SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Syracuse, NY, United States

The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry is an American, specialized, doctoral-granting institution based in the University Hill neighborhood of Syracuse, New York, immediately adjacent to Syracuse University, within which it was founded, and with whom it maintains a special relationship. ESF also operates facilities in the Adirondack Park , the Thousand Islands, elsewhere in central New York, and Costa Rica. The College's curricula focus on the understanding, management and sustainability of the environment and natural resources. It commemorated its centennial in 2011. Wikipedia.

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Liu S.,SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Biotechnology Advances | Year: 2010

The conversion of biomass to chemicals and energy is imperative to sustaining our way of life as known to us today. Fossil chemical and energy sources are traditionally regarded as wastes from a distant past. Petroleum, natural gas, and coal are not being regenerated in a sustainable manner. However, biomass sources such as algae, grasses, bushes and forests are continuously being replenished. Woody biomass represents the most abundant and available biomass source. Woody biomass is a reliably sustainable source of chemicals and energy that could be replenished at a rate consistent with our needs. The biorefinery is a concept describing the collection of processes used to convert biomass to chemicals and energy. Woody biomass presents more challenges than cereal grains for conversion to platform chemicals due to its stereochemical structures. Woody biomass can be thought of as comprised of at least four components: extractives, hemicellulose, lignin and cellulose. Each of these four components has a different degree of resistance to chemical, thermal and biological degradation. The biorefinery concept proposed at ESF (State University of New York - College of Environmental Science and Forestry) aims at incremental sequential deconstruction, fractionation/conversion of woody biomass to achieve efficient separation of major components. The emphasis of this work is on the kinetics of hot-water extraction, filling the gap in the fundamental understanding, linking engineering developments, and completing the first step in the biorefinery processes. This first step removes extractives and hemicellulose fractions from woody biomass. While extractives and hemicellulose are largely removed in the extraction liquor, cellulose and lignin largely remain in the residual woody structure. Xylo-oligomers and acetic acid in the extract are the major components having the greatest potential value for development. Extraction/hydrolysis involves at least 16 general reactions that could be divided into four categories: adsorption of proton onto woody biomass, hydrolysis reactions on the woody biomass surface, dissolution of soluble substances into the extraction liquor, and hydrolysis and dehydration decomposition in the extraction liquor. The extraction/hydrolysis rates are significantly simplified when the reactivity of all the intermonomer bonds are regarded as identical within each macromolecule, and the overall reactivity are identical for all the extractable macromolecules on the surface. A pseudo-first order extraction rate expression has been derived based on concentrations in monomer units. The reaction rate constant is however lower at the beginning of the extraction than that towards the end of the extraction. Furthermore, the H-factor and/or severity factor can be applied to lump the effects of temperature and residence time on the extraction process, at least for short times. This provides a means to control and optimize the performance of the extraction process effectively. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.

Stehman S.V.,SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Remote Sensing of Environment | Year: 2013

A map of land cover or land-cover change produced from remotely sensed data is linked to estimation of area of land cover or land-cover change via an accuracy assessment of the map. A variety of area estimators have been proposed based on different approaches to using the estimated error matrix produced from an accuracy assessment along with information available from the map. These estimators include a stratified estimator (where the strata are the map classes), several model-assisted estimators incorporating the map information as auxiliary variables in a variety of different models, and a bias-adjusted estimator that corrects for classification error when area is computed directly from the map. In some cases the same area estimator results from more than one approach. For stratified random sampling with the map classes defining the strata, the model-assisted and bias-adjusted estimators are equivalent to the stratified estimator of area that would typically be used with this sampling design. Thus the commonly used stratified estimator is the lone choice for stratified random sampling. For simple random sampling, the bias-adjusted estimator and a model-assisted difference estimator are equivalent, but other model-assisted options include poststratified (i.e., applying a stratified estimator to data obtained from a simple random sample), ratio, and simple regression estimators. A simulation study demonstrates that for simple random sampling, the poststratified estimator almost always has the smallest variance among these estimators. The only exception to the superior performance of the poststratified estimator occurred when overall accuracy was very high, the true proportion of area was small (i.e., less than 2%), and the accuracy assessment sample size was small (n=. 100). Because the poststratified estimator for simple random sampling is equivalent to the stratified estimator used with stratified random sampling, the stratified estimator provides a unified, simple approach to area estimation for these two commonly used sampling designs. © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: CHEMICAL OCEANOGRAPHY | Award Amount: 236.77K | Year: 2015

The oceans hold a massive quantity of organic carbon that is greater than all terrestrial organic carbon biomass combined. Nearly all marine organic carbon is dissolved and more than 95% is refractory, and cycled through the oceans several times before complete removal. Refractory dissolved organic carbon (RDOC) concentrations are uniform with depth in the water column and represent the background carbon present throughout the oceans. However, very little is known regarding RDOC production and removal processes. One potential removal pathway is through adsorption of RDOC onto surfaces of rising bubbles produced by breaking waves and ejection via bubble bursting into the atmosphere. Building on prior research, the investigators will evaluate the importance of ocean- atmosphere processing in recycling marine RDOC during a research cruise in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean. Results of the research will provide important insights regarding the coupled ocean-atmosphere loss of RDOC, thereby improving understanding of and ability to predict the role of RDOC in oceanic and atmospheric biogeochemistry, the global carbon cycle, and Earths climate. The research will involve three early career faculty, and will provide training for undergraduate and graduate researchers.

Recent results based on a limited set of observations indicate that the organic matter (OM) associated with primary marine aerosol (PMA) produced by bursting bubbles from breaking waves at the sea surface is comprised partly to wholly of RDOC rather than OM of recent biological origin as has been widely assumed. The injection of RDOC into the atmosphere in association with PMA and its subsequent photochemical oxidation is a potentially important and hitherto unrecognized sink for RDOC in the oceans of sufficient magnitude to close the marine carbon budget and help resolve a long-standing conundrum regarding removal mechanisms for marine RDOC. This project will involve a shipboard investigation and modeling study to (1) quantify the relative contributions of marine refractory dissolved organic carbon (RDOC) to primary marine aerosol organic matter (PMA OM) produced from near-surface seawater in biologically productive and oligotrophic regions and from North Atlantic Deep Water, and to (2) determine the importance of atmospheric photochemical processing as a recycling pathway for RDOC. To test these hypotheses, a high-capacity aerosol generator will be deployed at four hydrographic stations in the NW Atlantic Ocean to characterize (1) the natural abundance of 14C in PMA and in surface and deep seawater; (2) the surface tension and physical properties of bubble plumes; (3) size-resolved production fluxes, chemical composition, organic carbon enrichments, spectral absorbance, and photochemical evolution of PMA; and (4) the carbon content, optical properties, and physical properties of seawater. The importance of RDOC recycling via PMA production and photochemical evolution will be interpreted with model calculations.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Environmental Chemical Science | Award Amount: 510.50K | Year: 2016

In this project, funded by the Environmental Chemical Sciences Program in the Chemistry Division at the National Science Foundation, Professor Theodore Dibble at the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Dr. Chuji Wang of Mississippi State University are investigating how atoms of mercury react in the atmosphere to form molecules that are readily transferred into ecosystems. Atmospheric reactions of mercury are not well known. Questions of where and when mercury enters ecosystems and how it is transported around the globe are of special interest. Mercury is toxic to people and wildlife. Mercury in the atmosphere is not present in harmful concentrations, but once mercury enters ecosystems it is concentrated in animal tissues to levels that are dangerous when eaten by other animals or humans. Dr. Dibble works with high school teachers to develop modules to teach kinetics based on mercury-containing chemistry. The broader impacts of this work include the first experimental determination of the products of atmospheric reactions of mercury-containing molecules, and the incorporation of the results of this research into atmospheric models of mercury chemistry and deposition.

This project focuses on mercury oxidation by atomic bromine (Br). Cavity ringdown spectroscopy (CRDS) is used to monitor the fate of the HgBr radical in reactions with atmospheric trace gases. CRDS experiments and computational chemistry are used to determine, for the first time, the rate constants for reactions of HgBr radicals with ozone, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and atmospherically abundant radicals (Y. radicals, where Y. = NO, NO2, HOO, ClO, BrO, and IO). Rate constants are determined as a function of temperature and pressure to span the full range of atmospheric conditions. Synergistic interactions between scientists doing field studies, modeling, and laboratory work accelerate progress towards understanding global mercury cycling.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: SCIENCE, TECH & SOCIETY | Award Amount: 28.00K | Year: 2016

General Audience Summary

This collaborative proposal focuses on the Genetically Modified American Chestnut tree (GMAC). Unlike other emerging biotechnologies, such as gene drives, the GMAC has already been subjected to multiple years of field testing; it is on the verge of entering the regulatory review process for full environmental release. Two research teams will engage with four core stakeholder groups: biotechnologists, indigenous communities, non-governmental organizations, and policy makers. The research team at North Carolina State University will engage in interviews and laboratory ethnographies with biotechnologists, and the team will conduct a workshop that will include significant interaction and dialogue among university researchers, non-governmental organizations, and associated scientists in the public and private sectors. It will also conduct a narrative policy framework analysis to reveal the ways in which non-governmental organizations and other political actors use narratives to govern the development and deployment of the GMAC. The stakeholder workshop will lay groundwork for a highly collaborative future effort to engage the public on an emerging technology; it will focus on the ways in which public audiences might be meaningfully engaged to decide if and how the GMAC should be released into shared environments. The research team at the collaborating institution, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestrys Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, will conduct linguistic analysis and host a workshop in Haudenosaunee territory to understand the ways in which the GMAC might intersect with the history and sovereignty of indigenous communities. The collaboration will create multiple engagements between university researchers and underrepresented communities often excluded from decision-making processes. Project personnel will produce research reports for stakeholders, presentations for interdisciplinary academic conferences, and at least eight manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Technical Summary

By focusing on a common set of themes across four core stakeholder groups, the proposed research aims to advance scholarship on expertise, anticipatory governance, responsible innovation, and environmental justice. Interviews of tree biotechnologists explore the anticipations, which is related to governance in the broadest sense, of innovative technologies and their regulatory environments. The collaboration with the State University of New York researchers will co-produce knowledge addressing a public that is often excluded, to incorporate perceptions of genetically modified trees and provide insight into relationships among responsible innovation, indigenous expertise, and environmental justice. The narrative policy framework analysis promises more nuanced understandings of the activities of non-governmental organizations beyond their positive and negative stances concerning genetically modified organisms. The stakeholder workshop confronts experts with social science research to test how their own perceptions change and to what degree they re-imagine their own roles in engaging with the public about genetically modified trees and other biotechnologies.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: BIOLOGICAL OCEANOGRAPHY | Award Amount: 283.56K | Year: 2014

Hypoxia occurs when dissolved oxygen concentrations in aquatic habitats drop below levels required by living organisms. The increased frequency, duration and intensity of hypoxia events worldwide have led to impaired health and functioning of marine and freshwater ecosystems. Although the potential impacts of hypoxic exposure are severe, there is little known about the consequences of systemic, sub-lethal exposure to hypoxic events for populations and communities of fishes. The objective of this project is to determine whether sub-lethal exposure to hypoxia during early life stages leads to poor growth and hence increased mortality. This project will use environmental fingerprint methods in fish ear stones (otoliths) retrospectively to identify periods of hypoxia exposure. The project will compare consequences of hypoxia exposure in different fish species from the Gulf of Mexico, the Baltic Sea, and Lake Erie, thus examining the largest anthropogenic hypoxic regions in the world spanning freshwater, estuarine, and marine ecosystems. In addition, the research will increase awareness of hypoxia-related issues by disseminating curriculum materials to high schools in southern Texas that are dominated by Hispanic and Latino American students. As a part of this program, two high school teachers will be sponsored to participate in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Teacher At Sea program, where they will gain first-hand experience in biological sampling in the northern Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone and help lead teacher training workshops for additional high school teachers to implement hypoxia-related curriculum in their classrooms. In addition, this project will contribute significantly to basic information for critical stakeholder groups in Baltic Sea and Great Lakes fisheries via the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea and the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission. Two graduate students and one post-doc will also be supported in part by this project.

This project will employ long-term, permanent markers incorporated into fish otoliths to identify life-long patterns of sub-lethal hypoxia exposure far beyond time spans currently achievable using molecular markers. This work will capitalize on patterns of geochemical proxies such as Mn/Ca and I/Ca incorporated into otoliths and analyzed using laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry to identify patterns of sub-lethal hypoxia exposure. The investigators will then determine whether exposure results in differential growth and survival patterns compared to non-exposed fish by tracking cohorts over time and identifying characteristics of survivors. Because this work involves multiple species in multiple hypoxic regions, it will allow cross-system comparisons among unique ecosystems. The results from this project will thus provide unprecedented insight into effects of hypoxia exposure in three major basins using novel biogeochemical proxies, thereby paving the way for a fuller understanding of the impacts of dead zones on coastal resources.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Integrative Ecologi Physiology | Award Amount: 190.00K | Year: 2015

Blooms of toxic photosynthetic bacteria (cyanobacteria) are occurring globally with expanding frequency, duration and intensity in lakes, reservoirs and river systems. Most recently blooms of the toxic cyanobacterium Microcystis shut down the water supply of the city of Toledo, OH for a weekend in August of 2014. While the scientific community has developed a solid understanding of the factors that contribute to the blooms of Microcystis, previous research has not explained why cells make the hepato- (liver) toxin microcystin. As a potent inhibitor of a key class of enzymes - protein phosphatases - microcystin might play important roles inside Microcystis cells, and once released, inside the cells of other (target) organisms. This project will use advanced tools in molecular biology (RNA sequencing), microbial genetics, the quantification of small metabolites (metabolomics) and enzyme analyses to understand how the presence of microcystin shapes the activity of both the cells that make the compound and the community of microorganisms around them. Experiments in the laboratory will be complemented by field surveys of bloom events across naturally occurring toxin gradients - areas of historically high and low concentrations of toxin during the summer bloom season. State-of-the-art statistical analyses combined with these advanced scientific approaches will transform the understanding of why these cyanobacteria make this toxic compound. Understanding of the biological functions of the microcystin, will lead to better stewardship of a valuable natural resource: potable water. The total research effort will train students, including those from underrepresented groups, and broadly disseminate information to the public, systems managers and the scientific community. A significant component will feed into state-associated, in-class 4H training that will expose as many as 200,000 students to cyanobacteria as a model system to examine complex biochemical questions.

The goal of this project is to develop a deeper understanding of the biochemical role of microcystins, a potent protein phosphatase inhibitor, within cells and communities, and address both ecological and evolutionary questions concerning the maintenance of this and other expensive biosynthetic pathways for non-ribosomally encoded secondary metabolites within a (sub)population of cells. To determine how microcystin shapes cellular biochemistry and physiology, controlled lab experiments with Microcystis isolates that make microcystin, engineered strains where the biosynthetic gene has been knocked out, and wild-type Microcystis cells that lack the biosynthetic pathway will be conducted. Other cyanobacterial pairs (Planktothrix and Anabaena spp.) that make or do not make the toxin, engineered bacteria that produce this compound and a set of microorganisms isolated from Lake Erie that co-occur with Microcystis and may be influenced by toxin will also be tested. Experiments in the presence and absence of exogenous toxin will be conducted with both producers and non-toxin producers. State-of-the-art techniques in metabolic (LC-MS and LC-MS/MS metabolomics and lipidomics), transcriptional (Illumina mRNA-sequencing), enzymatic (4:3:3-regulated processes) and physiological analyses (e.g., cellular growth rates, primary production, and photosynthetic efficiency) for these defined lab strains will be employed to develop fingerprints of cellular function and elucidate how microcystin shapes these biochemical pathways and the physiological ecology of these cells. Lab experiments will be complemented by field surveys of bloom events across naturally occurring and well documented toxin gradients. Relationships will be identified using univariate and multivariate techniques. This novel integration of sequencing, small molecule chemistry, physiological and enzymatic approaches will permit the mapping of the physiological biochemistry of cells and identify both isolated as well as synergistic effects: indeed this work may transform the study of secondary metabolites in complex microbial systems and provide insights into microbial evolutionary ecology.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 1.12M | Year: 2015

An award is made to State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) to acquire a field emission scanning/transmission electron microscope (FES/TEM) with cryo-capabilities and elemental analysis using Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS). This instrument will replace a 30 year-old failing TEM in the shared-core N.C. Brown Center for Ultrastructure Studies at ESF. This project is a joint partnership of three adjacent universities, ESF, SUNY Upstate Medical University (UMU) and Syracuse University (SU). This new FES/TEM will provide these institutions with capabilities that are currently not available in central New York, and will expand the research capabilities of faculty and graduate students at these institutions, and provide support for competitive extramural funding. The NC Brown Center at ESF offers a unique academic program, a Microscopy Minor in central New York with graduate and undergraduate coursework and comprehensive formal training in the theory and application of microscopy such as: sample preparation, instrumentation and interpretation of results. This acquisition will enhance these academic offerings. In addition to its academic program, the Center routinely provides light, scanning and transmission microscopy demonstrations to community and industrial groups including outreach activities and demonstrations. This project will support such activities. The new FES/TEM will facilitate interactive, online high school and client access, with potential to provide interactive information with online demos. The new TEM enables the asbestos testing lab at ESF to become the only local laboratory to offer both phase contrast and TEM asbestos analysis for the asbestos remediation industry. Societal benefits of the project include raising scientific literacy of students and the public, providing students with skills for employment, providing potential for research that can result in wide-ranging impacts such as new vaccines or drug delivery systems for disease prevention, as well as environmental and industrial impact from the development of novel nanomaterials.

Acquisition of this cryo-capable field emission scanning and transmission (S/TEM) will permit advances within a wide-range of research groups at ESF, SU and UMU. Among these, at ESF: better tracking of measurable chemical changes and ultrastructure in fish ear stones due to environmental conditions, chemistry of both inorganic and organic nanoparticles, with potential use in targeted drug delivery, studies of wood cell wall degradation by fungi affecting forest trees and wood products, studies of insect vectors of human and plant diseases; at SU: this microscope will determine size and shape of semi-conductive quantum rods and alloy nanoparticles, atomic imaging and elemental inspection of atomic derived lattice planes and compositional gradients in alloy nanoparticles, S/TEM and EDS analysis of compositional changes in hetero-structured nanoparticles, S/TEM of stacking faults and extended defects in quantum dots, and analysis of protein and DNA modified nanomaterials; and at UMU: the proposed field emission electron source with its superior brilliance and beam coherence will produce high contrast images from frozen hydrated biological macromolecules at much better resolution than is now possible with the older machine. Such data will allow 3-D structure determination of ATP molecular motors. The high resolution 4K CCD camera will enable high throughput situations especially when thousands of images are collected for single particle or 3Dimensional reconstruction. The motorized goniometer will enable generating tomographic or tilted reconstructions of cryo sections of animal or plant cells revealing the internal structure and location of organelles, virus or nanoparticles as well as large drug molecules without the confusing artifacts created by chemical fixation. This microscope features a 2 nanometer resolution for examination of unstained samples, bacteria, viruses, proteins, nanoparticles and at the same time, map and locate elements. This new generation S/TEM will have a field emission gun, cryo-capable stage, Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectrometer, 4K CCD digital camera, electron diffraction, tomography software, and remote access. This instrument permits entry into the fields of protein folding, molecular motors, materials research, 3D reconstruction of single particles, cryo-imaging and elemental analysis. The FES/TEM with these options will enable visualization and reconstruction of subcellular particles, drug delivery vehicles, identification of elements in biological samples and nanoparticles, and localization of pharmaceuticals in target tissues by cryo-sections; all things that cannot be achieved with present instrumentation.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: INSTRUMENTAT & INSTRUMENT DEVP | Award Amount: 59.82K | Year: 2015

An award is made to the University at Albany (SUNY) and several collaborating organizations, including two other SUNY campuses (SUNY Polytechnic Institute and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry) and Boston University, to construct and test an aphid-like nanobiosensor whose purpose is to enable real-time monitoring of sugars in living plant tissues. Graduate and undergraduate students will participate in the development of NANAPHID technology. The results obtained in the process of NANAPHID development will be disseminated to the community through lectures, student laboratory exercises and field trips. The project will include a unique Website used to broadcast webinars addressing NANAPHID design, its capabilities, and the latest research results. The NANAPHID will make routine measurements of sugars that will benefit many biological research communities including plant ecologists, investigators at NSF-funded Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites, and scientists involved in a broad range of experimental and modelling studies of terrestrial carbon cycling. Applications in crop plant research and management are also promising. For example, the sensor has the potential to replace refractometry as the method of choice for volumetric analysis of sugars.

Non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs) are the currency of energy and growth allocation within plants. These products of photosynthesis are circulated as soluble sugars, whose concentrations are estimated using destructive analytical techniques that have difficulties distinguishing sugars in plant sap from associated cellular materials that get mixed into samples. NANAPHID technology will make real-time in situ measurements of NSC using concentrations in stems, roots, and branches and provide biologists with many new opportunities to monitor critical changes in resource allocation in plants. Tracking these changes in living plants is necessary for directly testing the effect of many environmental changes such as climate, diseases, atmospheric nutrient loads, and acidic deposition.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Fellowship | Program: | Phase: GRADUATE RESEARCH FELLOWSHIPS | Award Amount: 120.67K | Year: 2015

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is a highly competitive, federal fellowship program. GRFP helps ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based masters and doctoral degrees in science and engineering. GRFP provides three years of support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant achievements in science and engineering. This award supports the NSF Graduate Fellows pursuing graduate education at this GRFP institution.

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