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Opportunity to Help a Student with a Research Project:

We are writing to ask alumni in NE Ohio to help a Hiram senior with her independent Biology capstone research project. The goal of this research is to gather data on air quality in Northeast Ohio, determine the extent that air pollution moves eastward from Cleveland following local weather patterns, and relate air quality to lichen growth. Although lichens look like a single organism, they really are a combination of a fungus and an alga living together in places where neither could live alone. Because they absorb water and minerals directly from rain they are good indicators of air quality. We hypothesize that air quality differs from West to East of the Cleveland-Akron metropolitan corridor, and that lichen diversity and abundance will vary accordingly.

To do this study we need to measure air quality in three bands running North-South on the same days. Sample points are needed in the following three bands:

1) West of Cleveland-Akron Metropolitan corridor (West of I-71) in Western Cuyahoga County and Medina County (in or near the communities of Bay Village, Westlake, North Olmstead, Olmstead Falls, Strongsville, Grafton, Brunswick, Belden and Medina);

2) Within the Cleveland/Akron metropolitan corridor in Eastern Cuyahoga County and Summit County (in communities along I-71, I-77, and I-271); and

3) East of the metropolitan corridor in Lake, Geauga, and Portage Counties (in communities East of SR 44).

Air quality will be measured at each sample point in each band (i.e., yard or business) by placing a five-foot stake holding a piece of filter paper three inches in diameter (see figure below). The filter paper will need to stay in place for several rain-free days. Each filter-paper sample would then be collected about the same time on the same day and placed in a zip-lock plastic bag for analysis. The entire timing of participation for you this year, in either August or September, would be about a week. In the future we may want to re-sample air quality at these locations to continue this research at Hiram College, but such a long-term commitment is not necessary for anyone helping with this year's study.

If you are willing to help us this year by having your yard or business be a sample point, please contact Jennifer Friedler ( or Matt Hils (

Thank you very much for considering our request. Best wishes for a great end to summer.


Matt Hils, Professor of Biology & Director, James H. Barrow Field Station and the CSNS

Jennifer Friedler, '14, Biology Major

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