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Participation in research benefits students educationally, professionally, and personally. Some of the benefits of undergraduate research include:

*              Receive up to 9 course credits (4998 - Undergraduate Research in Earth Sciences)

*              Nurture lifelong connections with a faculty mentor

*              Apply concepts learned in class to "real life" situations

*              Sharpen your problem-solving and time-management skills

*              Explore and prepare for future careers

*              Develop marketable skills

*              Enhancing your professional communication skills

*              Collaborate with others and work effectively as part of a team

*              Grow as a critical, analytical, and independent thinker

*              Meet challenges and demonstrate the ability to complete a project

*              Discover careers and explore personal interests

If you want to know more about how to get involved and what opportunities exist, visit the OSU-Mansfield Research Website or the OSU Undergraduate Research Office Website.

If you want to be part of my research team, send me an e-mail. I will contact you within 24 hours to set up an appointment where I will explain the details of the project and discuss your participation.

Students wanting to develop a project for their honors thesis are particularly welcome. Independent study credits (EARTHSCI 4998 - 3 credits per semester), work study, and paid research assistantships are available in the following projects:

1) Stream chemistry & watershed characteristics in the Mohican River Watershed: Streams and rivers are strongly influenced by the geology, topography, vegetation, and by human activities that alter land cover and the hydrologic pathways, ultimately affecting most of the interactions between the landscape and the streams. This project will examine the effects of catchment properties on the hydrochemistry and habitat complexity of headwater streams from a mixed-use watershed in North-Central Ohio (the Mohican River Watershed). Our goal is to develop a comprehensive, integrated hydrogeomorphic framework that takes into account uncertainties in spatial and temporal variation, and can be applicable in a regional scale. To learn more about this project check out the following links:

*    Introduction: Influence of land use on stream chemistry

*    A review article about the influence of land use on stream ecosystems

2) Understanding the effects of discharge on nutrient fluxes in a mixed-use watershed: Variations in discharge (stream flow) can affect the rate at which nutrients and contaminants are delivered to stream systems. It can also compound the effects of the landscape on nutrient fluxes to and from these streams. In this project, the analysis of field measurements and nutrient data will help us understand how variations in stream flow (such as those produced by rainfall events) will affect the water quality (i.e. the amount of pollutants) in local streams throughout the year. Time will also be spent on the lab performing water and sediment analysis. Activities in this project include measuring water quality and stream discharge (stream flow) during both baseflow and stormflow conditions and use this info to model the relationship between discharge and nutrient concentration in the Mohican River Watershed. To learn more about this project check out the following links:

*    Introduction: Influence of land use on stream chemistry

*     Patterns of hydrologic control over stream N:P ratios

*    Watershed discharge modulates relationships between landscape components and nutrient ratios

3) How distance from stream and the size of the catchment and riparian area affect stream water quality: In a densely vegetated watershed, most rainfall is absorbed and slowly released over a long period of time, with relatively little direct surface runoff to streams. The conversion of natural vegetation to urban, agricultural and pastoral uses has increased the runoff of nutrients and pollutants to streams. In this project, we will use GIS modeling and spatial statistics to evaluate the influence of the size of the catchment and the riparian area on nutrient concentrations in streams from the Mohican River Watershed. To learn more about this project check out the following links:

*    Introduction: Influence of land use on stream chemistry

*    Modeling the effect of non-point source pollution on water quality parameters

4) Investigating the physical controls on the water quality of north-central Ohio lakes: Lakes and reservoirs have the potential to act as important sinks for the increased global supply of reactive nitrogen. They can mediate the export of nutrients from watersheds to the coastal ocean but the physical controls on these nutrient fluxes are poorly described. In this project, we will identify the factors affecting the transport and dynamics of nutrients from north-central Ohio lakes. To learn more about this project check out the following links:

*    National Lakes Assessment

*    Eutrophication of U.S. Freshwaters: Analysis of Potential Economic Damages

*    Assessing Surface Water Quality and Its Relation with Urban Land Cover Changes

*    The regional and global significance of nitrogen removal in lakes and reservoirs

5) Using macroinvertebrate community to diagnose water quality in streams draining a mixed-use watershed in north-central Ohio: Macroinvertebrates (insects) has been extensively used as a management tool for monitoring change in aquatic ecosystems. In this project, we will explore the use of freshwater macroinvertebrates as a tool for monitoring the health of streams in the Mohican River Watershed. To learn more about this project check out the following links:

*    Use of freshwater benthic macroinvertebrates as bioindicators

*    Aquatic invertebrates in riverine landscapes

*    Stream ecosystem health in rural mixed land-use watersheds

*    Effects of Local Land Use on Benthic Macroinvertebrates

*    Impact of agricultural land use on aquatic insect assemblages in river catchments

*    Development of rapid bioassessment approaches using benthic macroinvertebrates

6) Investigating the concentration of nutrients and trace elements in precipitation from north-central Ohio: About 200 million tons of air pollutants (including nitrogen compounds) are emitted every year in the US. These pollutants can be returned to the earth through the processes of wet and dry atmospheric deposition. Wet deposition removes gases and particles in the atmosphere and deposits them to the Earth’s surface by means of rain, sleet, snow, and fog. Once in the surface, these pollutants can affect the ecology and geochemistry of soil and water ecosystems. In this project, we will investigate the concentration of major and trace elements in wet precipitation in north-central Ohio, and what processes control their spatial and temporal distribution. To learn more about this project check out the following links:

*    National atmospheric deposition program

*    USGS atmospheric deposition program

*    Atmospheric deposition of nutrients

*    Atmospheric wet deposition of trace elements

*    Atmospheric deposition of major and trace elements

7) Modeling sources and sinks of nutrients in a watershed with multiple land uses: Ecologists and geoscientists have long been interested in understanding the suite of factors that influence the movement of materials from mountaintop to the ocean. Rivers and streams deliver significant amounts of terrestrially-derived organic and inorganic nutrients from land to the sea but the magnitude of these fluxes are poorly known. In this project, we will apply a mass balance model to identify sources and sinks of nutrients and calculate annual nutrient loads in the Mohican River watershed. In addition, we will use spatial statistics to identify land-use effects on these nutrient loads. To learn more about this project check out the following links:

*    Introduction: Influence of land use on stream chemistry

*    Influences of climate, hydrology, and land use on input and export of nitrogen in streams

*    Dynamic modeling of nitrogen losses in river networks

8) Modeling the effects of land use on stream water quality in North-Central Ohio: GIS modeling can be used to calculate contaminant loads or to monitor water quality changes within a water body such as streams and lakes, helping to identify and map critical areas of land use and to reveal trends that affect water quality. In this project, we will use GIS capabilities to understand how the physical characteristics of the landscape (such as relief, vegetation, soil, geology) and its land use (agriculture, forests, urbanization) can affect the water quality of local streams. GIS (computer mapping) applies spatial statistics to find trends in datasets that have a geographical (spatial) component. Activities in this project includes the construction of maps of physical characteristics and land use in the watershed, and the application of spatial statistics to evaluate the influence of these parameters on nutrient concentrations in Ohio streams. To learn more about this project check out the following links:

*    Introduction: Influence of land use on stream chemistry

*    Modeling the relationship between land use and surface water quality

9) Nutrient biocomplexity in the Ohio River watershed: This project will investigate the relationship between hydrology and nutrient dynamics in the Ohio River watershed. This watershed covers a drainage area of over 200,000 square miles, and includes parts of 11 states, including Ohio. The population of the Basin is over 25 million. The questions we want to answer are: (1) How historical changes in land use have affected the hydrology of the Ohio River Basin? (2) How these changes have affected (are affecting) the water quality and water availability within the basin? (3) How will the watershed respond to climate extremes (in humidity and temperature) resulting from global warming? (4) What will the impacts be for agricultural, industrial and urban activities? (5) What preventative and adaptive measures can be put in place to mitigate such impacts? To learn more about this project check out the following links:

*    Introduction: Nutrient biocomplexity in the Ohio River watershed

*    NSF: Biocomplexity in the Environment

*    Connectivity and biocomplexity in waterbodies of riverine floodplains

*    Fingerprints of biocomplexity: Growth of phytoplankton in relation to environmental factors

 

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