Toxicity of Metals and Ionic Liquids to Native Wetland Plants

My major research interest is the investigation of toxicity of metals and ionic liquids to native wetland plant species. Currently, most regulations are based on data obtained by testing toxicity using common agricultural species, or in some cases, algae. It is unclear whether the data obtained using these surrogate species adequately protect native wetland plants.

Therefore, one aim of my research has been to determine whether or not native species are more or less tolerant of metals and ionic liquids as compared to the commonly used agricultural species. Ionic liquids are liquid salts that have recently been intensively investigated as “green” alternatives to the organic chemical solvents currently used in industrial applications. Few studies have been done so far to determine the effects of these chemicals on aquatic systems. Therefore, currently I have a student working on the toxicity of these chemicals to the native plants duckweed (Lemna gibba) and swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). More students could easily be fit into this project.

Pink Lady’s Slippers (Cypripedium acuale)

Since 2004 (excepting 2009) there has been an ongoing study of the population dynamics of our campus Pink Lady’s Slipper population. The long-term study has been focused on yearly leaf emergence and blooming dates, and locations of individuals within the population. Each year a student contributes data to the long-term data set, while devising a study of their own related to the ecology of the population. I am looking currently for a student to work on this project this spring. The student must be available for field-work during April and May, which is the emergence and bloom period for this species.