Savannah River Site Internship Benefit Two Morris College Students During Classroom Exercise

October 05, 2021

On Thursday, September 2, 2021, Dr. Dorothy B. Bishoff, associate professor of Biology in the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics’ Ecology class (Bio 305) did a simulation of quadrat sampling.  This technique is used to estimate the numbers of sedentary living organisms (like plants) in a given area without having to count each and every one.  An example would be a forester trying to estimate how many trees of different species were growing in the forest he or she was monitoring on the basis of a limited numbers of samples. 

As an added bonus, two of Dr. Bishoff’s students, Takeara Robinson and Kelise Gadsden interned at the Savannah River Site this past summer and shared their experiences with ecological sampling in their research, bringing personal experiences to her classroom. 

Instead of trees in a forest, Dr. Bishoff and her class used different types of writing implements that were scattered on the lawn in front of the Wilson-Booker Science building.  First, students marked out one-meter distances across the short side of the lawn (labeled A through I) and then down the long side (1 – 24).  Next, they randomly drew one letter and one number from two bowls to determine which quadrat (in this case a 1-meter x 1 meter square) to sample.  For example, if they drew C 7, they would move 3 meters from the short side corner (to column C), and 7 meters from the long side corner (to row 7) to see how many lead pencils, markers and colored pencils were in the quadrat, which they defined with a rope knotted to allow for measuring a square meter.  One student kept track of the data obtained.  The class randomly sampled 20 quadrants, roughly 10% of the 215 square meters of the Wilson-Booker Science front lawn.

                The class then gathered up all their equipment and returned to the lab. In addition, Dr. Bishoff and her class counted the actual numbers of colored pencils, markers and lead pencils that had been on the lawn.  They compared those numbers with the numbers they would have expected, based on their sampling.  Most of the time their expected numbers closely approximated the actual numbers, but sometimes the expected numbers they calculated were much higher or much lower than expected.  They discussed why those outliers might have occurred.  Dr. Bishoff and her class will return to this data later in the semester when they discuss community organization.

To inquire about having Morris College students serve as interns in your organization, contact Ms. Towanna Hicks, Career Services Director at (803) 934-3192 or