Community Geology, Environment and Sustainability Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences K-12 National Center for Suburban Studies School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Training the Next Generation of Scientists

Anthony Sisti, Hofstra alum and laboratory technician in the Raciti lab; Professor of Biology Steve Raciti; Lynbrook High School students Mikayla O'Hagan and Andrea Glanzer; Hempstead High School student Eybin Martinez; and Hofstra BS/MS Biology student Penelope Ramos.

The Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR) and Hofstra University have launched a Summer Science Research Program that pairs some of Long Island’s brightest high school science students with University faculty for an intensive five-week program. The program, funded by a $240,000 program grant, is part of an integrated strategy to provide environmental stewardship opportunities to Long Island youthWorking closely with Hofstra faculty mentors, students will develop environmental research projects related to Long Island’s Mill River Basin watershed on Long Island’s South Shore in southwest Nassau County.

The Summer Science Research Program, slated to run for four consecutive summers, is funded through GOSR’s Rebuild By Design Living with the Bay program. Designed to foster both civic engagement and independent thought, the summer program will give Long Island’s next generation of scientists the building blocks with which to start their careers as they learn to preserve and promote their local environment. This year’s session kicked off on July 9th.

Laura Munafo, Program Manager, Rebuild by Design: Living with the Bay at GOSR, said: “The Summer Science Research Program gives high school students an unequalled opportunity to immerse themselves in meaningful, serious academic research under the tutelage of Hofstra University faculty.”

Hofstra University selected 18 students for this year’s session. Applicants come from Hempstead High School, West Hempstead High School, South Side High School, Malverne Sr. High School, Oceanside Sr. High School, Oceanside High School Castleton, East Rockaway High School, and Lynbrook High School, all “High Need” schools with significant low-income and minority student populations.

This state-funded Summer Science Research Program is a new version of the long-running Hofstra University Summer Science Research Program (HUSSRP) that also for many years offered research-oriented high school students the opportunity to work with Hofstra science faculty.

 Volunteers Requested for Biology Department Soil Project

One of the projects that is part of this Summer Science Research Program is a study that is looking a lead in soils, and the Hofstra professor in charge is looking for volunteers who live on Long Island. Steve Raciti, assistant professor of biology, asks, “All you need to do is give permission for my research group to collect a bit of soil from your yard. The research will help everyone better understand lead hazards in residential soils.

“We are not testing lead inside houses — only in soils. For homeowners and residents, there are no required actions and no reporting requirements for lead in soils. All data from individual homes will be kept private (only shared with the resident) and used in aggregate for data analysis.”

There are more details and a Frequently Asked Questions section on the project website, below.

SIGN UP HERE: https://sites.google.com/view/raciti/long-island-soils-study.

Students are chosen based on their academic record, interest in science, teacher recommendation, and an interview with program faculty and staff. They work in to two-to-four-person research teams in the field and in the classroom. Within these small teams, students gain hands-on research experience, mentored by Hofstra professors, as they design and complete discrete research projects aimed at deepening understanding of the watershed’s environment.

Dr. J Bret Bennington, Chairperson of the Department of Geology, Environment, and Sustainability at Hofstra University, said: “Hofstra University is very excited to be hosting students from high schools in the Mill River watershed in our Summer Science Research Program. These students will be engaged in authentic scientific research directly relevant to the watershed, including projects investigating the sustainability, ecology, hydrology, meteorology, and contamination chemistry of the suburban, freshwater wetland, and coastal environments of southern Nassau County. After working with Hofstra scientists during July and August, the students will present the results of their investigations at a poster session on the Hofstra campus in September.”

Lawrence Levy, Executive Dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, said: “Once upon a time, it was enough to fire imagination of school children by putting a few holes in a construction fence and let them watch it at their leisure. Nowadays, it’s critical to engage students hands-on and to involve them in Science-based programs related to important infrastructure projects in their own backyards. That’s what we intend to facilitate for the next four summers.”

The program runs from early July to mid-August and culminates in a public poster presentation, where students may showcase their findings. While enrolled in the program, students will participate in larger research projects that affect the Mill River Basin and its communities. Research subjects include monitoring the ecological heath of local wetlands, analyzing flooding’s relationship with storm intensity and rainfall, and assessing public response to resilient infrastructure improvements. These projects require long-term monitoring and data collection and will extend beyond the program’s five-week period. Following the program’s completion, local high school teachers will establish their own research programs on the Mill River Basin, furthering the program’s scientific research.

The Summer Science Research Program is part of GOSR’s $125 million Living with the Bay Project which was developed in response to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Rebuild by Design (RBD) program to meet a series of goals specific to the needs of communities along Long Island’s Mill River: flood mitigation, preserving quality of life, restoring environmental health and water quality, creating and improving waterfront access, and providing water-related education opportunities.

Established in June 2013, GOSR coordinates statewide recovery efforts for Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Through its RBD Program − as well as its NY Rising Housing Recovery, Small Business, Community Reconstruction, and Infrastructure programs − GOSR invests $4.5 billion in federal CDBG-DR funding to better prepare New York for future extreme weather events. More information about GOSR and its programs is available online at http://stormrecovery.ny.gov/.

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