Carley Cavanaugh Investigates Water Contaminants


[Carley Cavanaugh presents her research at the National Meeting of the Geological Society of America in Baltimore]

We all expect our drinking water to be clean, but what about the waterways we use for fishing, swimming, and other recreational activities? When we do find pollutants, who is to blame? Can we identify the culprits responsible for tainting our valuable natural resources? Research by CCSU Geological Sciences major Carley Cavanaugh (with help from 2015 department graduate Matthew Costa and faculty mentor Dr. Oluyinka Oyewumi) sought to answer these questions concerning the Farmington River. Carley’s work uncovered that the likely sources of lead, cadmium, chromium, and arsenic contamination of riverbed sediments are local farms and a gas station. She and her collaborators hope to submit their research for publication in the near future. Carley’s work received an award at the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Day at CCSU in May, and she received a $3000 scholarship from the Environmental Professionals of Connecticut earlier this year.

Student research changes lives CCSU. For more information on how you can be a part of it, contact Geological Sciences Chair Dr. Mark Evans at





Meet the Rock Stars, Part 10: Dr. Kristine Larsen


Name:   Dr. Kristine Larsen

Title: Professor

Year Started at CCSU: 1989

Courses Taught: AST 113 The Cosmos, AST 209 Stellar and Galactic Astronomy, AST 278 Observational Astronomy, AST 418 Astrophysics, AST 470 Extrasolar Planets and Astrobiology, FYS 104: First Year Seminar [topics include The Science of Middle-earth, The Science of The Walking Dead, Cultural Astronomy], GSCI 102 Earth and the Human Environment, HON 120 Natural Science and Society, ISCI 118 Women’s Contributions to Science, SCI 111 Elementary Physical/Earth Science

Current research projects: My research is in several different areas:

1) Variable stars: student-centered research involves the classification of individual variable stars through their light curves and physical properties; observations of sunspots and variable stars are submitted to the American Association of Variable Star Observers (of which I am currently President);

2) Science pedagogy: includes projects enhancing the preparation of science teachers and combating misconceptions in science, as well as conducting workshops in the use of a medieval astrolabe for teachers, students, and scholars in other disciplines;

3) Science and Popular Culture: myriad projects involving identifying and critiquing the use of science and depictions of both scientists and the scientific method in literature (including the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Robert Heinlein, Phillip Pullman, J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, and Andrzej Sapkowski), television (including Doctor Who, Lost, The Walking Dead, and Dominion), and film (including the Resident Evil series).

Favorite book: No contest here – The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien’s sweeping creation myth

Favorite film: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Favorite scientific term: syzygy

Something my students don’t know about me: During my first year as an undergraduate at CCSU I performed the part of Magenta in a live Rocky Horror company in Manchester. Every Saturday night at midnight we would perform the film live while the film itself played above us.