STEM research assistant details his field research in Mussel populations and water quality in Kentucky
Earlier this month, I was asked by mentor Dr. Buddhi Raj Gyawali, assistant professor in the College of Agriculture Food Science and Sustainable Systems, if I could participate in a field work trip to take water samples at 10 sites on the Nolin River with graduate research assistant Lesley Sneed, and her mentor, Dr. Wendell Haag of the United States Forestry Service Research Division.
Sneed and Dr. Haag’s research will determine probable causes of declining native mussel populations in several watershed streams in Kentucky. Dr. Haag implemented some new tests for diatoms and bacteria, in addition to the tests for nutrients, metals and alkalinity. He also wanted to instruct Lesley on the proper sampling methods for these new additional tests.
Dr. Haag has studied the native watershed mussels in filtering stream waters to maintain good water quality. I was honored to be a part of this team effort research project to investigate possible causes and solutions to declining populations of native mussel species in many Kentucky streams.
I received another opportunity to obtain field research experience on the KSU River Thorobred. As advised by Dr. Gyawali, while spending time doing e-research and literature review in preparation for completion of a project related to protecting watershed water quality, it is refreshing and informative to have been invited by Ed Wilcox, KSU’s coordinator of the KSU Thorobred Research and Education excursion vessel, to go on one of the education cruises that he schedules for individuals, groups, and organizations as part of his education outreach duties aboard the KSU River Thorobred vessel.
We took 21 children, grades K through 8, and their chaperones on the Kentucky River. Ed is developing curriculums to educate and enlighten groups of different ages on the importance of protecting our watersheds from degradation and pollution. During the trip, he engaged the future water stewards to comment on what they observed along the way as he taught them how the flora and fauna evident were indicators of a water sources health and safety and how anthropogenic infrastructure could adversely affect natural systems.
On the return trip, he walked them through an exercise of taking a water sample and chemically testing it for variables such as temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen and explaining the significance of each as it relates to the quality and health of the river aquatic ecosystem.
— Thomas Trivette – KSU STEM Research Assistant
Mr. Thomas Trivette is an undergraduate STEM-Research Assistant in the College of Agriculture Food Science and Sustainable Systems. His research project is supported by “National Science Foundation (NSF)-HBCU-UP Grant- Promoting STEM and geospatial Programs at Kentucky State University” directed by Dr. Buddhi Raj Gyawali, Assistant professor in the College of Agriculture Food Science and Sustainable Systems.