REP Alumnae

Susan Wojtowicz

Restoration Ecology Summer Scholars Program, Director 2015

Susan was a high school biology teacher for several years before obtaining her master’s degree in wetland conservation from the University of Massachusetts. For her master’s project, she developed a wetlands curriculum to be utilized by high schools participating in the USFWS Adopt a Habitat initiative. She enjoys combining her love of teaching with her passion for environmental science.







Isobel Arthen

Student Research Assistant, Class of 2014

Isobel graduated from Mount Holyoke with a bachelor's degree in environmental studies. Isobel's work with the Restoration Ecology Program was primarily centered on ground and surface water quality monitoring of the restoration site and surrounding water bodies under the direction of Leszek Bledzki. She also helped to design and carry out an original experiment studying the contribution of nutrients from leaf decomposition. She is particularly interested in the ecosystem services provided by wetlands, more specifically how they interact with issues of climate change.




Chelsea Booker

Student Research Assistant, Class of 2015

Chelsea was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. She majored in environmental studies with a discipline in conservation biology. Chelsea is very interested in studying how restored wetlands impact the reptiles and amphibians that inhabit and/or utilize them. As a research assistant in the REP, she surveyed Project Stream’s amphibian and macroinvertebrate populations as baseline data. She hopes this data will provide future researchers with an understanding of how Project Stream’s amphibian and macroinvertebrate populations change after restoration.





Carey Lang

Student Research Assistant, Class of 2014

Carey Lang was a research assistant during her senior year as an environmental studies major at Mount Holyoke College and a member of the MHC Restoration Ecology Program. During summer 2014, she conducted a vegetation survey in the proposed wetland site on campus to better understand the site in terms of its vegetation. This survey served to provide baseline plant data for the site before manipulation. Carey also conducted a seed bank study to further explore the plant diversity in the wetland site.





Mari Lima

Student Research Assistant, Class of 2015

Mari was an environmental studies major with a concentration in ecosystem science at MHC. During summer 2014, she had the opportunity to work on community and public outreach for the MHC Restoration Ecology Program to promote awareness of REP's real-world project with real world consequences in the MHC community. This consisted of running a booth at the local farmer's market and leading tours of the restoration wetlands site. She also assisted with water quality and soil sampling of the MHC wetlands site and a cranberry bog restoration site in Plymouth, Massachusetts.




Brittany McDonald

Student Research Assistant, Class of 2014

Brittany McDonald graduated from Mount Holyoke with a bachelor's degree in environmental studies with a concentration in conservation as well as a minor in psychology. She was an REP research assistant during summer 2014 and assisted Erin Pierce with research and data collection for her thesis, which looked at different soil properties—such as soil moisture and gas/nutrient levels—at different wetland sites on or around Mount Holyoke College’s campus. Her interests include conservation, restoration, green energy, and wildlife protection and she hopes to pursue a career in any of those areas in the near future.




Erin Pierce

Student Research Assistant, Class of 2015

Erin Pierce ’15 graduated from Mount Holyoke with a major in Environmental Studies and a concentration in ecosystem science. Her work in the Restoration Ecology Program focused on wetland soil properties and processes. Erin’s senior honors thesis compared denitrification in cranberry bogs along a restoration gradient in southeastern Massachusetts. At Project Stream, she has been involved with monitoring soil physical properties, denitrification potential, and greenhouse gas flux. Her favorite part about working in the REP has been applying skills learned in the classroom to real-world restoration projects. The opportunity to collaborate with faculty, students, and practitioners across disciplines has been a valuable component of her MHC experience.

Erin currently works as an Assistant Director of Admission at MHC.


Farah Rawas

Student Research Assistant, Class of 2017

Farah is pursuing a dual degree in Environmental Studies and Civil and Environmental Engineering. She worked in Dr. Kate Ballantine's lab in the summer of 2015 as an REP intern, after taking her class, Restoration Ecology, in Spring 2015. Farah helped collect and analyze soil quality data and conduct a geographic and vegetation survey of the site prior to restoration. Contributing to the MHC wetland restoration project was a rewarding experience for her academically and personally. Farah had the opportunity to learn new lab procedures and was introduced to new lab protocols, especially after a trip to Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, where she conducted soil tests that determined soil denitrification potential (DEA and CFIM). At the Cary Institute, Farah got to meet other undergraduate research interns, graduate students and scientists who made the lab experience interesting and very enlightening. She will spend the 2015-2016 academic year at University of Massachusetts, Amherst studying engineering and putting together ideas for an independent project that will merge both ecosystem sciences and engineering to create better solutions for a changing world.



Si Qi (Cindy) Yao

Student Research Assistant, Class of 2015

Cindy graduated with a major in chemistry and a minor in biology. Her research as part of the Ballantine Lab began when she took her first steps in wetland soil, dressed in a pair of rubber hip waders and holding a soil corer. After a week of sample collection, a month of lab work, and two years of data analysis and writing, Cindy completed an honors thesis thanks to the support of Dr. Ballantine and the rest of the REP group. The interdisciplinary nature of her project, and of environmental science in general, enabled Cindy to better understand and appreciate coursework in other subjects. Her undergraduate research also encouraged her to further her studies in a related field, and Cindy is now working towards a dual master's degree in engineering sustainable systems at the University of Michigan.


Restoration Ecology Classes


Restoration Ecology, Spring 2013

Restoration Ecology 2013 was the first group of students to adopt Project Stream. In Phase 1 of the project, they focused on asking "What is the problem?" – conducting research to understand the various issues facing Project Stream. After analyzing the condition of the stream and where the pollution was coming from, the class worked together to research and write up a proposal for a campus wetland restoration project designed to improve the quality of water entering Upper Lake from this stream. They worked in the College Archives to pull together a thorough site history; an interactive GIS map; data collection to examine the water, soil, and vegetative characteristics of the proposed project area; a literature review of relevant case studies; a review of legal requirements and restrictions; a community outreach effort through a course website, Facebook page, two campus news interviews, and a student and alumni questionnaire; an artistic rendering of what the site looks like now and may look like after project completion; and informational interviews with relevant stakeholders (e.g., golf course managers, Facilities Management, and MHC students and alumnae).



Restoration Ecology, Spring 2014

Restoration Ecology 2014 took on Phase 2 of Project Stream. Building on the previous class’s work, they designed a comprehensive monitoring plan to understand the baseline site conditions necessary to inform the design of a restoration project. They each wrote a monitoring proposal designed to guide long-term monitoring of the restoration site. The data from these monitoring efforts will help us understand how the site changes over time. Topics ranged from greenhouse gas monitoring to bird monitoring to measuring the effect of engagement in community-based restoration projects or educational activities on elementary and high school students. Students presented their proposals on-site for the South Hadley Conservation Commission and other interested stakeholders in a Restoration Showcase at the end of the semester. Seven of the students pursued the work they proposed and/or related restoration work via independent studies at the site during the following summer.



Restoration Ecology, Spring 2015

In Phase 3 of the Project Stream restoration planning, students tackled the question of how to conduct outreach and share the value of the Project Stream site with members of the MHC and South Hadley communities. The group focused much of their attention on developing a "user interface" for the site – creating a plan for a boardwalk and educational signage that would draw MHC students and community members into the site and invite them to learn about the site, the project, and the importance of wetland function. They also assembled materials to share with the public that answer many of the questions people may have about the restoration, such as: "what is restoration?", "what is the REP?", "what have the students done and why?", "what is the current project?", and "what is the long term vision of the REP?" Their work culminated in a restoration showcase where they presented to over 130 members of the MHC and South Hadley communities. Following their work, the project was permitted through the South Hadley Conservation Commission, and construction commenced in late Summer 2015, as a direct result of student work over the past three years.