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A Perfect Research Opportunity Right Next Door

A Perfect Research Opportunity Right Next Door

Diving into Research at Green Lake


11 Item Slideshow

Corey Rundquist canoes back to Hamilton’s RV Continental Drifter after tethering the research boat to trees on shore on Green Lake. Student researchers slowly unravel data cords tethered to the ROV as it heads to its next dive for samples of microbes at the bottom of Green Lake. Jeffrey Bush ’22 and Corey Rundquist ’22 slowly lower the ROV into the water before it dives for microbe samples in Green Lake. Avery Lum ’22, Nicholas Fabrizio ’22 and Jeffrey Bush ’22 look over and discuss one of several microbe samples taken from the far depths of Green Lake during a ROV dive. Prof. Mike McCormick and Nicholas Fabrizio ’22 take the ROV out of the water after a dive for samples. Prof. Mike McCormick instructs Corey Rundquist ’22 as Rundquist remotely drives the ROV. Mike McCormick fills out a log after a ROV dive for microbes. Nicholas Fabrizio ’22 photographs a microbe sample he got from Green Lake after he operated the ROV and grabbed the sample during a dive. Students pull off tube containing a sample of microbes retrieved from the bottom of Green Lake. Prof. Mike McCormick holds a microbe sample taken from the far depths of Green Lake.

Around 45 minutes west of Clinton, in a state park outside of Syracuse, lie two lakes — Round Lake and Green Lake — both known for their stunning green-blue tint. Along with their distinct color, the lakes are exceptional for being meromictic, meaning the layers of water never mix. These are different from more common holomictic lakes, in which the surface and deep-water layers turn over seasonally.

About Jeffrey bush '22

Major: Biology
Hometown: Syracuse, N.Y.
High school: Manlius Pebble Hill

This summer, four Hamilton students — Avery Lum ’22, Jeffrey Bush ’22, Nick Fabrizio ’22, and Corey Rundquist ’22 — studied bacteria samples from Green Lake in an effort to better understand its unique qualities. The lake is “unusually deep for its size and also has high salinity in its basin waters, so it does not turn over,” explained Bush. “It was likely created due to a waterfall that receded as the glaciers melted, and this waterfall had a force similar to Niagara Falls, so the water carved out this extraordinarily deep lake.”

To gather data about the water and its microbes, the team used underwater sensors to measure factors such as pH, turbidity, conductivity, and temperature, Lum said. They also employed a remote-operated vehicle [ROV] to assist in the collection of microbial samples emerging from water seeps. The ROV, which is equipped with cameras, a voltage meter, and a water pump, provided the team with valuable visual images and physical samples.

About Nick Fabrizio '22

Major: Biology
Hometown: Bemus Point, N.Y.
High school: Maple Grove H.S.

The Hamilton team’s research can be traced back to the early 2000s, when Associate Professor of Biology Mike McCormick began studying the unusual properties of Green Lake. In prior years, he has brought students with him to the lake both during semesters and on breaks. On the experience of working with McCormick, the students involved this summer had only positive things to say. “I loved the opportunity to travel there over this summer and work with him in his research,” said Bush. “It’s fun to get to know my professors in a closer way; having conversations about random stuff, killing time in the car,” Rundquist added. 

About avery lum '22

Major: Biology
Hometown: Weston, Conn.
High school: Weston High School

The students’ research comprised two kinds of workdays: those on which they went to the lake and those on which they stayed on campus. On lake days, they would meet at the lab around 6 a.m. to gather supplies before driving to the state park. Once on the water, they would explore and collect samples until the afternoon, when they would start “looking at data, preparing and preserving collected samples, examining water samples under microscopes, and preparing for the next day,” Lum said. 

On non-lake days, they would perform miscellaneous tasks including “cleaning up the lab, preparing and analyzing samples, and helping our research professor design his projects,”

About Corey rundquist '22

Majors: Biology, Chinese
Hometown: Millbrook, N.Y.
High school: Millbrook School

Bush explained. The collaborative nature of the project in all its stages was highlighted by the students as particularly enjoyable. “It was fun because we were a unit; we all helped out, and that made the work pretty easy,” Rundquist said.

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