Monday, April 18, 2011

Donor funding critical to research at Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon

Three students researchers at the University of Illinois Springfield’s Alfred O. and Barbara Cordwell Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon spent the summer making remarkable discoveries thanks in part to the generosity of private donors.

The Emiquon Preserve, which is located near Havana on the Illinois River, is one of the largest flood plain restoration efforts in the world. The students spent the summer studying zooplankton migration, insects, and methane emissions, which are used to measure to progress of the restoration effort.

“Without any sort of money or scholarship none of this would be available and it’s a great hands on learning opportunity for students, such as myself,” said Fay Allison, a junior Biology major.

An endowment from the Therkildsen family provided the funding for the students to spend the summer at Emiquon learning and working side-by-side with faculty members. The endowment also helped to pay for the tools needed to complete their work.

“I would not have been able to work on my project or even have the possibility of completing it without the funding from the Therkildsen grant,” said Shawn Gibbs, a graduate Biology major.

The private funding allowed the students to focus their full attention on their research and not have to worry about making ends meet.

“Funding is important, because it allows the student to immerse themselves in study, in their work and not worry about extra jobs and things,” said Dr. Michael Lemke, associate professor of Biology and director of the field station.

For graduate student Kamal Ghotra the grant helped her with transportation costs and parts for her computer, which were critical to completing her research. She realizes just how special Emiquon is and feels fortunate to have been given the chance to conduct research in the field.

“For students to have an opportunity of having a wetland and seeing how it’s being restored and how it changed throughout history. It just gives us a little insight into how nature works,” said Ghotra.

Other research at Emiquon includes an exploration of the bugs and invertebrates, research into the food chain, and the study of wild life.

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