A Hands-On Education
At Mercyhurst, we believe that an education in biology happens not just in the classroom and the lab, but also in the field. That’s why we’re committed to making it happen in a variety of ways that include:
- Maintaining a new ecology laboratory that features three 180-gallon tanks built into the wall for viewing from both the hallway and the classroom. These tanks replicate the environments of a reef off of Turks and Caicos, Lake Erie’s surface to mid-level waters and the stream habitat of Elk Creek, a nearby major tributary of Lake Erie.
- Being members of the Regional Science Consortium, a collaborative, nonprofit organization that focuses on and coordinates educational and research projects for Lake Erie and the upper Ohio River Basin.
- Owning and managing two major natural areas within the Pennsylvania Lake Erie watershed for student research and field trips: the Jean B. and J. Douglas James Ecological & Wildlife Preserve, a 35-acre forest and wetland habitat within a larger greenway adjacent to the Asbury Woods Nature Center, and the Mary Jo and Ed Maier Field Station, a 17-acre property containing a mature bottomland forest and channel wetlands within the floodplain of Elk Creek.
- Encouraging students to participate in original research projects and to present their findings at regional and national conferences.
- Offering a variety of courses during the summer term at the nearby Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle State Park. Additionally, we also offer three summer field courses in Plant Ecology, Invertebrate Zoology and Restoration Ecology in which students participate in hands-on learning during a trip between Pennsylvania and Texas.
- Offering a course in marine biology every other year that takes students to a Caribbean island to snorkel, dive on a reef and conduct hands-on ecological research.
- Having access to a real-time PCR machine that lets students study the amplification and quantification of DNA sequences. One of its main uses is researching the E. coli problem in Lake Erie.
- Acquiring a 405-acre farm in Girard, Pa., to conduct research in sustainable agriculture and soil science.
- Being a member of Beta Beta Beta, a national professional society for students that is dedicated to improving the understanding and appreciation of biology and promoting scientific research.