Campus Living Laboratory

Students walking on the boardwalk at the project stream site

Inspired by a diversity of ecosystems and a culture of sustainability, the living laboratory transforms Mount Holyoke’s natural and built landscape into an exciting destination for hands-on, multidisciplinary undergraduate research and teaching.

More than 700 acres of natural and engineered ecosystems. A four mile network of trails. An online database housing decades of student and faculty monitoring obtained from 15 permanent water sampling stations, five weather stations and additional ecological field sites across campus. Countless opportunities for independent student research and inspiration, all right here at home on the Mount Holyoke campus.

The campus living lab allows students to advance discipline-specific and interdisciplinary learning to foster new ways of perceiving both the natural and built campus landscape. The living lab seeks to highlight and coordinate place-based opportunities for learning, experimentation, and demonstration through the integration of resources like campus ecological sites, progressive sustainable infrastructure, academic courses, and the botanic garden.

Living Laboratory Webcam

Living Laboratory Map

Hover over the icons on the image or see the descriptions below to learn the how the campus is used as a living laboratory.

Water Monitoring

Data has been collected at various locations in Stony Brook, Upper Lake, Lower Lake and along tributary streams to Upper Lake biweekly from 1996 to present.

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Climate Monitoring

Mount Holyoke College hosts five weather stations to investigate the differences in campus microclimates. Data is downloaded frequently and made publicly available for student, faculty and community use.

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Forest Monitoring

Three forest monitoring plots on Prospect Hill are used to observe forest health and regeneration. Yearly DBH measurement are taken on each plot.

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Botanic Garden

The Botanic Garden provides students and faculty with an exceptional interdisciplinary academic opportunity by serving as a plant-based resource for education, research, conservation and inspiration, and is an integral component of the Campus Living Laboratory.

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Restoration Ecology

Led by Professor Kate Ballantine and using the Campus Living Laboratory, Mount Holyoke’s Restoration Ecology Program leads the fight against ecosystem degradation by promoting the scientific study and practical application of ecological restoration.

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Sustainability on Campus

Sustainability is a top priority at Mount Holyoke College, one example being the new Dining Commons, which presents a leap forward in sustainable operations by consolidating six dining halls into one, and features innovative energy-saving technologies and menus focused on locally sourced food.

Another example is the photovoltaic array that was instaled on Kendall Sports and Dance Complex on November 19, 2018. Power from the 1,472 panels feeds directly into the College’s electrical distribution system at Kendall Hall and will generate approximately 6% of campus electricity use annually. The array provides an opportunity for students to study renewable energy through a live feed of the power generated by the system.

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Environmental History

The physical landscape of the Mount Holyoke College campus has been used for a variety of activities, including for leisure, science, art and culture, providing a rich environmental history. Creighton Hall, for example, is the newest residence hall on campus, and meets LEED Gold requirements.

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