iUTAH Undergraduate iFellows
Week 4 Recap
June 5-9, 2017
Ohhh boy… this was a good week. Green Meadows is now done, mulch and all. Trixie, Connor, and I went down to Salt Lake to pick up a couple auto-samplers to use in my project Thursday, and promptly bleached and cleaned them. Now, I pretty much have a flee of auto-samplers on use on my project that are all ready to go. We have also set up two sampling sites on the USU campus; there is a third site, but we ran out of tubing for the samplers. We have also been running more tests on the canal water to dilute it enough so that our tests are not totally overloaded, those will be ready to read later tonight. There might be some rain next week, so let’s hope for the best!
This week we spent some time discussing how the data we are collecting will be analyzed, had some training on the RTK, and spent two days in the field collecting data. Field sites this week included repeating some measurements in Morgan County, taking new measurements at Kamp Kissel near Causey Reservoir, and new measurements in Park City. The RTK is a really neat GPS surveying device that we will use to measure the slope of the river. You can see it set up in the photo below, taken at Cottonwood Creek in Morgan County.
Last week I worked on visiting all of the Gamut water sites and mapping out the places where we will be doing field data collection. I met with the Gamut technicians for each watershed who showed me how to get to all of the sites. I worked on my poster a bit, and worked on detailing methods of determining human disturbance.
Things this week have been good. We have used a lot of the data we found last week to build the Bear River model. The model is running much better but is not yet fully complete. My near-peer mentor is working to ensure it is done as soon as possible. We should be able to create the scenarios to run in the model next week. This will give me the information needed to organize my "homework" for iFellow cohort #4. I am glad the work is progressing, it is fun to see.
As a fun side note, some of the other iFellows at Utah State and I have started to play billiards after work, excuse me, after our daily research experiences. Perhaps I will include a photo next week.
This week Lindsay and I began by identifying possible locations to take new measurements. We had contacted the Boy Scouts of America last week for permission to access a few streams near Camp Kiesel just east of Causey Reservoir in Weber county. They graciously gave us access to the property and we were able to take some great measurements there this week.
We also found several access sites in Park City and intended to remeasure a few sections in Morgan county to help us calculate short term temporal variability. We found a reach of the Weber river we had measured previously was running several feet higher, unfortunately making it inaccessible.
While in Park City we met up with our near-peer mentor, Maggi Kraft, who walked us through her model, taught us how to deploy and read temperature loggers and use a Real Time Kinematic (RTK) sensor that we will be using to get cross sections and measure gradient at each site.
This week was full of field work sampling and entering data. On Monday we had our third Cohort Session in Provo at BYU. It was good for me to practice explaining the intro and methods part of my poster so that I could repeat and polish my 3-min pitch. Then we got to go on a fieldtrip and see two of the GAMUT sights along the Provo River. After getting back to Logan, I spent the week outside sampling 3 blocks a day and even started to bike around town while sampling which was a little faster than walking. After sampling a block, I go to the County Assessor’s office and gather data such as property age and current value. Now I’ll be doing a lot of data entry this upcoming week!
We went field sampling twice this week! Although our first trip on Tuesday 6/6 was largely unfruitful and turned into a snow pack observation day. We were slightly disappointed to still see 4 ft of snow on top of our second lysimeter site. When we went again on Thursday 6/8 we could easily see that about 2 ft of snow had melted. This has us hoping that by early next week the second lysimeter might be uncovered and that we'll be able attempt soil water extraction again.
Another large chunk of our week was dedicated to determining what future sampling we want to do. Some things discussed were adding more river sampling sites in the upper Provo river. We hope that by doing so will help us to better map out the spacial variations of Strontium in the river. if we observe a jump in concentrations at some point in the river, we can infer that there is potentially a point source. We also want to start characterizing the soil physics more. By sampling and testing the soil we hope to gain a better understanding of the rate that Mercury moves in the soil. Because soil physical properties impact the permeability of water in the soil. It was also discussed that we might want to start looking into the amount of Strontium that is captured in the plant life. We are considering taking trunk cores, and leaf samples from the top, middle, and bottom of the tree, and shrub. We will continue to think about how we best want to approach this future sampling, and find literature that will give us established methods of analysis.
This week I spent a lot of time working on a meta-analysis, which mostly involves extracting data from already published research. Friday Kai and I went out to Red Butte Garden for some more measurements with the LiCor. Next week Bill and Kai will both be gone, so I’m hoping things don’t get too crazy without supervision!
The focus of this week was a field work expedition on the Bonneville Salt Flats (BSF). Evan and I spent three days identifying and sampling wells across the BSF. On top of using a multiparameter probe and becoming familiar with our pump, I also gained skills in driving a UTV and towing a trailer this week. The days were hot and lacking in shade most of the time but it was still a magnificent and valuable experience. I was able to interact with our USGS collaborators, microbiology team collaborators from Billy Braselton's lab, and learn more from my own team from the Bowen lab. Throughout the three days, we were able to interact with members from the racing community as well as tourists simply passing by hoping to catch a glimpse of this surreal landscape. We also assisted collaborators from MesoWest install a brand new camera at their weather station and one of the very first images to be captured from the camera is of myself and Evan hammering away at a steel post on the salt flats! It's exciting to know that not only am I producing data for our lab but that I am now also considered data!
We learned a lot about GAMUT sites and it was so cool to finally see one in person. I also got to learn how to acid wash bottles, and how to acidify samples to use in a TOC machine. I honestly thought that acid washing bottles would be a little more difficult, but it was a lot easier and really fun to do. A TOC machine can measure different elements in the water, which was really cool to learn how to do that. I also learned how to make agar, BG-11 agar to be more specific. I even got to pour some plates to learn how to do that. I got to see examples of cyanobacteria under a microscope, and an inverted microscope and learned how to use each of those machines. I also got to read more articles about measuring toxins, and make a EPA for what we plan on doing for measuring toxins.
This week we were able to take water samples at both Utah Lake and Deer Creek Reservoir. While at Deer Creek we were bombarded by high winds and large swells. Our boat had a hard time anchoring due to the conditions, and we didn't feel that it was safe to continue. Our filter o-rings didn't arrive yet, so I had to manually create pressure to filter our samples in the lab. (See the picture attached.)
This week I spent a lot of time on National Weather Service Twitter feeds! I have almost completed my section of the coding/analyzation of the tweets. These particular tweets have been filtered to contain all the tweets discussing heat or extreme heat events. There are a list of 9 variables I look for in each tweet. It is interesting to me to notice the differences in communication strategies between each WFO or Weather Forecasting Office. Some offices communicate heat by using Heat Indices while others use combinations of Heat Indices, temperature and safety warnings. I hope that my work this week will help my near peer mentor in her work!
Outside of my work with iUTAH, I have been using some of my spare time to learn a new hobby. Bird watching! Logan is a great place to look for birds from your backyard to the fresh and saltwater marshes around the Great Salt Lake.
This week my team decided not to sample at the rivers. All week was spent filtering samples and training at the Utah Water Research lab. We resume sampling Monday of next week. I can't wait to fully understand the testing processes in the weeks to come.
This week we visited the waste water treatment plant. Although in terms of the reason we went there, in search of mesocosms for our experiment, we were unsuccessful, we got to learn a lot about the plant and their plans for the future from it's director who is clearly passionate about his job. This is the second week in a row I've gotten the chance to see someone outside academia who is so excited about the job they do and the impact they can make on water quality and ecosystem and human health here in Utah. It has been highly inspirational and encouraging to see so many people who love what they do and make a difference on top of it all.
As for our research, we did at least get to further scope out our field sites and test the floatation devices we plan to use to get from site to site. I also got to spend a day outside practicing the gas sampling protocol so that things go smoothly when it is time for the actual experiment. So l, all and all, it was another great week where I got to spend some time outside in this beautiful state, and learn a lot on top of it all.
All content provided on this iUTAH Team - Undergraduate iFellows weekly recap is unedited, updated by each participant to provide a review of their progress, and is for informational purposes only.