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.

Since 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.

Dr. 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.”

Kevin 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.”

The 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.
Dominion 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 states.

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.