Coastal Protection Research at Mitchell College
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In the photo: Mitchell College Trustee Kevin R. Hennessy presents a $30,000 grant from Dominion Resources, Inc. to Mitchell College Science and Service Beach
Project managers Joseph Salwocki ’14 and Alec Sahadi ’14 and Dr.
Victoria Brennan, Chemistry professor and Environmental Club advisor.
Mitchell College’s Science and Service Beach Project reached a new high
water mark of support in its 6-year history with a $30,000 research
grant from Dominion Resources, Inc. to continue work to save our coastline.
2007, hundreds of Mitchell College students have been working to
research and correct the erosion of the Mitchell Beach dune habitat,
replace invasive species with native plants, and bring back a
healthy biodiversity to this ecosystem. Recent super storms Sandy,
Irene, and Snowstorm Nemo made a significant and immediate impact on
Connecticut's shoreline, which allows students an accelerated view of
effects that are usually slow-moving, incremental changes on the habitat. The project’s previous habitat restoration gains were eroded by three severe events within two years.
Victoria Brennan, Chemistry professor and the Environmental Club
advisor explains, “The Dominion grant helps fund ongoing research and
restoration of the dunes using discarded Christmas trees as the
basis for new dune accumulation. Students will be looking at dune height
and area increase compared with the treeless sections, sand grain type
and dimensions, and growth of native plants in the test areas.”
R. Hennessy, Mitchell College Trustee and Director of Federal, State
& Local Affairs in New England for Dominion Resources, Inc. shares,
“We encourage projects that invoke critical thinking and relevant
learning. Our nation’s students must be prepared to meet the challenges
ahead, particularly in the fields of science and energy.” Hennessy
continues “Mitchell College’s ‘Science and Service Beach Project’ does
just that by engaging students in the study and evaluation of the impact of recent severe storms on the Mitchell Beach habitat.”
grant will support the acquisition of flexible and portable equipment,
such as laptops for better data management and statistical analysis in
the field and cordless microscopes to more effectively study the
health of the beach habitat. In addition the grant will fund the
purchase of American Beach Grass to repair damage to the dune system by
the recent super storms.
Managed by senior Environmental
Science majors Joseph Salwocki and Alec Sahadi, the program is also
part of the service learning projects for many science classes including
the Environmental Science classes and is open to community members and local schools.
About Dominion Resources, Inc.
is one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy,
with a portfolio of approximately 23,500 megawatts of generation, 11,000
miles of natural gas transmission, gathering and storage pipeline
and 6,300 miles of electric transmission lines. Dominion operates one
of the nation's largest natural gas storage systems with 947 billion
cubic feet of storage capacity and serves retail energy customers in 15
The Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of
Dominion Resources, is dedicated to improving the physical, social and
economic well being of the communities served by Dominion companies.
Dominion and the Foundation annually award more than $20 million to
causes that protect the environment, promote education and help meet
basic human needs. Through its Foundation, Dominion has created a Higher
Education Partnership program which awarded 39 college and
post-secondary schools with grants this Fall to underwrite projects in
energy, environmental studies, engineering and workforce development.
The schools selected are dispersed throughout Dominion’s service
territory and are located in the mid-Atlantic, Midwest and New England. Mitchell College in New London, CT is the only Higher Education Partner recipient in New England.