PLYMOUTH — A Plymouth State University graduate student has received a prestigious grant to study water quality in New Hampshire's Ossippee and Squam Lakes.
Melanie Perello, a second-year student in PSU's Environmental Science and Policy program, is the inaugural recipient of the International Phycological Society's (IPC) Paul C. Silva grant. This award for student-led research on algae supports Perello's Master of Science thesis, a collaborative project with the Center for the Environment, the Squam Lakes Association and the Green Mountain Conservation Group, to monitor various indicators of water quality, including diatoms (algae), in the two lakes.
"Specifically, I am looking at diatom fossils preserved in the sediments of Ossipee and Squam Lakes," said Perello. "Both of these lakes are important resources for drinking water and recreation, as well as vital habitat for sensitive wildlife. The quality of these lakes is continually threatened by changing climate, nutrient pollution, and shoreline development. Diatoms can be used as an indicator of lake water quality and the fossils allow us to infer past water quality and climate, providing a long-term record for each lake."
Perello's research expands upon historical and current data gathered by lake water quality assessment volunteers in New Hampshire by combining it with new, year-round water quality monitoring and lake sediment archives analyses.
"Melanie is targeting two regions within New Hampshire that have very active volunteer monitoring programs and whose lake associations are concerned about future influences on water quality by land-use and climate change," said PSU Assistant Professor of Environmental Science Lisa Doner, who also serves as Perello's advisor. "The support from the International Phycological Society will assist Melanie in meeting her research goals and also support the region through applied environmental science."
"We will be able to tell residents the history of water quality in those two lakes,
the changes that have occurred and what those changes are related to," added Perello.
Perello is a native of Poland, Ohio, and earned her undergraduate degree at Westminster College.
The IPC is dedicated to the development of phycology (the study of algae), the distribution of phycological information and international cooperation among phycologists and phycological organizations. Dr. Paul Claude Silva (1922-2014) helped organize the IPC in 1960 and is regarded as a leader in the field of algae study. He spent most of his working life at the University of California-Berkeley and the Jepson Herbarium. The grant includes funding for travel to meetings and workshops in which the student is presenting work on algae research projects.