Centenary University Students Conduct Research at Sandy Hook and Other Locations

Dr. Lauren Bergey, Associate Professor of Biology and Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at Centenary University, has been conducting a scientific research study this summer in estuaries and boat docks along the New Jersey coast with students Kate Arnao, (Mine Hill, N.J) , Scarlett Welfel (Vernon, N.J.) Ryan Van Vliet (Sussex, N.J.), and alumna Hollianne Eckerd (Budd Lake, NJ).

While in the field, Dr. Bergey and her students survey which shrimp species are present and their fecundity (how many have eggs) as well as track the spread of an invasive species from Japan. Dr. Bergey and her students received training from Dr. James Carlton, Professor of Marine Science, Emeritus, at Williams College in Mystic, Connecticut on how to positively identify each of the species based on anatomy and dissection.

Five years ago, Dr. Bergey, along with her then research students, Susan Cheng ’13 and Erika Chu ‘13, were the first to find an invasive species called Palaemon macrodactylus, the Asian Shrimp in the state of N.J. Their names are listed in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. as part of a nationwide group of scientists tracking the spread of this species. This work was also highlighted in The Record, and Dr. Bergey was interviewed by CBS New York reporter Elise Finch about the findings.

“Not a lot of undergraduate students have the chance to be involved in undergraduate research projects that can really provide them with an edge when they graduate,” says Dr. Bergey. “I am proud that, at Centenary, such important opportunities are available to our students.”

Kate Arnao, a junior biology major at Centenary, has designed a research project to determine how light intensity impacts the distribution of shrimp species within the water column including the non-native species from Japan.

In addition, Dr. Balwant Chohan, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Centenary University, has been conducting research this summer with student R.J. Ackerman. The on-going project is based on Dr. Chohan’s SMILE (Small Mobile Instruments for Lab Enhancement) initiative. The latest instrument involves a student-built portable conductivity meter that was constructed for less than $35. In order to fully characterize the newly instrument, students have been designing, developing and testing several lab experiments, and then compare results with data obtained from various commercially available conductivity probes. Data sets have been collected and analyzed from local bodies of water (a dozen different sites in the Hackettstown area were sampled). A related project has investigated the sorption characteristics of the chemical components that make up domestic water filters. The results of these studies will be published in the near future.

To learn more about Dr. Bergey’s background and research projects, please click here.