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Widener Student Clinton Global Initiative Project Examining Harmful Effects of Herbicides

December 17, 2013
Nicole Gillette for Clinton Story blog post 12-17-13

Nicole Gilete in a Widener laboratory.

By Maria Klecko ’15

Nicole Gilette’s passion for research has sparked her investigation of a global phenomenon.

Gilette has been awarded funding for her research in conjunction with Widener biology Professor Itzick Vatnick and two other Widener students who are studying the effects of herbicides in aquatic ecosystems.

Her project was one of five chosen last spring to receive funding for the 2013-2014 academic year as part of the Clinton Global Initiative program. Widener is the first university in the Philadelphia region to join the Clinton Global Initiative University Network as featured in an article in the spring 2013 issue of Widener Magazine.

“This project wasn’t something I’d focused on before, but it’s opened my eyes to different things I can do with research,” said Gilette, a sophomore biology and biochemistry double major from Audubon, Pa. “It’s helped me realize that research doesn’t always go according to plan. I’ve become a lot more patient with the process.”

Widener has partnered with the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina for the project. The collaboration began when a student from there came to Widener as part of the study abroad program. Vatnick works with both universities in their research as the teams have conducted the same experiment.

Gilette and the other researchers have found that herbicides affect the physiology of crayfish. The findings provide evidence that herbicides are harmful to aquatic ecosystems. Gilette says that over time the negative effects of herbicides can alter the makeup of an ecosystem because ecosystems depend on their natural state.

“This project brings more awareness to the dangers of herbicides,” she said.

Gilette feels honored to be part of the Clinton Global Initiative Program. “It makes us more connected with the world,” she said.

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