GGC Students Team with Elachee

January 2017 marks the first environmental research effort led by Georgia Gwinnett College in collaboration with Elachee Nature Science Center, the conservator for the 1,440 acre Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve.

Georgia Gwinnett College chemistry and environmental science professor Kathryn Zimmerman and students install Puff Air Quality Monitors for a collaborative research study that teams them with Elachee Nature Science Center.Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) undergraduate students, led by chemistry/environmental science professor Kathryn Zimmerman in collaboration with political science professor Laura Young, are conducting a semester-long regional air quality study in the Atlanta Metropolitan area. The Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve is one of the GGC study’s first sites among a projected eight throughout the test zone of Hall, Gwinnett and Fulton Counties.

The study is funded internally by GGC. It is part of the Community Innovations Projects Program at the University, conducted by students and faculty from both the School of Liberal Arts and the School of Science and Technology.

“Professor Zimmerman’s students are eager to sample here,” says Lee Irminger, Elachee’s Natural Resources Manager. He reports that this team found Elachee to be responsive and willing to help facilitate their study by providing space to sample, a feat that has not been as easy as they hoped.

Elachee Nature Science Center and the Chicopee Woods are situated in the middle of mixed use land. The GGC team chose two sites near the boundary of the Nature Preserve in close proximity to both industry and residential neighborhoods.

They spent a warm mid-January Saturday, under Irminger’s oversight, installing equipment that is approximately the size of a volleyball. These monitors require no power and are attached to trees by non-invasive methods such as with zip ties. 

For the initial study, GGC students are using Puff Air Sample Monitors to capture 30-40 days of air quality samples. They will process the collected samples using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis to verify the presence of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

“This is the first time that a research effort from GGC has teamed up with Elachee, and is just the start,” Irminger shares. “Students hope to return to Chicopee Woods for additional sampling. They want to place additional monitors deeper within the Nature Preserve to see how air pollution is affected by this significant green space.”

Learn more about Elachee's conservation efforts in the Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve.