FURSCA Feature: Andrew Franklin, '12

Andrew Franklin collects samples in Rice Creek

Graduation date: December 2012

Where do you call home? Albion, MI

What are you studying? Biology major. Philosophy and History minors

Activities as a student:

Sigma Nu fraternity, Beta Beta Beta National Biological Honor Society, Student Alumni Association, Whitehouse Nature Center assistant

Why did you choose Albion?

I chose Albion for two main reasons. The first reason is the college's proximity to my home. The second was the typically small class size. I have often found the one-on-one time that I've needed in order to fully grasp certain concepts outside of class. I attribute this to the amount of time that many of my professors have to allocate to each of their students in need, whether by office hours or individually scheduled meetings. With too many students in classes, I fear that this important one-on-one time would be reduced.

What is one of your favorite Albion memories?

Aside from general shenanigans involving the brothers of Sigma Nu, friends graduated and not, I'd have to say that my fondest memories of Albion will be of some field components in my biology classes, studying abroad, and also my FURSCA experiences during this summer of 2012.

What are you doing this summer for FURSCA?

An oil spill near Marshall, Michigan in July 2010 by an Enbridge Energy pipeline discharged nearly one million gallons of heavy crude oil into Talmadge Creek, a tributary to the Kalamazoo River. My research project emphasis is on biological monitoring, which is to estimate, assess, and analyze the overall health of a particular ecosystem by characterizing its habitats, as well as by sampling the organisms that inhabit it.

Macroinvertebrates, such as very small insect larvae, crustaceans, and aquatic worms, rely on streams for all, or at least part of, their life cycles. Many of these species are invaluable bioindicators of change within stream environments, as they have differing tolerances to chemicals that may be naturally present or added to the system.

In accordance with the Great Lakes and Environmental Assessment Section Procedure #51, my team and I will conduct macroinvertebrate sampling and habitat evaluations at five sites on Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River. Through this methodology, we may offer ecological suggestions as to what, how, and why the conditions for life in Talmadge Creek are like -- and most importantly, how they have changed over a relatively short period of time after this tragic accident. Additionally, a branch of my research will be focused on the analysis of certain chemicals in these areas of the watershed. Plus toxicology studies on amphipods, which are small shrimp-like crustaceans, and periphyton, a bacterial and algal community that colonizes organic substrates and is centrally important to the structuring of freshwater communities in lakes, streams, and rivers.

What are your plans after you leave Albion?

I intend to make it into a graduate program for a master's degree in marine biology, where I can realize my dreams of being a field biologist. I want to conduct research that can contribute to our greater understanding of the world around us, and the organisms that we share our Earth's resources with.

What have you learned from your FURSCA experiences?

I believe that the most important lesson I have learned during the course of my FURSCA research experience this summer is that good science cannot be rushed. It must be conducted patiently, with unbiased expectations -- and with both dedication and passion.