Artis College faculty receive award to study impacts of pipeline installation
Radford University’s Artis College of Science and Technology is the recipient of a 2019 Jeffress Trust Award. This award will support faculty and students as they research and explore the impact of pipeline construction on streams in Southwest Virginia.
Tara Pelletier, Ph.D., and Jamie Lau, Ph.D., assistant professors in the Department of Biology, along with Kristina Stefaniak, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, received a one-year, $120,000 award to support innovative interdisciplinary strategies to integrate computational and quantitative scientific methods.
The award supports research to quantify the habitat, water chemistry, insect diversity and environmental DNA in the flowing water of stream sites before and after the installation of the natural gas pipeline in Roanoke County. From this data, a predictive model using a machine learning algorithm will be built to provide risk-assessment profiles and post-modification restoration plans for future projects that require extreme habitat modification, such as natural gas pipeline implementation.
Pelletier, Lau and Stefaniak said, “We are excited about this research project, because we are using our expertise from three fields to capture the impact of the pipeline on our local streams.”
The research combines the expertise of the Department of Biology and the Department of Chemistry, which gives students in the Artis College of Science and Technology a unique experience to collaborate on this interdisciplinary project.
The award provides financial support for four undergraduate students during the Spring 2020 semester and over the summer. The students will gain experience on sampling techniques in the field, as well learning laboratory techniques to analyze the water chemistry, insect diversity and environmental DNA.
Project team members explained this is a great opportunity for students to work closely with the community and local landowners.
About the Jeffress Memorial Trust
The Jeffress Memorial Trust was founded in 1981 by Robert M. Jeffress in memory of his parents and is guided by its mission to benefit the people of Virginia and their research in chemical, medical or other scientific fields. The Jeffress Trust awards support high impact, innovative one-year projects that integrate computational and quantitative scientific methodologies across a broad range of scientific disciplines.