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June 26, 2008 - Grand Rapids, Michigan (June 26, 2008) - Two Aquinas students, Melissa Menerey of Dimondale and Megan Fish of Conklin, each received $3,000 grants to conduct research at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute. The Institute, a Biological Field Station located south of Hastings, recently awarded ten grants through the undergraduate Research Grants for the Environment (URGE) program.

The URGE program provides stipends for students conducting summer research at the Institute, along with up to a $3,000 faculty mentor stipend that can be used for equipment purchases, general expenses travel or training needed for conducting the research project. Additionally, each grant award allows for up to $4,000 in room and board expenses for the student and faculty mentor. Dr. Paul Bieneman, professor of geography is the advisor for the Aquinas students.

Menerey '10 and Fish '09 are both geography majors. The students' research involves the gathering of data that will be used to determine the relationship between elevation changes and temperature features; the relationship between elevation and associated temperatures and wind speed; and the relationship between elevation and associated temperatures and time of the day.

The Institute's Biological Field Station is one of the few independently operated Biological Field Stations in the country. It is made up of a consortium of thirteen Michigan and Indiana colleges and universities and includes: Albion College, Alma College, Aquinas College, Calvin College, Central Michigan University, Cornerstone University, Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Hope College, Kalamazoo College, Olivet College, Valparaiso University, and Western Michigan University. An advisory board made up of two representatives from each school oversees the consortium. This arrangement allows students research opportunities they may not have at their school, especially for the smaller schools that do not have their own research field station.

This is the fourth year of the URGE program. Since the beginning of the program the Institute has awarded over sixty grants. "We recognize the financial burdens that are placed on college students and that they need to work during the summer to save money for tuition. By providing them with a grant, hopefully it will provide the opportunity for more students to participate in the program," says Michelle Skedgell, executive director.

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