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New Rochelle, (September 2011) Iona College student, Daniel Lipus ‘12, Environmental Science Major, recently presented his research project "Assessment of Temporal and Geographic Population Structuring of Phragmites australis, Along the Hudson River using Microsatellite DNA Markers," at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY. Daniel had been awarded a prestigious Tibor T. Polgar Fellowship to study the population genetics of the invasive plant, Phragmites australis.
“Daniel is one of the best research students that has ever worked in my laboratory. He is intelligent, works hard and really enjoys research. Daniel has the ability to think critically about the questions at hand and analyze scientific data. I hope he goes on for a Ph.D. in Biology - he has the makings of a great scientist,” said Iona College Biology professor Dr. Joseph Stabile.
The Phragmites australis (P. australis) plant has become an ecological nuisance in the northeast United States by invading many habitats and outcompeting native plants thus altering our natural habitats. Many endemic avian species cannot use P. australis as a nesting ground and so the spread of this plant has lowered the biodiversity of many marshland communities. Daniel is testing the hypothesis that high levels of genetic variation allow P. australis to invade and adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions. Over this summer, Daniel collected samples from polluted and non-polluted sites all along the Hudson River. He has characterized a portion of their nuclear genome called microsatellites. Daniel’s results suggest that P. australis populations along the Hudson River are genetically variable and that some genotypes are more prevalent to particular habitats.
The Tibor T. Polgar Fellowship program is a scientific research program sponsored jointly by the Hudson River Foundation and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The fellowship was named in honor of the late, ecologist, Dr. Tibor T. Polgar, a major contributor to the early development of the Hudson River Foundation. The Fellowship has two main objectives; to gather data on all aspects of the Hudson River, and to train young scientists in conducting estuarine research.
The Polgar Fellowship Program is competitive and is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. Daniel’s faculty mentor is Dr. Joseph Stabile (Biology). Dr. Isaac Wirgin of New York University School of Medicine, Dr. Stabile’s longtime collaborator, also served as a co-mentor to Daniel.
Founded in 1940, Iona College is a four-year private, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers and American Catholic higher education. It is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona offers undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science, and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs.
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