Lisa Cassidy

August - September 2012
The effects of dam removal on plant succession along a riparian zone at Fallbrook Pond, Oswego, NY 

What is the focus of your research and why is it important?

The purpose of our project was to monitor vegetation response to the removal of Fallbrook Dam from Rice Creek.  The imposition of a dam is a disturbance on stream ecosystems and submerges surrounding riparian zones that are rich in biodiversity.  Currently, there is some debate about whether dam removal can be used as a restoration tool.  At Fallbrook pond, our group sampled the area after the dam was removed and compared these results with data from before the dam was removed that was collected during Wetland Ecology class.  The continuation of this study could eventually provide a model for the efficacy of small dam removal as a restorative technique.

What have you learned about conducting research?

There a lot of challenges, both anticipated and unanticipated, that comes with research and it requires a lot of time and patience and should not be rushed.  With that said, I found that working in the field and lab is enjoyable and even relaxing.  The more challenging part comes during the statistical analysis and interpretation phases.  It takes a lot of in depth thinking and requires that we basically become detectives.  Every piece of information needs to be attacked at every possible angle and that may lead to multiple interpretations of the data.  There are a lot of possibilities out there and that makes further research exciting!

Describe a memorable research experience at Rice Creek Field Station.

When I took Plant Ecology we spent the first month of class out at RCFS sampling trees and using various field methods to characterize the forest.  For this project we had to go off the trails and venture deeper into the trees.  We identified trees and took measurements so that we could later determine what the forest's stage of succession was.  I thought it was a really fun experience because instead of sitting in lecture we got to walk around the woods.  I would take that trade any day!  I love fieldwork.


Where did you grow up and how did you become interested in science?

I grew up in Ballston Spa, NY, which is about thirty minutes south of the southern end of the Adirondack Park.  Growing up relatively close to this large forest preserve allowed me to explore the outdoors as a young kid.  Hikes and camping trips with my family developed my appreciation for nature.  I have always had really diversified interests and have dabbled with a number of other fields in college, but I feel science, specifically Biology, challenges me the most and is by far the most motivating and rewarding field of all.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan on attending graduate school for aquatic ecology.  This project really sparked my interest and so I plan on continuing research in wetland and stream ecosystems.  I also plan on getting a certificate in GIS and hopefully incorporate that into my graduate research.