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Oct. 5, 2017
By Taylor Middleton
Two Northwest Missouri State University students participated in geologic research during the summer that will set them apart from other undergraduates in the environmental geology field.
Brenna Mabry and Victoria Bruck joined Assistant Professor of Geology Dr. Lorita Mihindukulasooriya on the research trip July 10-21 to Huron, Ohio. Mabry completed her bachelor’s degree during the summer in geology. Bruck is a junior environmental geology major from Atlantic, Iowa.
“Undergraduate research for geology majors is not that common in other schools,” Bruck said. “Having a better relationship with your professors to get those opportunities, it shows that you have the experience over other undergraduate students.”
Students spent two weeks in the Old Woman Creek (OWC) National Estuarine Research Reserve, collecting water samples and daily water quality data within the estuary. The purpose of the research is to study the status of the harmful algal blooms of Lake Erie.
The students collected daily water samples and field water quality data for two weeks, using state-of-the-art remote sensing equipment and software with collaborator Kent State University Professor Joseph Ortiz. Students gained experience in lab research and networking connections beyond their undergraduate degree work.
This was the second consecutive year that Mihindukulasooriya collaborated with Northwest students on the research at Lake Erie. The project gives students a profession-based learning experience with an opportunity to involve in cutting-edge research in the field, work in a national lab and collaborate with professionals from Kent State University and the Ohio Department of Natural resources, as well as NASA Glenn Research Center.
“For the students, I want to give them the opportunity to join in research that’s going to be published in internationally recognized journal articles,” Mihindukulasooriya said.
The students say they are grateful for the hands-on field opportunities Northwest’s Department of Natural Sciences and College of Arts and Sciences offer to conduct research.
“It was a good experience because I learned where I need to be and what I need to learn, it created a clear path,” Bruck said. “This could be a real-life opportunity. I could actually be working in this lab someday.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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