In 2011 Marlboro received a generous grant from the MAC (Margaret A. Cargill) Foundation to support environmental initiatives and student work on the environment. In addition to opening new opportunities for research support in all disciplines, and for student attendance at conferences or workshops, these funds have supported valuable summer internships or fieldwork relating to the environment. Last summer there were several MAC Grants provided for students, ranging from exploring sustainable agriculture at The Land Institute, in Kansas, to experimenting with invasive Japanese knotweed eradication right here in Marlboro.
“My primary goal in travelling to Indonesia was to gain insight on the country’s coffee industry,” said junior Anna Goren, whose Plan of Concentration combines mathematics and geographical information sciences through a study of global coffee industries. Anna participated in a two-month language intensive program through USINDO, learning Bahasa Indonesia—the national language—in Yogyakarta, on the island of Java. “During my spare time, I explored the domestic coffee industry and local sustainable agriculture movements.”
Through her involvement with the community of Klinik Kopi (Coffee Clinic), a coffee shop in Yogyakarta that promotes local, sustainable coffee production, Anna was able to gain insights into the connections between local producers and consumers. This included an overnight trip to the village of Lencoh, on the slope of Mount Merapi, where she helped pick coffee beans and witnessed traditional methods for processing the harvested beans. “My time in Indonesia helped me to get a better picture of domestic market concerns, and thus has given me both a head start in my research and insight necessary for correctly analyzing my results,” said Anna.
Closer to home, senior Elizaveta Mitrofanova spent her summer conducting an experiment on the college farm, exploring the symbiosis between legumes, mycorrhizal fungi, and nitrogen-fixing bacteria. She used four plots of land, two of which were cultivated and two of which were left undisturbed, and planted beans inoculated with rhizhobia bacteria. The beans were harvested at three intervals throughout the summer to examine and compare the development of mycorrhizae and rhizhobia nodules on the roots of the beans.
“It was quite exciting to be able to see this symbiotic relationship between plant and fungus that I have been reading about for the past two years,” said Liza, who spent hours and hours peering through a microscope, collecting data. “It’s amazing to think that everything we know in science today resulted from tedious and meticulous studies such as this one. Regardless of the results, I have gained an enormous amount of perspective and experience through this project.”