Lauren Ziemer, of Arlington, named Marsh-Mosakowski NOAA Fellow at Clark University

Senior is studying coastal estuaries in Maine

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Lauren Ziemer of Clark University

WORCESTER, MA (07/16/2012)(readMedia)-- Clark University student Lauren G. Ziemer, of Arlington, is conducting research this summer at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve in Maine, thanks to a partnership between two Clark institutes and the federal agency charged with watching over the health of our skies and oceans.

Ziemer is one of only five students to be named a Marsh-Mosakowski NOAA Fellow. The fellowship program, which includes generous summer research stipends, was established this year by Clark's George Perkins Marsh Institute and Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise, in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Ziemer's research project, "Coastal Ecology Research Supporting Ecosystem-based Management," entails field and lab work studying estuaries at the Wells Reserve on the Maine coast. She is monitoring changes in the marsh vegetation from the effects of increased amounts of freshwater and nutrient runoff from land-use shifts and climate change, such as sea level rise. Ziemer also is leading a wading bird survey for the Wells Reserve.

"Wading birds (herons, egrets, osprey, etc.) are toward the top of the food chain and as such are good indicators of the health of the marsh," she writes. "We go to the marsh at high tide when we can see the birds more easily and note the amounts and species of the wading birds. I am currently creating a GIS database of the bird sightings from past years. I am working on a smaller study which is assessing the species of butterflies around the Wells Reserve."

Ziemer already is seeing her work put into effective practice: Tide gate statistics she calculated were presented at a meeting between landowners, her internship supervisor and a town council member to help negotiate future adjustments to the tide gate. Finally, she is assisting the Merriland River-Branch Brook-Little River (Maine) project, analyzing how land-use practices are affecting the health of the watershed.

Ziemer, who will be a senior this fall at Clark, majors in environmental science. Last summer she was among a select group of undergraduates from around the country to be named a HERO Fellow at Clark. Her research involved mapping land cover change in Massachusetts through field investigation and GIS analysis. Her Clark faculty mentor is Associate Professor John Rogan, of the School of Geography at Clark.

A Dean's List honors student and scholar-athlete at Clark, Ziemer is a standout member of the varsity tennis team and is active in Hillel and Concert Choir. She is a 2009 graduate of Arlington High School.

At a spring-semester reception for the 2012 NOAA fellows, Mosakowski Institute Director James Gomes noted that their work illustrates the perfect union of research and practice. The partnership, he said, was the result partly of a visit to Clark last year by top NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, who spoke about strides that have been made, as well as the ongoing challenges, in developing a sustainable future.

Professor Robert Johnston, director of the Marsh Institute, said the NOAA partnership links Clark students with scientists and peer-to-peer researchers from around the country. Johnston noted the program is emblematic of the University's adoption of Liberal Education and Effective Practice, which deepens students' education by combining classroom learning with real-world engagement. "This is the sort of thing that LEEP is all about," he said.

Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a small, liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark's pioneering model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences. Clark's faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to contemporary challenges in the areas of psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University's motto: Challenge convention. Change our world.