Donna Moore Powers

Let's Talk Trees

Corning Community College students from two classes in the Science, Technologies, Engineering, and Mathematics Division are conducting a baseline ecological study at the College’s Spencer Crest Nature Center. The research focuses on the identification of herbs, shrubs, trees, and soils by species, size, and location.

Led by Dr. Donna Moore Powers, CCC Professor of Biology, the study will span ten years, with a focus on the colonization of plants, tree and shrub growth, as well as changes in species’ richness and biodiversity over time. Data is also being collected on abiotic factors, such as soil chemistry, wind speed, relative humidity, light intensity, soil and air temperature.

“Incorporating meaningful research into our curricula is an important part of our pedagogical approach,” said Moore Powers, who has been with Corning Community College since 2000. “We are excited to offer first-year students the opportunity to dive into hands-on research.

While some research is done to teach methodology and the actual results are secondary, Moore Powers is excited because the evidence collected in this study will be put to good use.

“Future students will be asked to help analyze the data that these students are collecting,” said Moore-Powers. “The insights have the potential to influence ecological decisions made on this campus.”

To date, students in the Environmental Science and Ecology classes have set up eight transects, narrow sections through Spencer Crest, and have identified and measured trees in each transect.

“I’m excited to do something that will be helpful to the College,” said Griffin Bates, who lives in Bath, N.Y. “I also appreciate the opportunity to learn in ways other than just reading from a book. It’s harder to really dive into the subject when you’re just reading about it. This way, we’re really learning.”