Sunday, July 16, 2017

Academia is at its strongest when we all work together

Thirteen students from eleven different states studying in programs ranging from economics to environmental studies to anthropology to sociology came together this summer in perfect harmony. There is much beauty in the interwoven nature of the LAKES project. Since day one in Menomonie, our group focus was to interdisciplinarily study one common problem using six different approaches. Each group was equipped with an expert in his/her field who would guide their team in developing a research question to tackle phosphorus loading into the Red Cedar Watershed.

When a biologist is faced with a problem it is to be expected that the way he/she handles it will be much different than that of an economist. It is that very reason why interdisciplinary research is so vital. A scientist could find the magic key to solving the algal blooms here in Menomonie, but without the costs of this plan calculated nor the community’s support, the solution may never be implemented.

The biology team’s project this year revolves around the idea of recycling phosphorus from a phosphorus loaded system and posing it as a land-amendment rather than synthetic fertilizer application. In order for this idea to work, one must understand the whole story of the watershed, which is where the geography team comes in. This summer they are assessing stream health by testing numerous sites along Wilson Creek. Each site they measure water quality data as well as macroinvertebrate sampling coupled with the land use and buffers in the relative area. By collecting this data, they will be able to map the entire stream and directly relate the land use to stream health.

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