Biological & Health Sciences

Engineering, Mathematics & Technology

Environmental Biology

Environmental Biology

A New Ocean Microplastic Detection and Removal Method that also Reduces Environmental Impact
Madison Maka
Carrie Bykowski
Melissa Carroll
Jessica O'Connor
Moraine Valley Community College

Abstract: Plastics contaminating ecosystems has become a prominent environmental issue worldwide. In the remote location of the Glovers Reef Atoll, Belize, large quantities of shoreline plastic have been observed, but the presence of dissolved microplastics has not been recorded. Hypothetically, numerous amounts of non-biodegradable microplastics will be discovered through the creation of a simplified identification method that significantly reduces the amount of damaging yet necessary heavy metal catalyst in comparison to published methods. This new methodology hopes to detect and reduce microplastic pollution, reduce biomagnification and support a more efficient, less toxic microplastic extraction.

Are you Drinking Plastic?
Asia McNair
Yvette Venegas
Morton College

Abstract: Excessive use and improper disposal of plastic by the human population has polluted our water systems. Statistics show as of 2020, 5.25 trillion macro- and micro-plastics pollute our oceans. That equates to 46,000 pieces per square mile, weighing approximately 260,000 tonnes. This experiment aims to identify microplastic levels in local water sources including Lake Michigan and various faucet water collections. The method for analysis is wet sieving and wet peroxide oxidation. By investigating microplastic levels in water, we aim to gain a greater understanding of its impacts on the body, aquatic creatures and the ecosystem.

Determining the Potential use of Microalgae as a Biopesticide on Brassica Rapa and the effect of Salinization on Both Plant and Microalgae
Nick Perry
College of Lake County

Abstract: With an ever-increasing global population, the need for massive crop yields in commercial agriculture is tremendous. A notable hindrance to agricultural production is the presence of natural pests. Synthetic pesticides pose potential health risks to humans, animals, and the environment. Biopesticides might provide an alternative to controlling harmful organisms in plants and the soil. Salinization also contributes to environmental stress. The goal of this study is to determine the benefits of microalgae in the development and yield of Brassica Rapa and determine the effect of salinization on both plant and microalgae. If microalgae are unaffected by salinization, they might provide an alternative to chemical control of pests.

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Green Recovery
Noe Rodriguez
College of Lake County

Abstract: "Use of drought tolerant plant compounds as a means of recovery in water deprived plants". Plants and grasses deprived of water, such as in cases of drought, experience significant stress, sometimes leading to death. Recovery from this state can be prolonged or, impossible. In the absence of an abundant water supply, an alternative or adjuvant recovery aid would be environmentally beneficial. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to determine the changes in recovery of water deprived plants with compounds found in drought tolerant plants. If drought tolerant plants possess compounds that assist in recovery of drought conditions, addition of these compounds to water deprived plants should assist in their recovery.

Lead in the Chicago area: social and environmental impacts
Kate Buller
Marcia Huerta-Pazos
Logan Fingerle
Katera Johnson
Prairie State College

Abstract: The south suburbs of Chicago have in the past been disproportionately affected by environmental issues, particularly the presence of lead in the home, which can lead to neurological issues in children. We hypothesize that this is due to the area's lower average level of income. We plan to look at the records of past and current levels of lead in the south suburbs and compare them to other areas of Chicago. The purpose of this project is to bring these environmental hazards to the forefront of the minds of those who live in these communities that are affected.

The Effects of Organic and Non-Organic Honey Crisp Apples On Soil Quality and Plant Growth
Heather Seidel
College of Lake County

Abstract: The focus of this experiment is to determine if organic versus non-organic composted material impacts soil quality. Three types of testing were performed, Microorganism culture growth, a decomposition test, and a plant growth rate with additives from organic and non-organic apples in the soil. A major goal of this study was to determine if the added wax coating on the non-organic composted apples inhibited or encouraged more or less bacteria and fungi thereby affecting soil quality and decomposition rates. If the presence of a waxy coating on the non-organic apples does affect soil quality, then decomposition and soil microbes will be affected.

Vertical Hydroponic Garden
Andy Avalos
Morton College

Abstract: The hydroponic project aims to fix the issue of growing vegetation in an area with limited space & irrigation. It eliminates excess water waste, weeds, lack of attending personnel, and continuous attention. Using PVC pipes as a frame, two Arduino/Genuino Uno, and a Raspberry Pi that acts as the control hub, we can create a green, efficient, and automatic method to grow small vegetation such as spices, herbs, and vegetables. The garden can hold 160 plants in total, and is user-friendly enough to be put in a classroom for students to grow plants, and maintain it.