Mason OSCAR Undergraduate Projects

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Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
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    Microplastics' Composition and Role as Vectors for Persistent Organic Pollutants
    (2019) Nguyen, Han; Rhoades, Benjamin; Wigode, Evan; Hutchinson, Thomas; Foster, Gregory D.; Sklarew, Daniel M.
    Plastic is everywhere and once in a water body, some break down into pieces less than 5mm known as microplastics (MPs). MPs come from various sources, and it is hard to know where they originate. Previously published studies have relied on Fourier Transformed Infrared (FTIR) to identify the types of MPs. In this study, FTIR imaging system was used to determine the composition of MPs in the samples collected in the tidal freshwater Potomac River. Recent studies have also raised concern over the ability of plastic particles to accumulate persistent organic pollutants (POPs), organic compounds that are resistant to environmental degradation. Therefore, this study also aimed to investigate the presence and distribution of POPs absorbed to the post-consumer microplastics deployed into the Occoquan River.
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    Microplastics in the Tidal Freshwater Potomac
    (2019) Rhoades, Benjamin; Nguyen, Han; Wigode, Evan; Sklarew, Daniel M.; Foster, Gregory D.
    Microplastics (MPs) are pieces of plastic between 0.33mm and 5mm and represent a near ubiquitous type of pollution and have been found in almost all bodies of water sampled. MPs represent both an ecological and a public health threat, as vectors of toxic chemicals. Only one peer-reviewed paper quantifies the microplastics issue in the Chesapeake Bay region, with no published findings regarding microplastics in tidal freshwater Potomac River. Yonkos et al. (2015) considers population density of a watersheds in the Bay region as a factor influencing MP concentrations. This study investigates MPs in the Potomac River basin and the impact of land development on MP concentrations.
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    Plant Community Composition, Structural Diversity, and Non-Native Abundance in Four Restored Piedmont Prairie Fields
    (National Conference on Undergraduate Research 2019, 2019) Rhoades, Benjamin; Rush, Elizabeth; Wood, Thomas C.; van der Ham, Joris L.
    The Piedmont prairie ecosystem includes communities of forbs and grasses. The Piedmont of Northern Virginia is fragmented and regularly disturbed. Landowners in Fauquier County, Virginia have placed former agricultural land under conservation easements. Different restoration techniques are being applied to transition these fields to native grasslands habitat. We aim to better understand the effects of using different restoration techniques by comparing the plant community of these restored prairie ecosystems, with a focus on non-native plants.