Featured Research Project: Impacts on Dandelion Growth

Sarah Fitterer ’25 is currently collaborating with Matt Collier, professor of biology, department chair, and the 2023 recipient of the University’s top faculty prize, the Alumni Association Award for Distinguished Teaching, to study the impacts of soil iron and manganese exposure on North American dandelion growth.

“Specifically, Sarah is examining the impact of soil iron and manganese exposure on dandelion root and leaf biomass and hypothesized that plants exposed to higher metal concentrations will show reduced biomass measures compared to those exposed to lower concentrations,” Collier explained. “North American dandelions are known metal accumulators and have therefore been used to assess metal toxicity in numerous studies and to Phyto remediate metal contaminated soils (dandelions essentially pull metals out of the soil and store them in their roots/leaves). We are trying to see how much iron and manganese the plants can take before they die.”

In the Student’s Own Words:

“I chose to stay on campus and do research this summer because of the opportunities it will provide for me in the future,” Fitterer said. “Working with professors and getting hands on experience is something that is very important to me. The best part about my research so far has probably been being able to be in the greenhouse and grow the dandelions, as well as being around the rest of the plants in the greenhouse. I have learned that I like working with plants in a scientific way, and not just having plants at home for aesthetics. I think there is a lot we can learn from plants.

“I chose to do this research specifically because I enjoy working with plants, and Dr. Collier has lots of previous knowledge of dandelions and the specifics on what we’re doing. I think that this research will be a big help in the future when considering phytoremediation and metal toxicity in soils.”

Sarah Fitterer, Class of 2025
Hometown: Newark, Ohio
Major: Environmental Science

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