iUTAH Undergraduate iFellows
Week 8 Recap
July 3-7, 2017
Simulating rain events on a small patch of roof is not quite as easy as I thought it would be. To gather more detailed data for the pump house roof, I have been using a backpack sprayer to spray water onto a metal portion of the roof and the photovoltaic cell and collecting samples from each surface. This requires 7.14 gallons of water and two nearly full sprayers. Standing on a ladder in the middle of a day pumping a heavy sprayer strapped to your back is not fun at all. However, this simulation has answered some interesting questions I've had. For this week's cohort meeting, we gave our preliminary poster presentations. I was nervous for mine, but I received some very positive feedback. We also went to the Red Butte garden area to check out the dam there, which was AMAZING! The day was blazing hot, but being able to check out the dam up close and checking out the control room was really worth it.
This week was spent fiddling with graphs and figures for the poster presentation. I am using GIS for mapping and analyzing measured conditions and then comparing them to modeled predictions. My ArcMap skills proved a bit dustier than I thought, but after several failed attempts at importing xy data and several Youtube videos later… success! The cohort meeting went really well and I received some useful feedback on the design of my poster. Presenting to the group also helped me see the areas I’m not as comfortable talking about and still need practice with. Looking forward to the symposium.
Last week I was working with Andy on our data analysis some more. I gathered all of the GAMUT data from Hydroshare that we needed, and organized it for analysis along with our bird data. We met with Susan Durham again to discuss data modeling for the GAMUT data. I also fixed up my poster draft and set it up for the Cohort Session on Friday.
This was a good and constructive week! I always enjoy the 4th of July. It is a great opportunity to celebrate this country we live in and the freedom we enjoy that enables us to study and research almost anything we find interesting and important!
As far as my iUtah experience this week, I was able to practice presenting my poster a couple of times. I was able to have a practice presentation with my mentors research group (which includes 2 individuals with a doctorate degree and 3 masters students). I was given valuable feedback and able to make a lot of meaningful and important changes to my poster before another practice presentation at the iFellow cohort session on Friday. The iFellows and iUtah staff were again able to offer me useful suggestions to make my poster more concise and consistent. I was grateful for this feedback.
At the cohort session we also took a field trip to Red Butte Creek Canyon, which is actually closed to the public because it has been deemed a scientific research area. This means the nature is barely disturbed and in its natural form. You definitely felt the sense of exclusivity, knowing some people will never get the chance to see the canyon we were in. We had a guided tour of the dam and its facilities. It was a very interesting experience. We were accompanied by different people from the Salt Lake City Mayors office and Utah Division of Water Resources. We were able to see different monitoring techniques of the dam water. One monitoring technique we saw was a piezometer. This well and drop-sensor allowed them to gauge the amount of leakage in the dam itself. We were also able to physically see the leakage that seeps through the ground as a water flow in a hole further down the dam embankment. They also showed us the dam controls and how they can allow more or less water to flow from the reservoir. All together it was a fun and interesting field trip!
This week was very productive. We were not able to get into the field, however, on Friday we visited Red Butte Dam with those who manage the research area which was both educational and interesting.
Most of the week was spent analyzing data collected in the field throughout May and June. I also got a draft of a research poster completed and got some valuable feedback from other iFellows in preparation for the iUTAH symposium next week.
This week flew by with having the holiday on Tuesday! I was able to spend all day rock climbing in the area and watching fireworks! Then Wednesday was back to work and started creating my poster. I also had to finish and submit my abstract for my poster for the Symposium coming up next week! After finishing up my poster draft, Friday was fun spending the day in Salt Lake and getting to see all of the iFellows posters and receive feedback as well. It was very useful. The field trip was also very hot but pretty interesting as we got a little tour of the Red Butte Creek Dam.
I have never spent so much time in a lab than this past week. Everyday I would wake up at 7am and get to the lab by 8am, and not get home till 8pm or later. The longest day being 8am-11:30pm. With all my soil and plant tissue samples finally dried and ground it was time to finally start analyzing. For the soil samples I have decided to test for: Texture, organic matter, nitrate, pH, electrical conductivity, total carbon, and a total ICP-OES test. For my plant samples I am testing for: total carbon and nitrogen, and running a plant nutrient test on the ICP-OES.
After four long and hard days in the lab, I finally had some results that I could work with in preparing my rough draft poser. Although i'm still not done with the analysis phase, It feels good to have a couple graphs that I can look at. So far from what I have seen, there is a noticeably higher concentration of soil organic matter near the Soapstone campsite. Since OM significantly influences mercury and strontium in the biosphere, it is possible that this area may be holding more of the trace metals and will need more attention for future sampling.
This week I finished up LiCor measurements in Red Butte Garden. I finalized and submitted the abstract for my research poster and finished a draft of the poster I’m presenting next week. I learned more about using R studio with Anna’s help, and started to feel more confident about the research I’ve done. On Friday, we went on a field trip to the Red Butte Canyon research area and dam, which was exciting because I’ve never been there. We learned about the history and workings of the dam and a bit about hydrology and conservation efforts of Red Butte Canyon and Creek. I’m getting nervous to present my poster at the iUtah Symposium next week, but it was nice to practice and get feedback at our cohort session this week.
This week I got to run more total phosphorous samples and more dissolved reactive phosphorous. We also started to read protocol on how to run an experiment on how phosphorous levels change help make a certain type of bacteria grow or not. I also got to go to the chemistry store here on campus to purchase tubing for the bottle that we will be running the tests on because it needs to be autoclaved and we didn’t have the correct tubing to autoclave it all together. I also got to cut those tubes into appropriate lengths and we are still waiting for more tubing because we have a lot of experiments to run. Also my plates that I made 2 weeks ago didn’t grow anything from Farmington Bay and I am not sure if I made them wrong or if there just wasn’t any cyanobacteria in the samples I used. On Friday we had our cohort meeting and I got a lot of good advice for my poster and I realized how much I don’t know about what I am presenting and I hope to learn and create a better one by Thursday, which is the symposium.
This week we have been focusing on testing our water samples in the lab. We are using our spectrophotometer more, but are getting some wonky readings. Wonky is the technical term apparently. We will be taking our samples to another researchers lab to see if their machine gives us the same readings or not.
“My main focus this week was on my poster for the iUTAH symposium. I completed my map of the NWS Weather Forecasting Offices, which was a big milestone. It is good for me to work through and learn some of the GIS software! With some good feedback from Dr. Howe and from Friday’s cohort session my poster should be looking great by the time the symposium rolls around. Some of my other time was spent catching up on reading from a textbook titled Environmental Hazzardsby Keith Smith. One of the key points that Smith makes is that for a disaster to happen, “a series of cumulative events has to occur” (Smith 50-51). This is called the swiss cheese model. If the holes is each slice of cheese line up, then disaster can happen. Some things that block the holes and act as layers of defense for communities are communities could be faith based organizations, access to natural resources, availability of government aid, or even good weather. Many things can act as disaster deterrents.”
We did our last sampling trips this week, and started to really analyze the data we have so far. There are already a few patterns emerging, hopefully there are more to come!
This week was very busy. On Monday I met with several professors and others to make sure everything would be ready to start my experiment on Wednesday. I obtained supplies, prepared equipment, and made plans for who would be going with me at various times.
On Wednesday I met with two others at 7am to go out to the field and set up the irrigation sprinkler. We also took water samples, set out collection containers, and set up air monitoring equipment to monitor air particles from the sprinkler. We were out for several hours taking samples, then left with most of the equipment around lunch time. The sprinkler we left running as a 12 hour run was needed. That afternoon I helped Chase simulate a rain event on a roof and prepared more sample containers for me experiment. That evening I went out at 7pm with some others to collect the sprinkler and obtain and process my first plant sample.
Thursday morning I again went to the field to take my second plant sample. After processing it I spent the rest of the day preparing containers to take samples all weekend. I also took measurements of the samples already taken. I read micro results on the water that afternoon, and on my plants at 9pm.
Friday after returning to Logan I again went out to collect more plant samples and process them. I will have to do the same process on Saturday and Sunday in order to get my daily samples for my study.
Work on my poster for the iUTAH symposium was my main focus this week. I has been interesting to be making a poster for iFellows and for a different presentation at the Environmental Society of America conference at the same time. These two posters are very different in their intended audience and thus in their structure, language, format and in the way I will present them. The iUTAH poster is geared toward a much broader audience, which is both easier because it is less technical, but also harder in a sense because all of the jargon that I might otherwise use needs to be replaced with description in plain English. I enjoyed presenting the poster, as a trial run, at our cohort meeting this week. It was nice to see what the poster will look like when it is larger than just on a computer screen, and most of all it was extremely helpful to see the posters of my peers to get ideas for areas I could improve my own poster and my own presentation.
Also during the cohort session this week, we got to go out the area of Red Butte Canyon that is cut off from public access and used to research only. I did not even know such an area existed so it was interesting and encouraging to see conservation and research efforts so close to the valley. We also got to see the dam that is in the canyon. We not only got to see the surface of the dam and the spillway, but also its inner-workings and plumbing that controls the flow and protects the valley from flooding should it be breached. It is easy to forget how much technology and manpower goes into maintaining not only that dam, but all of the dams and other forms of infrastructure that are essential for managing water here. Today was a good reminder of just how much goes on behind the scenes.
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.