Thursday, May 30, 2024

Student finds passion in ecology, plants

An avid camper since she was three months old, Erin Moseman “grew up in nature.” Her parents encouraged her to explore the outdoors growing up in Virginia and in Hudson Valley, New York. She loves being by rivers and lakes, and when she’s walking around outdoors, she’s observing.

Moseman, a senior ecology major with a botany minor, hopes to use her degree to solve environmental issues in correspondence to both humans and the environment on landscapes.

She knew she wanted to pursue science after taking an advanced biology course in high school and realized she liked all aspects of the environment.

“The second we transitioned into ecology and looking at whole systems and the environment, that’s when I knew I wanted to gear my educational path on ecology,” Moseman said.

After transferring from Dutchess Community College, Moseman rooted herself at Plattsburgh State. She chose PSUC because it was a small school with a good student-to-teacher ratio, and it was in a great location.

“We have the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain, so I had all types of environmental systems right around me, including the City of Plattsburgh which you can incorporate into that,” she said.

If she were to choose her favorite local outdoor spots, she said Rugar Woods because it’s close and a great resource for the ecology department to show people different types of ecosystems within a small amount of land. She also recommends Silver Lake Bog, toward Saranac Lake.

“It’s a boardwalk that goes through a beautiful bog and you can absorb nature around you,” she said. “It’s so beautiful.”

When she transferred to PSUC her junior year, she was scared to integrate in the student commu-nity, but after her first semester she joined the Wildlife Club and the Environmental Action Committee. She became treasurer of the Wildlife Club and worked her way up to president.

Moseman’s made the best of her one-on-one time with professors by participating in numerous research projects. She encourages doing research because while you can benefit credit-wise, it’s also giving you work and research experience after graduation.

For a year, she did an independent research project with her adviser, assistant professor of environmental science Rachel Schultz. She studied nutrient cycling within aquatic systems in relation to how invidious species are changing nutrient cycling and the dynamics of both forest and aquatic systems.

Schultz said since Moseman has been at PSUC, she has honed her skills and also branched out to different areas.

“You can see that she’s a leader in groups she’s a part of but also in general with the department,” Schlutz said. “She’s really shown herself as a leader and a great role model for other students.”

For her research, Moseman implemented her experiment into a stream and watched the leaf litter or fallen leaves degrade over different time intervals. She said it included a lot of waiting, but during the time she would process past samples.

Moseman stepped out of her comfort zone when she decided to research micro-plastic accumula-tion within fish digestive tracks with Danielle Garneau.

“It’s something new to me,” Moseman said. “I’m more of a plants and chemistry person, so doing something that involves animals is very different — but I like new things, so it works.”

Garneau said Moseman has made a profound impression on the faculty with her drive and tre-mendous time management skills.

“She’s going to succeed at whatever she decides to do because she doesn’t shy away from these challenges,” Garneau said. “She’s very ambitious.”

In addition to her academic research, Moseman works for the Lake Champlain Research Institute where she monitors the plankton population on Lake Champlain. During the summer, she would spend eight hours on a boat collecting water and plankton samples, and during the school year she spends her time working in the lab, measuring and counting how many plankton there are.

She credits her parents for encouraging her to put school first, do her best and go out there and succeed.

“They always stuck by my side and said ‘you can do it,’” she said.

Her mother, Lisa Moseman, said her daughter always had to be the center of attention growing up. Described as a “good kid who was always smiling,” Moseman farmed with her father, kept rab-bits and was always in the dirt.

“She follows things through, and when she has her mind set on something, there’s no changing it,” Lisa said.

Moseman said she wants to focus on restoring what’s been degraded and understanding how humans are altering the landscape and how we can fix that. If she could have her dream job, it would be on a management consulting team creating plans to improve management practices across ecosystem management.

After her time as a teaching assistant and doing research in her field, she realizes the importance of working closely with faculty because they’re professionals in their field and they’ve been where you’ve been.

“I think it’s important for students to reach out and do research, or even just ask lots of questions to advisers and teachers,” she said. “It sets you up for what’s to come in the future.”

Moseman plans on attending graduate school with her top choices being University of New Hampshire, SUNY ESF and UVM.

“I just want to fix the problem — no matter where I am — as long as I’m fixing and environmental problem that is related to ecology,” she said.

Email Brittany Shew at

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