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Press Releases

Thursday, February 28, 2008

SU Research Combines Technology, Conservation

SALISBURY, MD---It takes a rare independence for undergraduates to pursue self-directed research outside of class. SU senior Zoe Hanley did just this when she decided to combine technology with her passion for wildlife conservation.

A senior majoring in biology, Hanley’s presentation is “Using LiDAR to Identify Potential Delmarva Fox Squirrel Habitat.” Similar to radar, LiDAR involves planes shooting lasers toward the ground to calculate landscape elevation. Hanley realized that LiDAR could be used to measure treetop elevation and canopy coverage, which itself could assist her in quickly locating ideal habitat for the endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrel.

Reviewing LiDAR scans, she selected those areas that seemed most likely to match the sort of habitat she was looking for and then went into the field to see if it was suitable. Hanley says that the positive link she discovered between LiDAR readings and beneficial habitats raises hope that LiDAR may be useful worldwide for quickly assessing suitable habitats for other endangered species.

Delivering her research as a poster presentation lets Hanley spend more time discussing the details of her research one-on-one with those interested. “I’m really looking forward to sharing my research with a wider scientific audience,” she says, “and getting feedback on how to fine-tune the process.” In addition, she’s excited about viewing the other presentations, hopeful they may inspire new ideas for future research.

NCUR is the largest undergraduate research conference in the nation. Some 2,800 undergraduate scholars from 400 institutions and representing more than 55 disciplines will present their research.

For more information call 410-677-5046 or visit the NCUR Web site at

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