GSC News

GSC Students Present Research Projects to Legislators

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 14, 2012

For more information:
Bob Edwards
Public Relations Department
Glenville State College
(304) 462-7361ext. 6390

Glenville, WV—Glenville State College was well represented at the 9th annual Undergraduate Research Day held in the West Virginia State Capitol rotunda on Thursday, January 26th.

Three GSC students, Hillary Harold, Marilynn Burkowski and Ryan Thomas, were among the approximately one-hundred students from colleges and universities in West Virginia who were selected to present their 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.

GSC students, Ryan Thomas, Hillary Harold, and Marilynn Burkowski pose with GSC Department of Science and Mathmatics Chair Dr. Gary Morris at Undergraduate Research Day.

GSC students (L-R) Ryan Thomas, Hillary Harold, and Marilynn Burkowski pose with GSC Department of Science and Mathmatics Chair Dr. Gary Morris at Undergraduate Research Day.

“Research opens both intellectual and very real opportunities for students. Presenting at the Capitol enabled these students to meet with their legislators and interact with students and faculty from other schools. I’m proud of the accomplishments of our students,” said Dr. Milan Vavrek, GSC professor of Natural Resource Management and Land Resources Department Chair.

Marilynn Burkowski is a senior Natural Resource Management major with a concentration in Forest Technology. She lives in Glenville, West Virginia. Her research project, Exotic plant invasion in West Virginia, studied the threat that invasives pose to native species. “Participating in the Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol was a great opportunity to share my research on invasive species with state legislators and interested citizens,” said Burkowski.  Her research mentor was Dr. Rico Gazal, GSC Associate Professor of Forestry. “Marilynn’s research is important to everyone in West Virginia.  Exotic species have impacted our ecosystems and production of natural resources. It was a pleasure to observe people’s responses to her work,” said Vavrek.

Ryan Thomas of St. Albans, West Virginia is also a senior majoring in Natural Resource Management with a concentration in Forestry. “Undergraduate Research Day was a great learning experience for all of us students. It helped us learn to communicate our ideas to others. I enjoyed seeing how other students and professors presented their research,” said Thomas. His research, Long-term leaf phenology study in West Virginia, was conducted with Dr. Gazal. “Ryan’s research relating bud burst with elevation may suggest how the life-cycle of plant species may change with global warming. It is interesting to see the relationship using data from across West Virginia,” stated Vavrek.

Hillary Harold is a junior who lives in Roane County, West Virginia and is majoring in Natural Resource Management. Her research project, Depth to permafrost of Eriophorum vaginatum across a latitudinal gradient in northern Alaska, was conducted with Dr. Vavrek. “Hillary did a great job summarizing her research. The research represents a lot of effort and a lot of time, and could be continued in graduate school,” said Vavrek. Her research studied the effect of the permafrost on plant life in Alaska. The project was inspired by Harold’s internship with the National Science Foundation in Alaska last summer. “It was uplifting to know that we as students could show off our hard work and represent our institution among other institutions. It was a great future employer connection as well as meeting new friends and discussing possible popular future research ideas,” said Harold.

“I am glad that Marilynn, Ryan and Hillary were able to present their research projects at this meeting. It was an excellent way to showcase the ecological projects in which our students are involved. The presentations also make everyone aware of our Natural Resource Management, Forestry and Environmental Science programs at GSC. Each of these students made a valuable contribution on key ecological issues such as early leaf appearance in the spring, proliferation of plant invasives in West Virginia, and the relationship between plant performance and soil temperature in Alaska. These issues are crucial to understand long-term effects of global climate change,” said Dr. Gazal.

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

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