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Education and Outreach Programs

Lemont High School ESRP 2018

Continued Observations from X-ray Elemental Analysis of Ash Tree species related to the Growth of Emerald Ash Borer Populations


  • Students:
    • Benjamin Clarage
    • Kristen Hackiewicz
    • Vir Patel
    • Antoinetta Pintozzi
    • Ethan Potts
    • Caroline Pylypyuk
    • Janet Quiroz
    • Lindsay Selfridge
    • Joseph Spinelli
    • Lauren Toma
  • Teachers:
    • Erin Horan
  • Mentors:
    • Olga Antipova (Argonne National Laboratory, Advanced Photon Source)
    • Chuck Cannon (Morton Arboretum)
    • Joseph Jake (Argonne National Laboratory, Advanced Photon Source)
    • Qiaoling Jin (Argonne National Laboratory, Advanced Photon Source)
    • Robert Winarski (Argonne National Laboratory, Advanced Photon Source)

Advanced Photon Source Sector 2: Microscopy

In recent years, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has been a proliferating invasive species and environmental issue for the Midwest. These beetles are indigenous to Russia and Eastern Asian countries and are thought to have been introduced to the Midwestern region of the United States in the 1990’s. Over this period, the EAB has widened its range, killing green, black and white ash trees. With no certain sustainable solution to controlling this species, our student’s Exemplary Research Program from Lemont High School for the 2015 16 school year observed a variety of bark samples from common ash species including European Ash, Biltmore Ash, and Chinese Ash. It was found that the non resistant ash (Biltmore) contained three times more calcium in the phloem than the resistant Chinese Ash. Last year, the students continued to examine these three bark samples in order to test for anomalies and observed a thick bark Chinese Ash. It was found that the nonresistant European and Biltmore ash trees contained much larger amounts of calcium and potassium while the Chinese ash had an extreme amount of zinc. For the 2017 2018 school year, students collected ash tree bark for further analysis and leaf samples to test for further connections. This further research of the elemental differences could allow for future prevention of the EAB.

A better understanding of the EAB and their impact on ash species is important. If we can better understand EAB, perhaps we can attain an increased understanding of other invasive species. EAB are spreading almost completely unchecked in the Midwest. To this day, there is no certain solution to the control and spread of the beetles. Currently, the only counter to the spread of these beetles is through the use of expensive insecticides, and the culling of ash trees surrounding affected areas. Data collection will involve determining the specific elements and structures present in each sample. Then, the differences between each species will be compared along with the species’ resistance to the ash borer. Our group will use X-ray fluorescence to investigate the tissue structures of the ash.

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