Earlier this semester, Belhaven University announced a year-long partnership with the Jackson Zoo that would allow 300 students in the science program to collect and analyze data vital to the zoo’s conservation efforts and future improvements.
“It’s a real-life science project,” said Belhaven Chemistry student Marjory Clement. “We have the opportunity to go out in the real world, perform real scientific analysis and develop solutions for a real problem.”
As of now, Belhaven students have completed a third of the initial project. Over 100 students from four classes across the Division of Natural Sciences have been deployed to collect data at the zoo. This data includes GPS mapping coordinates, watershed information, thermal temperature data, invasive species and the beginning of a comprehensive water quality assessment which will ramp up in the spring semester.
Students from Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Computer Science and Mathematics are all working on the project. Faculty members are assisting professionals in forming a preliminary report to the Jackson Zoo and its board of trustees in early December.
The partnership has greatly benefited the Jackson Zoo and Belhaven. Almost $30,000 in support funding and equipment has been procured, but the greatest impact has been on the students involved.
“This project has really opened my eyes to the other applications that science has in the community around us,” said Biology student Kaelin Hanson. “I’m extremely motivated to help push this project forward and seeing how this research helps the zoo.”