Lake Erie College Senior Presents at Ohio Academy of Science Annual Meeting

Lake Erie College senior Rachel Ward ’22 recently had the opportunity to present at the Ohio Academy of Science (OAS) Annual Meeting at the University of Findlay. She presented a poster on “The Growth Impact Effects of Metal Cations, pH, and Carbon Nitrogen in Working Woods Forest Soil.”

The research Ward presented is for her senior capstone project. The paper is co-authored by Katie Stuble, Ph.D., Emma Dawson-Glass, Allen Fazenbaker, Kevin Mueller, Ph.D., Carla Rosenfield, Ph.D., Alexa Wagner, Richard West, Ph.D., and Johnathan Tedesco, Ph.D. Doctor Tedesco, Dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at LEC, advised Ward to submit her abstract in November. It was accepted as a poster presentation and will be published in the OAS journal.

Ward has had two internships in her time at Lake Erie College. The first internship was with Morton Salt Company and was the highest paid internship in LEC history. Her current internship is with The Holden Arboretum in the Working Woods Learning Laboratory. She has been with Working Woods since May of 2021 and started her data collection for her senior capstone project there in August, 2021. Over the summer she had a chance to do fieldwork with the other interns, which led to conclusions about her results for the project. She has also presented the project at the Lake Erie College Sustainability Speaker Series.

Working Woods is a learning laboratory at The Holden Arboretum that is a post-agricultural forest and is now being used to test the impacts of forest management treatments. Ward was given soil samples from the topsoil layer around the base of 122 trees in Working Woods and tested the pH, organic carbon and nitrogen contents, and four metal cations (calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium) and reactive iron. This is the research that led to her presentation at the OAS Annual Meeting on April 9, 2022.

“On behalf of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, we are all exceptionally proud of Rachel and what she has accomplished as a student,” says Dr. Tedesco. “In her time at LEC, she has been an exemplar of academic drive and always sought opportunities to maximize her experiences in and out of the classroom. Her research work with Holden is one of many examples along those lines. While we are excited for her to be moving on to graduate school, we will miss the academic focus, community engagement, general drive to better herself and those around her that Rachel brought every day to our building.”

In her time at LEC as a chemistry major with biology and applied research minors, Ward has also been the President of the Pre-Healthcare Professionals Club, a Power Up Student Leader, a member of The Laurel Society, a College Ambassador, and a member of the Outdoor Sustainability Skills Club. She’s a student worker in the library, in the mailroom, as an admissions tour guide, and as a lab worker in Austin. After graduation she’s heading to Youngstown State University to earn her Doctorate of Physical Therapy.

“I hope to continue on to get a Ph.D. because I want to teach and I want to continue doing research,” Ward said. “Part of reason I want to teach is because I like my professors here so much and how they’ve impacted me to this day and I want to help people like they’ve helped me.”