The Nina Mason Pulliam is a 75-acre natural area on the Marian University campus that is open to Marian students and the Indianapolis community. We work year-round to restore the native wetlands, prairies, and forests found on our property. The EcoLab is a highly biodiverse area with rare wetland habitats and threatened animal species all within a few miles of downtown Indianapolis. Our goal is to restore and protect these lands so current and future Indianapolis residents are able to experience the beauty and wonder of Indiana’s native landscape.
We want to instill a love for nature into the hearts of Indiana’s future leaders: students. We offer a one-of-a-kind field trip system to 6-12th grade students where they will learn concepts from local environmental experts at Marian University. Upper level high school students also have the opportunity to experience the rigor of college-level curriculum and participate in active research projects. For current Marian undergraduate students, we offer paid internships through our decade-old internship program. The Ecolab also hosts several collegiate level-research projects from various Marian professors and students. We do all of this to fulfill the mission of the EcoLab: to create more and better environmental citizens.
Indiana residents of all ages are welcome to participate in the EcoLab through social media, community event days, and volunteerism. We post content of our restoration efforts, scenery, and fun events happening year-round. The EcoLab hosts educational events for the entire Indianapolis community on a variety of topics. Whether you volunteer for one day or a whole season, you become part of the EcoLab family and become an active participant in the conservation of our Indiana environment. We truly rely on the community’s support and we appreciate your desire to make a difference.
So, what are you waiting for? Visit today!
Hello EcoLab friends! I wanted to introduce myself—I’m Dr. Zach Sylvain, the new Science Director for the Nina Mason Pulliam EcoLab. I started this past August as an assistant professor in the Biology Department at Marian, where I’m teaching environmental science and ecology courses; I’ll also be conducting research in the EcoLab and other urban green spaces around Indianapolis. I focus mostly on invertebrate animals such as insects and soil organisms (little critters like mites and nematodes) and their interactions with plants. My background studying soil ecology even gave me a nickname—Dr. Dirt! Before I moved to Indianapolis I was teaching at Wartburg College in Iowa, and I’ve also worked with the Agricultural Research Service branch of the USDA studying rangeland restoration, and with the Canadian Forest Service studying insect outbreaks.
I’m looking forward to working closely with the EcoLab community to study how to better control invasive plants and more successfully restore degraded habitats with native plant species. My primary research interests are in understanding how invasive plants alter the soils in which they grow, and how this can prevent native plants from successfully re-establishing or assist in reinvasion by exotic species. Do plant invasions change the types of organisms that live in the soil and alter how those organisms interact with other plants? If so, can we address these changes so that we can create conditions more suitable for getting native plants to grow successfully once again? I’m also really interested to see whether invasive plants alter relationships and interactions between insects and plants present in an ecosystem.
When I’m not teaching classes or out getting dirty in the field, I really enjoy reading fiction and playing games with my friends. I also love spending time with my fiancée and our dog, a 2-year old Cardigan Welsh Corgi named Pippin (after the hobbit from The Lord of the Rings; hopefully we’ll be getting a partner in crime named Merry for him soon). It’s been great to explore the area and go for walks in the parks and green spaces around Indianapolis, and one of our favorites is of course the EcoLab—from his first walk there (leashed!), Pippin’s acted like he knows every nook and cranny of the grounds. I’m looking forward to getting to know the area so well myself!
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