Major—Geoscience: Environmental Science
Graduation Date: May 8, 2009
Research Project Performed: January 5, 2009 to May 7, 2009
My research project investigates how hot and cold thermal pulses are able to penetrate and move through the sediment of a stream near where surface water and groundwater meet, called the hyporheic zone. This study is important because the temperature of flowing water affects dissolution rates of local geology, which may be linked to sinkhole formation. Also, thermal activity of natural waters affects the system as a whole when it comes to biological activity and phenomena like runoff and flooding. Thermal pulse movements also affect the interaction between surface water and groundwater, especially in aquifers, which is where we get most of our drinking water.
The WSU Geoscience Department’s laboratory flume is being used to model the natural stream settings since there is no way to control important variables such as flow rate, slope, sediment size, sediment sorting, and flow depth in nature, but these conditions can be manipulated and modeled within the flume for an accurate representation of the natural settings. The flume allows for effective modeling of a natural stream and control over these variables for a better understanding of the natural conditions and how they interact within the natural system. The concepts that are learned in the lab with the artificial stream can then be applied to a natural stream setting. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the suitability of a laboratory flume for demonstrating and studying stream processes.
I plan on presenting the findings of my research to the Geoscience Department at WSU through a presentation and a poster before I graduate in May 2009. I may also be writing a summary paper to go along with these forms of data presentation. This would also be done before May 8th, 2009.
Future goals: After I graduate in May, I plan on working in the environmental sciences field somewhere in Minnesota. I would like to work for a private company, the government, or for anyone that would like to hire me as an employee. Possibilities may include the National Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, or state or local branches of the EPA.
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