F&M Stories

Summer Research in Lancaster City's Rain Gardens: A Photo Collection

Franklin & Marshall's biology lab conducts research with real-world impact on the College's home city of Lancaster.

This past winter, a group of students trekked into Lancaster City for a unique research opportunity: measuring the performance of the city's rain gardens, an environmentally friendly installation designed to counteract the sometimes damaging effects of stormwater runoff.

This summer, the research continues. Now that vegetation is present in the rain gardens, F&M Associate Professor of Biology Sybil Gotsch and students in her ecohydrology lab are taking new measurements to compare to Gotsch's Plants and the Environment course's winter results.

"We expect the functioning of these gardens to be quite different with and without vegetation," she said.

The team is also performing diversity surveys on the vegetation in each of the gardens. Gotsch said different plants can be linked with different infiltration rates and because root structure varies by species, the anatomy of the roots impacts how water runs through the system. Understanding root structure and infiltration rates helps Gotsch and her students determine the success of Lancaster's rain gardens—an important feat, as uncontrolled stormwater runoff leads to the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay.

"These diversity surveys will also allow us to quantify additional benefits to the ecosystem such as pollinator and bird resources and habitat," she said.

Explore the gallery below to see the students' research in action.


Related Articles

February 14, 2024

Class of '89 Couple Finds Vibrant Community in Lancaster

When Claudia Mandarano Pace and Peter Pace ’89, P’20, P’22 graduated from Franklin & Marshall, they never would have imagined that their lives would bring them back to Lancaster years later, but that’s exactly what happened.

February 7, 2024

'A Perfect Match': Alumni Eye Surgeon on Returning to Lancaster

After graduating from Franklin & Marshall, Wenxin Wei ‘02 found himself on the other side of the country, studying a new form of eye surgery in California. Now, he’s back in Lancaster, helping legally blind patients see again.

January 31, 2024

‘Losing Blue’: When Art Explains Science

“Losing Blue,” a collaborative effort between the filmmaker, her writer and two F&M biologists, Professors Janet Fischer and Mark Olson, a wife-and-husband scientific team.