Engaging in undergraduate research has helped me learn beyond the classroom and discover my passions and interests.
Summer Student Fellow, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
I worked in the Physical Oceanography Department under the direction of Alison Macdonald and Irina Rypina. My project was a drifter-based analysis of the spread of surface contamination. Using a hypothetical accident at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station near Plymouth, Massachusetts as a test location, I was able to provide an estimate of the leading edge of the spread of surface contamination on different spatial and time scales. The project employs a method developed for estimating the spread of radionuclides after the Fukushima nuclear disaster but was modified to make even better use of the available drifter data and to be implemented for the study of any surface contamination at any site given the availability of drifter data.
Through this project, I strengthened my interest in utilizing scientific computing to study problems in physical oceanography. I received invaluable exposure to different areas and approaches to research in physical oceanography at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution not only through my project but also via numerous opportunities that the Summer Student Fellowship provided including lectures and department seminars, interaction with scientists and graduate students, a sampling cruise on a research vessel, and a final presentation to the physical oceanography department. Understanding the importance of not only conducting but also communicating research findings, I have pursued multiple opportunities to present my research from Woods Hole at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in December 2015 and the Ocean Sciences Meeting in February 2016.
LSU Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences
I worked for Dr. Dubravko Justić performing research for OCS 3999, which culminated in a successful undergraduate thesis defense for the Louisiana State University Ogden Honors College. My research assessed the impacts of nutrient load reduction scenarios on the extent and severity of hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The effects of reductions in riverine nutrient load were assessed through computer simulations in conjunction with different climate scenarios to better understand probable future conditions on the Louisiana continental shelf.
This introductory exposure to the modeling of oceanographic conditions was especially useful for understanding the uses for numerical modeling in coastal oceanography as well as understanding the interactions between the physics of ocean circulation and the biological processes in the ocean. In addition, the use of scientific computing and numerical modeling in oceanography is of great personal interest and provided me with a strong research background that will in turn help me meet my future research goals.
A PDF of the poster I presented at LSU Discover Day can be found here.
LSU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
I previously worked in an algae and water quality research lab under Dr. Maria Teresa Gutierrez-Wing. Much of my work went to maintaining the lab such as making nutrient solutions, providing adequate light, and creating appropriate growth media for both freshwater and saltwater algal cultures. Additionally, I aided in growing and maintaining a colony of brine shrimp (Artemia sp.) for use in water quality and toxicological testing. This exposure to research in algae and water quality helped inspire my honors thesis research.