GSC News

GSC Students Present Research Projects to Legislators


For more information:
Bob Edwards
Public Relations Department
Glenville State College
(304) 462- 6390

Glenville, WV—The 10th annual Undergraduate Research Day was held in the West Virginia State Capitol rotunda on Thursday, January 28th. Undergraduate Research Day is sponsored by the Higher Education Policy Commission Division of Science and Research and the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts.

Two GSC students were among the approximately one-hundred students from fifteen colleges and universities in West Virginia who were selected to present seventy-five undergraduate research projects to members of the state legislature. This event helps state lawmakers understand the importance of undergraduate research by talking directly with the students whom these programs impact.

Johnny King is a senior Natural Resource Management major with a concentration in Forest Technology. He lives in Glenville, West Virginia. His research project is ‘Forest stand management techniques and rainfall amounts improve diameter growth of yellow poplar.’  GSC Associate Professor of Forestry Dr. Rico M. Gazal was King’s research advisor. Their study of annual growth rings of yellow poplar revealed that positive diameter growth could be achieved with the application of silvicultural treatments and that dendrochronology is an effective means to evaluate the effect of forest management techniques on stand growth. The study also shows that the amount of rainfall only has an effect on the amount of diameter growth during the early stage of the trees life, and that other non-climatic variables may also be controlling tree growth such as slope, soil, and stand density.

Ryan Sink (left) and Johnny King in the Capitol rotunda.

Ryan Sink (left) and Johnny King in the Capitol rotunda.

“This was my first experience presenting my research at the Capitol. I felt it was a great setting to show the extensive research conducted by undergraduates in our state. It was also a great chance to express the gratitude of the students to the house and senate members who help fund the conference,” said King.

‘Comparative analysis of leaf structure and physiological characteristics of Ailanthus altissima in cool and warm temperate regions’ is the research project conducted by GSC junior Natural Resource Management major Ethan Epling of Spencer (Roane County), West Virginia under the guidance of Dr. Gazal.

“My experience at Undergraduate Research Day was very interesting. I learned that there are many in depth projects being conducted at many of the colleges and universities in West Virginia. It was a humbling experience presenting our poster to the senators and other visitors,” said Epling.

To understand key attributes associated with the successful establishment and invasion of Ailanthus altissima, the research team examined leaf structure and ecophysiological characteristics in two sites located in different climatic regions: a cool temperature region in Glenville, West Virginia, and a warm temperature region in Fukuoka, Japan.  Ailanthus altissima, commonly known as the tree of heaven, was introduced in both the United States and Japan from China and is considered an invasive species that threatens natural forests.

GSC students Ryan Sink (left) and Ethan Epling meet with West Virginia House of Delegates Majority Leader Brent Boggs (D – Braxton County)

GSC students Ryan Sink (left) and Ethan Epling meet with West Virginia House of Delegates Majority Leader Brent Boggs (D – Braxton County)

GSC senior Natural Resource Management major Ryan Sink of Cowen (Webster County), West Virginia also attended Undergraduate research Day to assist Epling with his presentation. “Going to an event like this for the first time and seeing the impressive research presented by my peers gave me a great deal of confidence in my generation’s ability to help maintain a productive country and confidence in myself to achieve a career in my field of study. I would sincerely like to thank my professor Rico Gazal and all other people responsible for giving me the opportunity to have this experience,” said Sink.

Epling’s project was a continuation of research that was conducted by 2012 GSC graduates Marilynn Burkowski and Ryan Thomas who presented their findings at the 2012 Undergraduate research Day.

“Our students in Land Resources were fortunate to be given the chance to be at this event. I am confident that they were able to maximize the benefits of collecting and analyzing data of their own research project and presenting them to the scientific community in West Virginia,” said Dr. Gazal.

For more information about these research projects or the Glenville State College Department of Land Resources, visit or call (304) 462-4135.

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