A history of students and research

Over the last number of years numerous students have gained valuable research experience through summer projects at Merry Lea.

Since 2000, Merry Lea faculty and staff have partnered with the Goshen on-campus Maple Scholars program to support summer student researchers, most years supporting one or more Scholars. Beginning in 2017, Merry Lea is starting a parallel program fully on-site, called Hickory Scholars (in honor of a much more numerous tree genus here). Hickory Scholars will interact with their on-campus colleagues, but much more so with their fellow students studying at Merry Lea all summer.

2014 Maple Scholars

Darab Nagarwalla (Transition-to-Teaching, Mussoorie, India) designed a 9th grade curriculum that helps students understand their own ecological footprints by thinking specifically about two places, Goshen, Indiana, USA and Mussoorie, Uttarkhand, India. Although very different in many ways, these differences become a way for students to better understand the uniqueness of their home places and the commonality they share with youth from the other side of the globe.

2013 Maple Scholars

Aradhana Roberts (junior, Mussoorie, India) studied herbaceous plant communities in several forests around Merry Lea, aiming to identify factors that are contributing to the resilience of those communities to invasion by exotic plants (esp. garlic mustard and multiflora rose).

2009 Maple Scholars

2009Jeremy Good (senior, Reading, Pa.), an environmental science and biology double major, and Adie Gerig (junior, Mishawaka, Ind.), an environmental science major, studied the effects of deer herbivory on tall grass prairie forbs, with Assistant Professor of Biology Ryan Sensenig.

2007 and 2008 Maple Scholars

2008Constructed Wetland Research – Elizabeth Buschert and Rachel Versluis (2007) studied the treatment effeciency for the removal of nutrients from a constructed wetland. Merry Lea used constructed wetlands at two of it’s facilities for processing wastewater. This alternative wastewater treatment method uses the natural cleansing processes in wetland systems to break down organic nutrients.

2007Elizabeth and Rachel worked with Lisa Zinn in testing the influent and effluent from the wetlands to try and determine what percentages of several nutrients were being removed by the systems. Both Maple Scholars also assisted with the MAPS bird banding research.

This work continued in 2008 when Katie Coleman and Trevor Kauffman worked to determine the removal rates in constructed wetlands at Merry Lea and other similar sites around the region of the chemical Triclosan. This is the active ingredient in anti-bacterial soap and is also used as a anti-microbial agent in a range of other household products. The EPA has designated Triclosan as a chemical of concern and it is important to know if alternative wastewater treatements are effective in removing this from wastewater.

2006 Maple Scholars

2006Bird Populations of Merry Lea

Kat Stutzman worked on using computer modeling of populations to obtain estimats for many of the bird species at Merry Lea. Kat worked with Lisa Zinn on using five years of bird banding data from Merry Lea to do sophisticated capture, mark, recapture modeling. Kat also help gather the 2006 bird banding data for the MAPS program.


Garlic mustard and ground nesting birds

Jonathan Mast explored how the invasive species garlic mustard impacted the populations of ground nesting birds. Working with Lisa Zinn, Jonathan mist netted birds on forested sites. Some of the sites were invaded by garlic mustard while others were not.


Jonathan also worked collecting DNA samples during the MAPS bird banding that were sent to UCLA for a nationwide study of bird viruses.

2005 Maple Scholars

Human disruption and nest site selection

Adrienne Landis worked with Lisa Zinn studying the correlation between the distance to roads and yellow warbler nesting behavior. She also helped with the MAPS bird banding program.


Native predators and Soybean Aphids

Kristy Miller worked with LisaRenee English with a study on Soybean aphids. The study investigated soybean aphid populations in relation to existance of nearby native prairies. They were trying to assess if nearby native prairies would host more native predators and reduce aphid populations.

2004 Maple Scholars

Effects of Nearby Habitats on Bird Populations

Drew Weber worked with Lisa Zinn to conduct an inventory of bird populations at Merry Lea and then examined bird densities along with the distance to various surrounding habitat types. Drew also helped with the MAPS bird banding research project.


Land Management Strategies and Small Mammal Diversity

Zebulon Holsopple worked with LisaRenee English investigating the mammal diversity in open fields that have been under various management strategies.

2003 Maple Scholars

Lauresta Piper-Ruth – MAPS – bird banding
Jason Kauffman – Garlic Mustard impact on invertebrate predators of the forest floor.

2002 Maple Scholars

Evelyn Yobera – The effect of garlic mustard on forest floor invertebrate predators
Katie Mast – Bird banding (MAPS)

2001 Maple Scholars

Deb Brubaker – Bird banding
Amanda Lind – Dragonfly survey & behavior
Suzanne Landis – Butterfly survey & Great Spangled Fritillary tagging

2000 Maple Scholar

Justin Welty – Bluebird trail monitoring and care