maryland on March 29, 2014. The students who attended and presented at the conference were Steph Clements, Thomas Granger, Hannah Johnson, Teresha Santos, Lauren Strong, and Elsa Wieboldt and their faculty mentor was Dr. Rachel Collins. Steph Clements won for best undergraduate poster presentation and Lauren Strong won for best undergraduate oral presentation.

Elsa Wieboldt (’15) is in her third year of doing research and her project is about “the way that land use affects earthworms and the way that the earthworms affect the productivity of the land.” As far as working with Dr. Collins, Elsa explained:

“I really love the experience of working in a close one-on-one setting with a professor. It allows for a personal as well as a professional relationship. Because the professor knows you well they are able to advise you about research in a way that really fits you and the way that you achieve best and succeed.”

Elsa Wieboldt Elsa Wieboldt


Steph Clements (’14) is in her first semester of research and in her research she is studying “the effect that diversity has on ecosystem stability using a microcosm experiment including three diversity treatments and multiple trophic levels.” In terms of working with Dr. Collins, Steph stated:

“She was incredibly helpful every step of the way and I worked very closely with her on the whole project. She helped me figure out an experimental design that would be practical for me to complete in one semester and assisted me in the analysis of my results. I met with her a couple of times every week and she even came in on weekends to help me with the project when needed.”

This conference marked Steph’s first time presenting her research at a professional conference and she expressed that

“it was an incredible experience to get to present my research to others in the field of ecology. I enjoyed explaining the work that I have been doing and hearing what people thought about the research that I had been working on. It was also a neat opportunity to get to hear from other important people in the field of ecology who were presenting their own work at the conference as well.”

Clements, Johnson, Wieboldt, Santos, Granger, Strong, Collins  Clements, Johnson, Wieboldt, Santos, Granger, Strong, Collins


For students considering research opportunities Elsa feels that

“research at Roanoke is an amazing opportunity because you get to experience something that most people cannot until graduate school. You often have the opportunity to create your own project with the help of a professor, along the lines of what is interesting to you. The opportunity of getting to know a professor so well and be involved in research, both theirs and yours, is extremely valuable.  These relationships are resources for life.  You get to have real life experiences while still in college. Significant and lasting knowledge occurs through these out of class room experience – Don’t pass up this opportunity!”

For more info on the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Ecological Society of America, visit:

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