The semester has finally come to an end and I have to say I’m more than pleased with these past few months. For starters, I received an A+ in all three of my classes. Not sure I’ve ever been able to say that. It turns out classes are much easier to study for and succeed in when you are actually interested in the material. I am planning to ask the professor of my wetlands biogeochemistry class to sit on my graduate committee because his background in the chemical processes in soils in southern Louisiana will be invaluable help in my research. Plus he has kept in touch with several of his past graduate students which have gone on to work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, one of the two federal agencies I would like to work for once I graduate.
I’ve also got about 5 months of sampling under my belt with only 7 more months of pulling water samples hopefully. But for now my undergraduate student, Skylar, and I have fallen into a smooth routine so that we complete sampling regime in under 12 hours start to finish. On top of that, the Mississippi River has been in a flood stage the since last week so I’ve been pulling samples twice a week and will continue to do so as the river’s flow rises, peaks, and falls. And on top of that I’ve also recently been assisting Skylar with applying for an undergraduate grant to complete her own small research project. If she is awarded it, her and I will be adding three more sites to our sampling regime. A few weeks ago I went out doing some recon on potential new sites and ran into an alligator that was sunbathing in the middle of the road. He was easily 10 feet long. Of course he ran away as soon as I pull out my phone to document proof. While it’s very time consuming, I will miss doing field work once my data collection is complete as there’s no better way to learn science than by doing it.
In April I was fortunate enough to present my preliminary research of floodplain influence on metals transport in the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River System at the 11th Annual Louisiana Surface Water, Groundwater, and Water Resources Symposium hosted by the Louisiana Geological Survey. There were around 100 professionals/ students in attendance at the conference which was over Spring Break…… While the results of my research were very preliminary, it was still excellent experience getting up and communicating my research to others. I’ll spend this summer continuing to analyze about two and a half years worth of data on 30 different types of metals as well as other river parameters. I hope to have a draft paper of my this research submitted to a journal publication by the start of fall semester. The week following this presentation I was also awarded a grant from the Louisiana Environmental Education Consortium to help support my data collection. It’s a very small amount relative to the cost of my work however if there is one thing that I’ve learned about research since starting here, take any form of help you can get.
So between passing all my classes, receiving grant funding, and presenting at a statewide conference, I’m am actually very happy with how things have started here. I had no idea I would be able to achieve so much in only one semester. Makes me feel prepared and excited for the road to come. And a lot has happened already since the closing of the semester. Meredith and I got to enjoy a “staycation” in Louisiana with the DeYoung family and only a day after they left I headed out west for a backpacking trip with my brother. I have a backlog of writing to do, good thing I have a week left of “vacation”.