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Moravian College

Paige Malewski '16

"Determination of the diversity of native bees and their potential heavy metal ingestion in grassland remediation area at the Lehigh Gap Wildlife Refuge"

 Hometown: Orwigsburg , PA
 Project Advisers: Dr. Diane Husic 

Briefly describe your project

The project involved traveling to an EPA superfund site in Palmerton, PA that had been home to smelting companies which caused zinc and cadmium contamination in the surrounding area.  We wanted to determine if the insects, especially bees, were uptaking metals from the plants contaminated with zinc. They were then digested with acid and put into an atomic absorption spectrometer to read potential levels of zinc. Final results will still be analyzed during this Fall semester.

Describe the origin of your project. (E.g., did you pitch the idea and choose a faculty member, or did they come to you with an idea?)

I asked my Biochemistry teacher if she was working on anything this summer and was willing to take me on as a research student. She then described to me the project and others who were interested in the work.

What’s the best part about working with your faculty mentor? What valuable insights have they brought to your project?

They are always challenging me to see the bigger picture and teach me new things about the environment, chemistry, and more. My faculty mentor was a very supportive professor and someone I was happy to have the opportunity to work with. 

What has been your biggest obstacle so far?

The biggest obstacle was getting through technical difficulties with the instruments used in the lab. Not everything goes smoothly all the time and it  takes time to fix which can be a frustrating part of research. 

What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

My biggest takeaway was definitely the importance of teamwork and research. The learning experience was extremely valuable.