iUTAH Undergraduate iFellows
Week 5 Recap
June 12-16, 2017
I hit the ground running this week with the rain we had Monday and Tuesday. Monday was not too bad since only our collection gutter was filled with stormwater, as there was not enough for groundwater penetration. However, by Tuesday morning there was plenty of samples to collect. First off, we collected samples that were taken during the night and were tool old for microbial analysis and distributed them to Trixie for metals and nutrient analysis. Then we took additional grab samples from the collection wells, along with more samples from the collection gutter, and samples from roofs that morning for microbial analysis. Yes, it was pouring and freezing at the time. More samples were taken in the afternoon from the same sources. All of the samples were processed for analysis that afternoon and we read the results Wednesday. The rest of the week was spent gathering more level actuators to alleviate the need to take grab samples and double checking the other samplers to be deployed to more sites on campus.
This week was so great! We were able to measure a part of the river we’ve been wanting to get to all summer thanks to a very gracious landowner. Not only did she let us access the river through her property, she hung out with us all day finding places to measure and even taking photos. We also revisited some sites to get repeat measurements. We found that one stream we visited was almost entirely dewatered. We worked a bit on how to analyze the data we have been collecting and how to visually represent what it all means.
This week I worked on finalizing research parameters and preparing for field work in the upcoming week. I made some data sheets and outlined specific factors for measuring human disturbance.
This week the model was completed enough to the point where it was usable. Just in time for me to put some scenarios together and get results for my summer project. I was able to use information from the Cache Country Master Water Plan to give me the exact and reliable values I needed for the scenarios. I have a small table and graph prepared for the iFellow cohort session Monday. I am excited to share what I have found. I am even more excited to have helped in the model this far and that it is usable and can produce results. Next week I will input USGS river gauge data to the model. Definitely kept busy this week!
This week we spent Monday finding more sites for field work and shoring up access to some private property. Unfortunately we were rained out on Tuesday, however I were able to work with some data that we had already gathered to continue working on spatial and temporal variation of native fish species habitat in the Weber watershed.
We were graciously granted access to 10,000 acres of private property with several important streams just north of the Uinta Mountains. Thanks to this access, we were able to take measurements closer to the headwaters which will help show differences in spatial variation.
This past week I spent every day outside finishing up my sampling throughout our 30 different blocks in Logan, Providence, and River Heights. I also spent a lot of time at the county assessor office looking up property ages and values. Since I’ve collected most of the data, I’ve spent hours inputting the data into our data sheet- so you could say it has been very productive and busy week. During the time while I’m not ‘experiencing’ with iUTAH I have been able to run, bike, kayak, hike, and rock climb which has been super fun and a good way to balance out my life.
It was an uneventful week. We went river sampling, the river is still very high, but we are noticing the thinning snow pack. Its finally warm enough to wear a t-shirt and shorts, even at the higher elevations. I spent some of my week reading some literature on lysimeters and on mercury and strontium. Its going to get very busy for me the next three weeks as my project will begin and hit full stride.
With both Bill and Kai gone this week, the undergrads in the lab had a bit of problem solving to do on our own. We’re still working on a meta-analysis, and received a large dataset from a couple of authors whose paper we’re extracting data from. It’s awesome that we have access to the raw data, but organizing it all is challenging. I was also in charge of watering the plants in the growth chamber while Kai is gone. The growth chamber experiment was pushed back to begin in July/August, which is a bummer since I won’t be around to help with that part of the process. However, I’ve narrowed down my approach to my individual research project, and will hopefully get the chance to go into Red Butte Garden next week to work on that.
This week we tried to find the plates that would be ideal to look at under the microscope. I also got to read a lot about how algae likes to clump together with a lot of different organisms to form a biofilm. Which is really useful for the bacteria, but not for us to look at under a microscope. We also had to problem solve because some issues started to come up about how we needed to treat the water samples once collected and how fast they needed to be tested. All in all this was a good week with a lot of new knowledge and fun. I also got married on Friday, making this a very busy week overall.
Our team was able to collect samples from Farmington Bay and Utah Lake this week. I was able to participate in acidifying some of our water samples in order to prevent the samples from changing during storage. I had my first opportunity to extract DNA from our filter medium as well. We followed the protocol for extraction and successfully extracted DNA from all 4 filters. Very exciting!! Next week we will need to start analyzing sample for P. I can't wait.
This week I finished helping Yajie with her data collection and made significant progress on my own work. By Monday afternoon I completed gathering data from a set of over 200 tweets about heat related weather events. Working with Yajie (my near peer mentor) has been excellent. It is valuable to have someone working close by who knows not just how to collect data but seeks for high quality work. I am glad to have had the chance to contribute to her work. Working with Yajie I have learned about the importance of having validity and reliability in Social Science (and science in general). It is important that I can make my studies both reproducible and accurate within the time frame that I have.
After Monday I was able to really dig in and start my own work. I revised and improved my coding scheme (plan for data collection), checked my Excel filters and started sifting through NWS tweets. Each of the tweets was selected from a list of more than 35,000 to contain key words about heat/hot weather and warning/advisory messages. I also selected tweets containing the corresponding Spanish words. My sample will include about 1,200 tweets from Weather Forecasting Offices (WFO’s) in the southwest United States and on in Miami. I choose these particular offices because they serve some of the highest Hispanic populations in the nation. The idea is to determine if these offices communicate warnings and important safety education messages effectively to Hispanic audiences. Here is a list of the offices I picked and the corresponding Hispanic population:
- Brownsville (90.04%)(BRO)(19.06%)
- El Paso (74.54%)(EPZ)(12.37%)
- Midland (47.02%)(MAF)(6.74%)
- San Angelo (27.02%)(SJT)(2.26%)
- Corpus Cristi (67.69%)(CRP)(8.33%)
- Phoenix (33.05%)(PSR)(5.55%)
- Hanford (51.98%)(HNX)(10.15%)
- Tucson (36.19%)(TWC)(3.77%)
- Albuquerque (43.94%)(ABQ)(3.23%)
- Miami (40.48%)(MFL)(11.03%)
The first percentage is the Hispanic population and the second (smaller) percentage is the percent of the total population in that WFO’s jurisdiction that speaks English not very well or not at all. Brownsville in particular has a large need for risk communication in Spanish. An interesting thing I noticed as I began collecting data from tweets is that some of the offices automate warning messages into Spanish and English. Flood, tornado, and thurderstorm warnings have been tweeted automatically in both languages whereas heat has not.
Both in the lab and in the field, a lot of work was accomplished this week. We sampled both river sites and performed multiple tests on instruments in the Utah Water Research Laboratory. It's still too early to see real results, but within the next few weeks we will know if our hypothesis is correct. Here is a picture of a tree affected by the beaver population.
On Monday morning I went out by the landfill to collect groundwater samples for arsenic analysis. It is always fun out in the field, although this trip was very windy and rainy. However, since it was raining I was able to go out with Chase Monday afternoon and all day Tuesday to collect rainwater runoff samples for his project. We got a number of samples that we were able to test using the IDEXX system with all results done by Wednesday. The rest of the week we spent some time getting equipment ready for future rain events.
Also this week I was offered the opportunity to join the iFellows program. After working out details I officially joined and talked with Dr. Dupont about what my specific project will be. I will be looking at microbial levels in a wastewater reuse system. So far we have just worked on setting up a time to go and collect samples, so not much has happened for my project. Still, we do have data on the microbe levels in the wastewater influent and effluent.
This week we found ourselves in limbo, waiting for the mesocosm that are integral to our experimental design. It was a good reprieve to get to some of the articles I had been meaning to read, to further familiarize myself with the context of the study, and to practice our sampling protocol and running the gas chromatograph. Sampling and running the GC have become much easier and less intimidating that they were when I first started out with each. I enjoy both parts of this project very much now, and look forward to getting to implement in the coming weeks once we get rolling and start collecting our real data set.
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.