Burnham Brook in Pouring Rain

Chris Kenny before it got really wet.

Chris Kenny before it got really wet.

Nope, the weather wasn’t at its finest when our senior seminar class left for Burnham Brok in East Haddam, CT. It was actually raining pretty hard and it didn’t stop until we arrived about an hour later to meet Steve Gephart from the CT DEEP. Steve and Mike Fotos gave us a guided tour of Burnham Brook Preserve, one of the first properties in Connecticut donated to the Nature Conservancy by Dick Goodwin, a Connecticut College professor who helped to establish the Nature Conservancy in the early 1960′s.

Steve leading us through the forest.

Steve leading us through the forest.

The Burnham Brook Preserve consists of 1022 acres of forested land and includes two small streams. It was amazing to see these two streams, even after prolonged heavy rain, run completely clear and still within their banks – the result of a nearly completely protected watershed area.

Burnham Brook

Burnham Brook

One of the many stone walls criss-crossing this former farm area.

One of the many stone walls criss-crossing this former farm area.

We spent about two hours hiking through the preserve, listening to Steve and Mike’s stories about the preserve and their explanation of various ecological features. We were all pretty wet after our trip, but not too cold to visit the local ice cream shop, where we sampled a large variety of locally made flavors. All-in-all: a very successful trip!

It's never too wet for ice cream! At the Salem Valley Farms Ice Cream store.

It’s never too wet for ice cream! At the Salem Valley Farms Ice Cream store.

ENVS Program Featured in Recent Newsletter of the Connecticut Geological Society


OK, this time for real :-)
(we’re not that lame to try the same joke twice, and 4/13 would be a bit late anyway…)

After hosting the annual meeting of the Connecticut Geological Society (CGS) last Fall our program is featured in the current CGS newsletter. For the high-res version you can click here, all you guys with prehistoric low bandwidth connections (like me) can access the low-res version here. You can skip right to pages 4 and 5 to read about our program.
If you read the entire thing, which is highly recommended, you’ll notice that the society organized a spring fieldtrip to the metamorphic rocks of western Connecticut this weekend. Jon and Christoph enjoyed a beautiful day in the field, stood on the oldest dated rock in Connecticut and, among other fine specimens, looked at Candlewood Granite, a “highly foliated granite” that others might safely describe as a gneiss – but I spare you the long-winded discussions we had about the naming of rocks. This time it was a granite, but it was certainly a gneiss one!

Multiflora – Here we come!

Cemetery Brook swampThis week students in Biological Invasions (ENVS 220L) began to map invasive species in a nearby natural area adjacent to Cemetery Brook and Hartford’s Hooker Environmental Science magnet school. Students will spend several weeks mapping and quantifying invasive plants that are present at the site, and then develop a management plan that will ultimately be passed on to the school, a local non-profit and the city of Hartford who hope to restore the site.  Stay tuned for updates on the progress of this exciting project, and to find out if Jenna, Sarah and Cristina ever made it out of the dreaded multiflora rose-ringed swamp of no return!

Trinity ENVS Program Made it into the New York Times!

ENVS made it into the science timesHooray! Trinity’s ENVS program is featured on today’s Science Times page. We couldn’t tell you about it but last week Cameron had a little phone interview with with Tara Xacum, a science reporter from the New York Times to talk about his ground breaking research on invasive dandelions. To make it even better: they picked one of Christoph’s pictures to go with the article. No we didn’t get any royalties, but fame is priceless! You can check out the article here:

Wildlife Research Goes High-tech!

joan with NEBIR caracara

While in Florida recently, Prof. Morrison successfully captured and tagged a Crested Caracara, the raptor she has been studying there for over 20 years.  This caracara will be helping Prof Morrison test new transmitter technology.  The transmitter, seen on the bird’s back, operates on the cell phone networks, collecting accurate GPS locations on the bird every 3 hours then transmitting data to the cell towers every 12 hours.  This transmitter operates using a solar-charged battery.  After only a few weeks, a pretty good picture of the caracara’s home range has emerged!  The intent of this effort is to evaluate effectiveness of this new GPS/GSM technology for eventual use in a longer term study focused on determining how breeding caracaras throughout Florida respond to habitat conversion within their home range.

ENVS Faculty Participate in Treehouse Lecture Series

Hammonasset State ParkIn April Christoph Geiss and Joan Morrison will both give lectures or lead discussions at the Treehouse. On April 8th Christoph will give an introduction to landscape photography, sharing some advice and enjoying the excuse to show cool pictures. On April 22nd Joan will lead a discussion on the connection between “Environmental Health and Human Health“. We hope to see you all.

Yes, for all you bird folks out there: these are “sanderlings” a migratory bird species fattening up on Long Island Sound before heading back north to their breeding grounds in northern Canada. Who says a geologist can’t do birds. :-)

ENVS Program Participates in Hartford’s 2014 Great American Cleanup


Trinity’s ENVS program will participate in the 2014 Great American Cleanup. The details are still a bit murky, but Cameron volunteered us to pick up trash and eradicate invasives around the pond at Pope Park. On Saturday April 19th we plan on spending the morning at the park, do some good and end the half day of hard labor with a picnic or barbecue.
Contact Cameron or Christoph if you are interested in joining us on. Pope Park will provide trash and invasive plants, ENVS will provide transportation, gloves, tools and the food afterwards, and you provide the labor. Everybody wins!

ENVS 149 Spills the Beans

more beans

bean counter in action

 Jon saved one of the most fun labs of the semester for the week before spring break. Over the past week our students have grown beans and tried to poison them with various compounds. Some samples clearly didn’t look so good any more.

So, what did we learn this week?
1. Sparkleen soap is not very good at killing beans. methanol does much better.results

2. Error bars are a pain in the – you know what – to produce in Excel.
beans about to be spilledKyaw counting beans

First McCookout of the Semester a Great Success

McCook 121- party centralDespite strong winds and freezing temperatures the first McCookout of the season was a full success. Cameron, Justin and Dan lit the coals and provided lots of food that was eagerly awaited in the geology lab. About twenty majors and new students met over lunchtime to chat, eat, discuss classes and declare their majors. With Spring finally in the (extended) forecast we hope to make McCookout a weekly event for the rest of the semester.

dan on the grill

The real reason why dan volunteered to do the barbecue

And the prize for best hair goes to ...

And the prize for best hair goes to …

No food in the lab!

No food in the lab!



Iver Earns an Easy A !

The senior seminar class visited Hammonasset Beach State Park today to learn about conservation practices in one of Connecticut’s busiest state park. We got a little introduction to the park by Henry Alves, the Park and Recreation Supervisor at Hammonasset. Afterwards we went to Cedar Island to look for one of the three snow owls that are currently in the park. Nope, we didn’t see any, but learned about salt marshes, glacial moraines etc.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the way back Iver decided to show us his manly side and, for an easy A, did the polar bear plunge:

And, yes, I must have missed that fashion trend: