Working with the other disciplines has allowed me to see an important theme: we are better together. The scientific data is important in better understanding the problem and best solutions, but considering the social side of the problem is equally important. If people aren’t willing to make changes, then the science only leads to more knowledge. In reverse, if people are willing to make a change or use a solution, without scientific research, their efforts will go to waste, as they try to fix something they don’t understand. Thus, both the science and social sides of things are essential. They go hand-in-hand.
I recently had the chance to join the biologists to see how they collect data. I had a great time being out on the lake that we talk so much about, and they even let me drive the boat!
Nicole and Lanna take water samples using an integrated sampler. It looks like a big PVC pipe with a filter-looking thing at the bottom. They put the integrated sampler in the water, rinse that and the buckets out, and then pour some of it into a dark container (so the sunlight doesn’t tamper with it). Then they use a syringe with a filter to put some of it into a smaller bottle and place all the samples into a cooler. They take these samples back to the lab and analyze the total phosphorus (TP), soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP), and chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is how they measure the algae growth.
They also showed me how to use the secchi disk, which measures turbidity:
You put the disk, which is attached to a chain, into the water and record the point where you can no longer see it. Then take note of where it reappears. This is to measure how clear the water is.
They go around to 5 different places on the lake to get a variety of samples before taking it back to the lab. Their process of data collection is a lot different from my own, but both take patience. Interdisciplinary work has helped me to better understand the issue and look at my own project differently. I have an appreciation for the other disciplines and recognize that for many issues society faces, having an interdisciplinary mindset is best, as it allows for further comprehension of the issue, communication, and better critical thinking skills.