Title
Bianca Wentzell, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biology

845-398- 4196
bwentzel@stac.edu
Office: Costello 113

Dr. Bianca Wentzell is an assistant professor of biology at St. Thomas Aquinas College where she teaches undergraduate courses including General Biology I, General Biology II, and Ecology. Dr. Wentzell earned her B.S. in Biology at Siena College in 2010 and her Ph.D. in Biology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2014. She conducted postdoctoral research at both Montclair State University and Kean University. Dr. Wentzell specializes in wetland ecology and plant biology. She conducts research on plant responses to human impact in wetland ecosystems. Dr. Wentzell also studies phytoremediation, which is a process that utilizes plants to remove contaminants from water or soil. Lemna minor, or the common duckweed, is her favorite plant to use for this purpose.


Courses

BIO 171: General Biology I

Introduction to biological principles including biomolecules, cell structures and division, photosynthesis, cellular respiration, genetics, and the genetic basis of evolution. Three lecture hours and one recitation hour per week.
Corequisite: BIO 173.

BIO 172: General Biology II

Introduction to biological principles including biological diversity, phylogeny, plant form and function, animal form and function, and interactions between organisms. Three lecture hours and one recitation hour per week.
Corequisite: BIO 174.

BIO 317: Ecology

Understanding interactions between organisms, as well as between organisms and their abiotic environments. This course emphasizes both theoretical and applied ecology at the levels of organism, population, community, ecosystem, and landscape. Laboratory activities involve hands-on field work as well as a scientific writing component. Three lecture hours and three lab hours per week.
Prerequisite: “C” grade or better in BIO 171, 172, 173, 174.


Research

Currently, I am examining the effects of various restoration strategies on vegetation succession in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. The Pine Barrens are well known for their sandy, acidic soil, which has been widely utilized for cranberry farming. Our research site consists of historic cranberry bogs that were donated to the New Jersey Conservation Foundation in order to be restored to their natural state as Atlantic white cedar swamps. Various farming and restoration strategies were employed throughout this site and I, along with collaborators from Kean University, am examining how the vegetation communities have responded and whether restoration of these crucial wetlands is successful.

I am also studying the ability of the common duckweed, Lemna minor, to remove nitrogen and phosphorus-containing compounds from eutrophic water bodies. Specifically, I am focusing on improving their removal abilities via the process of pre-conditioning. I hope that the improvement of duckweed phytoremediation systems will provide a sustainable solution to help people around the world who are facing water pollution and water scarcity.

I am always looking for students who are interested in learning about field work, wetlands, plant physiology, environmental chemistry, or who just want to learn about conducting scientific research. Do not hesitate to e-mail or stop by my office in Costello 113 to talk about research opportunities!


Publications

  • Bianca M. Wentzell, Charles W. Boylen, Sandra A. Nierzwicki-Bauer (2016) Wetland Ecosystem Comparison Using a Suite of Plant Assessment Measures. Ecological Indicators 67: 283-291. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2016.02.056
  • Bianca M. Pier, Brian R. Dresser, James J. Lee, Charles W. Boylen, Sandra A. Nierzwicki-Bauer (2015) Ecological Analysis Before and After Planting in a Constructed Wetland in the Adirondacks. Wetlands 35(3): 611-624. DOI: 10.1007/s13157-015- 0652-4
  • Bianca M. Pier (2014) Acclimation to and Mitigation of Anthropogenic Nutrients by Wetland Plants. Doctoral Dissertation, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 

Presentations (Selected)

  • Acclimation of Lemna minor to Anthropogenic Impact in Wetlands and Its Effect on the Removal of Excessive Nutrients. Society of Wetland Scientists International Conference. Providence, RI. June 2015.
  • The Importance of Wetlands and the Plants that Inhabit Them. Northeast Aquatic Plant Management Society Conference- Plenary Talk. Saratoga Springs, NY. January 2015.
  • Succession and Success: Pre- and Post- Planting Ecological Analysis of a Constructed Mitigation Wetland in the Adirondacks. Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting (International). Portland, OR. May 2014. *Won Best Oral Presentation*
  • What Plants Are Telling Us about the Status of Wetlands: A Case Study in the Lake George Watershed. Society of Wetland Scientists International Conference. Duluth, MN. June 2013.

Professional Affiliations

  • Society of Wetland Scientists
    • Current chair of Wetland Ambassadors Committee, for the development and execution of yearly international graduate student research fellowship program
    • Current member of Webinar Committee for the development and execution of monthly international webinar series for wetland scientists 
  • Northeast Aquatic Plant Management Society
    • Past recipient of society research scholarship
  • Friends of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
    • Current volunteer at Great Swamp NWR leading educational walks to teach both children and adults about wildlife observation, wetlands, and conservation