Student Research Profiles

Chris Ferullo has always had an affinity for the outdoors. Growing up between two state parks, he made the most of the opportunities afforded to him in high school by conducting numerous independent projects detailing the ecosystems around him. Chris came to Fordham Lincoln Center the second semester of his sophomore year as a former business major. Intrigued by the idea of environmental science studies in the heart of Manhattan, he decidedly changed his academic career path and enrolled as an Environmental Science major.

During his junior year, Chris enrolled in various science courses that allowed him to begin exploring New York City’s relationship with nature. Because of the school’s proximity to Central Park, Chris spent a lot of his time learning about migratory bird populations, forest succession, and soil composition within its boundaries. Putting this knowledge to use, Chris returned home on the weekends during the fall semester to conduct his first independent study on the ecosystem of one of the parks he grew up next to.

With help from Dr. Mark Botton, Chris spent the summer of his junior year at Sacred Heart University aiding in multiple research projects relating to the health of the horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) population along the Connecticut coast. Chris worked to catalogue adult populations through bi-weekly night surveys, helped in the testing for heavy metal poisoning by collecting local vegetation samples, and scoured mudflats for juveniles to aid in the analysis of local juvenile cohort data. All the while, he was also working on his own research involving the general movement patterns of horseshoe crabs in Long Island Sound based on tagging and recapture data.

Having found something he really enjoyed, Chris spent the summer of his senior year working directly with Dr. Botton at Fordham University evaluating the horseshoe crab population in Jamaica Bay, Brooklyn. Part of an ongoing study examining the effects of beach erosion and a subsequent beach nourishment project on the horseshoe crab population in the area, Chris worked to collect data on both the adults and juveniles of the population. Taking into account the geomorphological changes from the nourishment project, he also worked to help collect data relating to potential key factors such beach slope, average destiny of the sand, and even sand composition. Because Chris was afforded the unique opportunity to work alongside two major horseshoe crab conservation efforts during his time at Fordham, his final research paper was a comparative analysis of the two populations detailing potential concerns regarding the overall current and future health of the populations.

Kyle Clonan (FCRH 2014) always favored his mathematics and science courses in school. But it was not until an AP Environmental Science course in high school that he found a scientific focus he wished to pursue as a career. Excited to attend college in New York City, a main reason he chose Fordham University was the opportunities offered to him by their ecological research facility outside of the city—the Louis Calder Center – The Biological Field of Fordham University. Together, the Rose Hill campus and the Calder Center offered an exciting city campus complimented by an excellent environmental research facility. Kyle’s first experience in environmental research focused on urban ecology, as he worked with a Fordham PhD student in rooftop garden studies. Kyle had the opportunity to help create an experimental rooftop garden at Fordham as well as travel to Columbia Parks Rooftop Gardens, located on top of NYC Parks & Recreation buildings throughout New York City. This experience allowed Kyle to study different aspects of rooftop gardens and aid in data collection. As a sophomore, Kyle studied the thermodynamics of rooftop gardens and the amount of energy saved by buildings featuring rooftop gardens. Using information from past studies, building information and a “green energy calculator”, Kyle was able to estimate the annual energy and monetary savings the University would enjoy if it was to install an extensive rooftop garden on top of O’Hare Hall.

During the summer after his sophomore year, Kyle was a member of the Calder Summer Undergraduate Research Program. Working with Dr. Steven Franks on ecological genetics, he studied the germination tendencies of different local populations of Brassica rapa and the reactions of these local populations when introduced to novel environments. He continued this research throughout his junior year and presented his results are the 2013 Fordham Undergraduate Research Symposium.

During the summer of 2013, Kyle interned at the Calder Center as an Ecological Monitor. Here he was part of the founding efforts to create a Long-Tern Ecological Monitoring program. Working with several members of the Biological Sciences department, he created over 30 designated forest and field plots throughout the Calder Center. Kyle later created individual maps of all plots, taking field notes and identifying all vegetation for future comparison. During his senior year, Kyle continued to collaborate with Dr. Franks, investigating germination tendencies in Triodanis perfoliata. He also worked on field collections with Dr. Franks on Project Baseline, a multi- university collaboration aiming to create a seed bank used to study plant evolution in response to environmental change. In the fall of 2013, Kyle was awarded a FCRH Research Grant for his study: The affect of Rooftop Garden Vegetation composition on Soil Chemical Properties and Rainwater Runoff. Mentored by Dr. James D. Lewis, Kyle studied the different affects rooftop colonists, NYC area native vegetation, and typical Sedum rooftop garden vegetation have on the chemical disposition of rainwater runoff and the concentration of heavy metals in rooftop garden soils. He presented his findings at the 2014 Fordham Undergraduate Research Symposium, which was his fourth consecutive year presenting at this symposium.

Melissa Ingala (FCRH 2015) always felt called to work in the Environmental Sciences. Having spent her childhood in rural Sussex county New Jersey, she always felt passionately curious about and fiercely protective of North American forests. When she saw that Fordham offered an Environmental Science degree tailored to these interests, she did not hesitate to enroll in the program. From her first year at Fordham, Melissa began research in various areas of Environmental Science. As a freshman, she became involved in Fordham’s own organic farm co-op, St. Rose’s garden, which provides fresh vegetables and works closely with the University to compost waste from its food services. I n her sophomore year, she studied the effects of green roofs on springtime insect emergence in order to better understand how urban ecology influences the behavior of plants and animals under the tutelage of Dr. Evon Hekkala. In her junior year, she began researching under the mentorship of Dr. Craig L. Frank studying White-nose Syndrome in North American bats at the Louis Calder Center. There, she studied the effects of free fatty acids on the growth of the fungus responsible for the infection, Pseudogymnoascus destructans. Currently in her senior year, she is continuing her work on White-nose Syndrome Dr. Frank’s lab, and she will give a presentation on this project before the North American Society for Bat Research. She is currently enrolled in the combined BS/MS program in Ecology, and plans to pursue her graduate education at the doctoral level after completion of her Masters.