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Dec. 6, 2016
By Lexi Ryan, media relations assistant
Three Northwest Missouri State University geology students last summer enhanced the skills they are learning in the classroom and prepared for their careers by participating in faculty research.
Marissa Arcuri, Alexandra Davis and Courtney Kern conducted the research during a two-week water quality research trip at the Old Woman Creek (OWC) National Estuarine Research Reserve in Huron, Ohio, under the supervision of Assistant Professor of Geology Dr. Lorita Nivanthi Mihindukulasooriya, who initiated the research project in collaboration with Dr. Joseph Ortiz, a professor in the Department of Geology at Kent State University.
The OWC reserve is one of the few remaining freshwater estuaries in the Lake Erie region. Students collected water samples and daily water quality data to monitor harmful algal blooms, which are the longest continuous record from the OWC estuary.
The group plans to present their research at the Geological society of America regional meeting next spring.
“This experience was an introduction to the kind of research I may expect when I want to attend graduate school or even in future careers,” Kern, a senior environmental geology major from Blue Springs, Missouri, said. “The information I gained by researching algal blooms in Lake Erie has applied more to my classes in past semesters, and I anticipate it will apply more directly to hydrology next semester when we learn about water resources.”
Students also collected water quality data from the Western Basin of Lake Erie in collaboration with NASA, Kent State and Bowling Green University.
“While we were collecting data using handheld sensors in the estuary, NASA Glenn in Cleveland simultaneously flew a research airplane at 11,000 feet and lower over Lake Erie’s Western Basin and OWC to collect high-resolution images,” Mihindukulasooriya said. “That way, NASA will be able to calibrate their hyperspectral satellite image system using our real time data.”
The students also visited Kent State in Ohio and the islands of Lake Erie.
“Visiting the university and the opportunity to see different research conducted there was important as all three of them are considering graduate school,” Mihindukulasooriya said. “Undergraduate research permitted these students to gain invaluable experience that broadened their knowledge, and definitely outstanding when applying for graduate schools and jobs.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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