Paul Smith’s students, faculty coauthor peer-reviewed article

Aug 4, 2016 | News

Two Paul Smith’s College graduates, Alex Garrigan-Piela and Brendan Wiltse, as well as Professor Dr. Curt Stager, were among nine coauthors of a peer-reviewed article published in The Holocene.

The research, based on sediment core samples from Wolf Lake, was used to learn more about rainfall over the past 1,600 years and how it correlates to changes in climate. Stager explained that while computer models agree that climate in the northeastern United States is warming, they conflict when it comes to resulting effect on precipitation.

“Our goal was to use the sediment record of Wolf Lake to learn what climate history there tells us about the future,” Stager said. “Lakes are excellent windows on what climate change is doing to the (Adirondack) Park.”

Wolf Lake, in the Huntington Wildlife Forest near Newcomb, was chosen because its history was free of damming, fish stocking, acidification, and other obvious human influences. Its largely intact state makes it a so-called “heritage lake” and an effective reference point for lakes throughout the region.

The core samples taken from the lake indicated that there was more precipitation during cooler periods and drier conditions when the climate warmed. Stager characterized the research as “another piece of information in the puzzle of what the future holds for Adirondack climate.”

The paper, which underwent a year of review by members of the scientific community, also featured work by authors from Harvard University, Queen’s University, UNC-Wilmington and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

For Garrigan-Piela, who graduated in 2015, being in that company as a student and now recent graduate is no small feat.

“It’s unusual to have an undergraduate college student become a co-author on a peer-reviewed scientific paper,” said Stager. “That’s one of the things we’re known for at Paul Smith’s, because we involve students directly in our research. This is the second paper published on Wolf Lake with Paul Smith’s student authors.”

Wiltse is currently the science and stewardship director for the Ausable River Association. He graduated from Paul Smith’s College in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree and went on to earn a Ph.D. at Queen’s University.

The Wolf Lake research was made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

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