School of Environment and Natural Resources
Environmental Sciences - Honors
As a future ecological restoration professional, many of Alisa Mancini’s most valuable learning experiences took place at Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens. Beginning autumn semester of 2020 with Dr. Davies’s Practical Skills for Terrestrial Ecosystem Restoration course, the Arboretum hosted Alisa’s best opportunities for hands-on learning, with weekly outdoor restoration labs focusing on invasive species removal, erosion control, GPS/GIS usage, and vegetation surveying among other topics. Later, as a horticulture intern in the summer of 2021, Alisa continued her hands-on education at Chadwick, working to ensure the arboretum’s daily maintenance while learning about the specific needs of each plant. The experiences combined for an education in the real-world practices of ecosystem restoration that will serve Alisa well in her future career.
The research completed as part of her SENR honors experience offered Alisa the chance to develop and execute her own field research. Her research project, begun in August 2020, involves analyzing water samples from below Alum Creek Dam to detect the presence of mudpuppy eDNA and is aimed toward determining the best season for sampling to ensure accurate eDNA detection. Samples are analyzed at the Peterman Lab in Kottman Hall and are then taken to the lab at The Wilds near Cumberland, OH for further analysis. Alisa is currently in the process of writing her thesis. She reflected, “Having the opportunity to do research as an undergrad while being provided with so many resources has given me an overwhelming feeling of self-accomplishment.”
Through Growth International Volunteer Excursions (GIVE), Alisa had the opportunity to travel to Tanzania in July 2019. The program, which focuses on asset-based community development and creating positive relationships with host communities, saw Alisa teaching daily English lessons to fifth graders, aiding in the construction of a school office building, and working toward the establishment of a permaculture plot. She recalled the experience both as a chance to serve and an opportunity for personal growth. Alisa shared, “I learned about what it means to be a global citizen while promoting sustainable community development and making friends on the other side of the world.”
Alisa identifies Dr. Matt Davies as her undergraduate mentor, sharing, “Over the three semesters that I spent as Matt’s student, I continually found myself wanting to know more about the science and decision-making behind restoring ecosystems. It wasn’t just the content that had me so engaged, but also Matt’s teaching style. Matt made every class equally as entertaining as he did educational. He presented each ecological solution within restoration as both a science and an art. Matt’s passion for the field has inspired me to pursue a career in ecological restoration.”
Following graduation, Alisa plans to pursue employment in ecological restoration, with plans to work for several years before pursuing a master’s degree in environmental resilience and adaptation.
Service, involvement, and accolades: SUSTAINS Learning Community | GIVE Volunteers, president and other leadership roles | College Mentors for Kids | Society for Ecological Restoration |SENR Ambassador | Buck-I-SERV | Columbus Zoo and Aquarium volunteer | Sustainability Institute’s Women in Sustainability, student lead