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Project Descriptions

Project Descriptions

by Steve Roof -
Number of replies: 4

Please use "Reply" and add your description of your project, using the following templae:

  • Your name:
  • Title of your independent study or project:
  • Your faculty supervisors:
  • Your overall objectives of your project:
  • Your planned contributions to the Apr 15th Plan:
  • Your planned outcomes & products for your project:
  • Your goals for THIS week:
  • Your goals for NEXT week:
  • The thing you are most excited to do:
In reply to Steve Roof

Emily Waters- SOIL

by Emily Waters -

Name: Emily Waters

Title: “Soil analysis of Hampshire College Lawns”

Faculty: Steve Roof is my official faculty supervisor, potentially will work with Beth Hooker and other soil NS faculty.

I would like to develop an interesting project examining the soil and microbial communities of Hampshire’s lawns versus other land uses, that can be an interesting project, while also contributing to the April 15th plan by providing data on the soils of the PPs for conversion.

As of now, I have three basic ideas/questions to consider, in order to make this project a little bit more interesting than just doing soil analysis and providing data:

  1. Hampshire lawns compared to what they may look like if mowing ceases: This would entail identifying parcels of land in the area that were previously maintained as lawns, and have since (preferably at different time intervals) been restored to meadowlands.  We could do soil analysis on Hampshire’s lawn parcels, hay fields, pasture fields, and meadowlands in the area (1, 3, 5, 10 years since mowing stopped).  This could potentially provide a nice story describing what changes to the microbial communities and ecological functions if we restore these parcels to meadowlands.
  2. Examining land use history:  We could do the same analysis on Hampshire’s lawns, but compare this to previous land use history.  This may include fertilizer application history, number of years maintained as lawn, land use before lawn, etc.
  3. The ecological homogenization of America:  This project might include comparing the data from our soil analysis to other lawn soil data from around the country.  Obviously a lawn in Amherst, MA looks exactly like lawns in Phoenix, Seattle, Miami, Chicago, etc.  Is this true of the soil ecology?  What are the implications of this?


I think all of these projects could be quite interesting, while also helping with the April 15th plan.  I think a big first step for me is discussing these projects with the other students interested in studying soil.  If the other students would be interested in collaborating, this could expand the scope of the soil analysis and potential lab work, and also questions that we could address.  I think it would be really great to measure soil organic matter, microbial biomass, NO3- and NH4+ concentrations, and soil respiration.  Depending on the number of hands, we could also do potential net N mineralization and nitrification, humic/humans or some measurement of labile carbon, and potentially some soil enzyme activity.  I am fairly unfamiliar with Hampshire’s lab facilities, so I definitely need some help from NS staff/faculty about what options we have for these measurements.  Some of this would also need funding.


My goals for this and next week are to meet with other NS students who may be interested in helping me with this project.  I would also like to talk to other NS staff/faculty for any feedback on any of these project ideas and determining what of my suggested measurements we can do at Hampshire (I have also heard some discussion of sending soil samples off campus for analysis).  I think once these guidelines have been narrowed down I/we can come up with a full proposal in the coming weeks, including protocols and a budget.


I am really excited to get to really apply my research interests to a project that could really make a long-term impact on the ecology of Hampshire!  I am also excited to be able to take a break from writing my Div 3 and get some time in the field and lab.  I am also very scared that this will suck up so much of my time and I won’t be able to write my Div 3. 

In reply to Steve Roof

Re: Project Descriptions

by Jackson Tilley -

Jackson Tilley’s Independent study

Title: Investigation of plants and desired wildlife  for meadowlands development at Hampshire College.

Faculty: Ken Hoffman

Objectives: Investigate what specific kinds of plants we may want for our development of meadowlands, this may include different varieties of meadows such as grassy/berry tree, wildflower meadows, perhaps with some perennial and annual plants (different test plots are being discussed). I intend to familiarize and be able to identify a wide range of these potential plants and learn, through online, book, and especially people with specific experiences which meadows would overall be best for the different fields we are looking at in Hampshire. A big part of deciding this is figuring out and deciding what specific species of wildlife we want to provide habitat, so this will also be part of my project. There has previously been a focus on birds, however we are also considering the wildlife of many insects (especially butterflies), and small mammals (and perhaps turtles?). 

Lastly, I intend to establish a conversation between this meadowlands project and the hichcock center, which will be moving to Hampshire relatively soon and pretty close to where some of the meadowland will likely be. I intend to make them aware of our ideas and encourage feedback or input on ideas.

This week, I have been emailing different people in the Amherst community (Tim Watt of the Hichcock center, another Hampshire faculty, the Amherst Conservation Commission, ect.) and telling them about our project and seeing if they are interested to help, or just meet with me and discuss it and their experiences with meadowlands or meadowlands development.  I am also perusing online resources to help educate me about certain varieties of plants commonly found in meadowlands or wildflower meadows. 

I am meeting with Ken on friday and by then I believe I will have a much better idea of what i'll be doing next week and beyond for my reserch. 

In reply to Steve Roof

Re: Project Descriptions

by Jacob Drucker -

Jacob Drucker


Div II Committee: Charles Ross, Charlene D'Avanzo

I hope to figure out which tracts of land to manage specifically for target bird species, and how to do so based on specific techniques, and find a way to keep this plan going after I leave Hampshire.

For the April 15th meeting, I can have a current and past summary of the open area birds that utilize the open areas of Hampshire campus, as well as examples in which other places have managed for open area birds. 

For this week I plan to contact the people who surveyed Hampshire for the Massachusetts Breeding Bird Atlas II, to find out which species use campus when studends are away. 

For next week I plan to contact Jeff Bolsinger, who is in charge of grassland bird management at Fort Drum, NY and see what advice he has to offer, as well as contacting the owners of That's A Plenty Farm in Hadley, to see how they manage for birds and butterflies. 

I am most excited to follow up on the owners of That's A Plenty, and the Atlasers for the MA breeding bird atlas. 

In reply to Steve Roof

Re: Project Descriptions

by Rebekah Merck -

Bexx Merck Ind. Study

Faculty: Larry Winship


1. Research current meadowlands projects, collect precedents, look into the history of Hampshire's parcels and land use. 

2. Focus on soil quality and which plants best serve each parcel. I will be working closely with Larry Winship to study plant species for this area (native/non-native, perennial/annual, invasive/noninvasive). 

3. Engaging the community and connecting with the board of trustees or any other shareholders in Hampshire College to start a dialogue about what it means to carry-out this project.

4. Create an infographic or impact study about how mowed grass compares to converting to meadowland. 

For April 15, I hope to have contributed a very sound proposal of plants, including information about soil content and quality. 


2/22/2013 -- My plan for this coming week is to figure out what I will be presenting at the Second Annual Student Sustainability Roundtable at Hampshire on April 9. It will probably mainly consist of why this project is needed at Hampshire, why mowed grass is not something we support, why meadowlands are a better option, how plants can completely transform an ecosystem, etc.