Research happens year-round, regionally

Throughout the year, UW-L professors and student researchers can be found paddling small boats in river marshes. They trudge through muddy Mississippi River Valley forest floors. And, they study squirrel hearts in a Cowley Hall science lab.

All are searching for answers to big questions. Is lead from shotguns fired 50-80 years ago contaminating La Crosse River marsh soil? What’s the best fence for forest restoration? How do ground squirrels stop their blood from clotting when humans can’t?

It’s not easy work, admits Leah Morgan, a graduate student collaborating on the ground squirrel research. “One of my professors said if research was easy it would just be called search.”

While this research is creating a foundation for future studies, it’s giving students an experience they won’t forget.

It’s fun to watch students in the lab transform from their freshman to senior years, says Biology Professor Scott Cooper. “There is a kind of professionalism undergraduate research really instills in students,” he explains.

Students see the direct impact of their work. “I didn’t really know all this was happening in the marsh,” says Sara Erickson, a geography major collaborating on the lead contamination research. “I’m glad we can help the environment and the people using the park.”

Science research is finding more solutions. Read more online:

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Featured in the Winter 2011-12 Magazine