Northern Michigan University student Elizabeth Rogers of Rhinelander, Wis., won third place in the student poster competition at the 14th International Phytotechnologies Conference in Montreal, Canada. She was the only undergraduate to receive a student award at the conference. Her research is associated with phytoremediation, the use of plants to clean up contaminated areas.
Rogers studied the correlation between variables pertaining to the health of trees grown in contaminated landfill sites. Her research title is “Contribution of Root-Shoot Allocations to Biomass Production and Overall Health of Hybrid Poplar and Willow Genotypes Grown in Different Landfill Soil Treatments.”
“During the awards ceremony, my name suddenly appeared on the screen, and a few hundred expectant faces turned my way,” said Rogers. “I couldn’t help smiling all the way to the front of the room. It felt like all my practice and hard work paid off.”
At the conference, she was able to network with distinguished scientists and professionals.
“I was offered a few graduate opportunities around the country and one in Canada. This experience was invaluable to me. I made a name for myself in the community of phytoremediation and may have sparked future collaborations.”
Rogers is an environmental science and integrated science elementary education double major.
“I want to do what I can to mitigate the impact humans have on the environment. Phytoremediation is the perfect fit for me. On a large scale, I can help clean up a contaminated place. Not only that, but I am doing it in a natural, sustainable way. I never would have guessed that people would be using plants to remediate pollution.”
Rogers worked as a biological sciences aide for the U.S. Forest Service in her hometown for the past two summers. There, she conducted her own research as part of a larger project led by her supervisor. That project turned into her capstone research, which she presented at the conference.
Rogers is working on a few other research projects and will be returning to her hometown’s branch of the Forest Service this summer.
She plans to pursue a doctoral degree in forestry, agronomy, botany or environmental science. She aspires to be a scientist with the U.S. Forest Service, where she would specifically like to continue researching phytoremediation. She also wants to do outreach with school-aged children with whom she can share her passion for the environment.