Unity College Faculty Research

Unity College Faculty Research

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Unity College faculty are engaged in a number of exciting research projects with undergraduate students. Read below to get an idea of just how diverse the scholarly pursuits are. If you share any common interests with these faculty members, feel free to contact them to inquire about possibly joining their research team.

Dr. Amy Arnett
I consider myself an ecology generalist. To me, this means that I am interested in multiple questions in ecology -- including behavior, species-interactions, community structure, and biogeography. My research includes the study of the evolution of populations, the impact of invasive species on native communities, climate change education, the biodiversity of ant communities and the resilience of forests to invasive pests. I am currently most actively involved in the study of ant biodiversity in hemlock forests in Maine and how this diversity changes with logging and invasive species. Please see my faculty page for more information.

Dr. Ellen Batchelder
I am a cell biologist by training and I am fascinated by in everything that cells do, and how they do it.  Microscopes are key tools to visualizing what goes on at the cellular level. My research has included extensive work with microscopy and on cellular movement in the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, a small soil nematode whose transparent cells and small size make it a useful organism for studies of cell processes and development.  I am currently working with a genetic screen in C. elegans to identify new factors that control when cells divide. Here at Unity College I hope to translate my background with C. elegans to projects that have a wider focus on biodiversity. To that end, I am collecting and identifying soil nematodes in Hemlock forests (in conjunction with HEMS).  Depending on the interest of students other projects are possible, including collaborative projects with Emma Creaser to stain and localize molecules in tardigrades, various questions of nematode diversity, or projects involving cells or molecular processes.

Dr. Emma Creaser
I am interested in invertebrate zoology and evolution and incorporate student research into many of my classes. Students in Invertebrate Zoology get a taste of my research into tardigrades.  Marine Biology students study the biology, behavior and ecology of starfish, molluscs and Anurida maritima (a marine insect).  In Costa Rica we are busy finding and identifying the Pacific Ocean marine.  If you have an interesting project or idea about an invertebrate that you’d like to investigate, I am always interested. In my current research I am working on documenting the tardigrades of Maine.  Maine is a big place, but we are collecting moss, lichen and leaf litter throughout the entire state so there is a lot of work to do.  Some of it even includes documenting and describing new species. Please visit my website.

Dr. Carrie Diaz Eaton
I am always looking for students interested in research experiences. Ticks, zombies, education, you name it! I love complementing student interests with my geeky mathematical approach (not that stats isn't awesome, but my area is in mechanistic approaches to modeling), and help them mold those interests into a thesis later. I am open to independent studies in modeling if you have your own project you are interested in exploring. I also have at least one work-study position open every year for a student interested in working on some data analysis and running extra office hours and study sessions for students in my classes. Please feel free to look at my faculty website and contact me with your interests.

Dr. Aimee Phillippi
I am interested in questions of evolutionary ecology, especially reproduction questions, and human-environment interactions.  I have primarily focused on marine systems, but I also have a great appreciation for fungi or interesting biological questions in general.  Currently I have a project examining the impacts of rockweed harvesting in the intertidal.  A number of students have been working with me on this project, participating in field sampling, sample sorting in the lab, and sediment analyses.  We are looking at how removal of Ascophyllum nodosum might alter the structure of the fauna community beneath.  In 2013, two students co-authored a poster on this research with me for an international conference.  I also have experience using molecular techniques in ecological research and am interested in continuing this, especially with students who want to add these skills to their science toolkit.  You can learn more about my research and interests on my website.

Dr. Kevin M. Spigel
My research interests include surface and groundwater hydrology, lake sediment archives of environmental change, and the application of computer models and GIS to better understand environmental problems and issues. Examples of projects completed in the past include hillslope runoff and soil erosion in response to a variety of landuse changes including anthropogenic and natural (wildfire) as well as several lake-sediment based reconstructions of environmental change in Wisconsin and Maine. My lake sediment research involves using environmental magnetism and other sediment properties, fossil pollen, and lake productivity to reconstruct climate and vegetation change since the Wisconsinan Glacial Period ended. Several of these research themes are integrated into the classes I teach including Soil Science, Surface and Groundwater Hydrology, and Lake Sedimentation. I have a series of data loggers deployed around campus as part of an environmental monitoring program which started in 2011. Involving undergraduate students in these research projects provides them with a more robust education in the earth and environmental science program and better prepares them for graduate work or a career in the geosciences. Click here for more information.

Dr. Mick Womersley
We have an ongoing research project to evaluate the wind power resources in the state of Maine. The primary goal is to provide useful publicly owned data and interpretation across a wide geographical area to help farmers, rural communities, and planning decision makers make good choices regarding the planning of wind power developments. Currently most good wind data suitable for wind power planning are privately owned by wind power companies and unavailable to the public or the government. Students become involved through anemometry projects associated with physics and energy classes. Some take up employment as summer research crewmembers. They get training in industrial health and safety (OSHA), in scientific anemometry, in industrial rigging, in computer record keeping, in the mathematical and geographical analysis of wind power resources, and in professional interaction with the general public and with planning authorities in the state of Maine.