Before engaging in this research experience, I had little understanding of the physics, chemistry, and overall ecology of fresh water and inland systems such as streams and lakes. I had no idea what limnology was or how it related to my personal life. I also had limited understanding of the standard field and lab methods involved in measuring and quantifying the physical parameters of steams and lakes.
It was challenging learning how to run filtration, extraction, and analysis for the organic and inorganic forms of phosphorous and chlorophyll a. I briefly studied the phosphorus cycle in my general biology and ecology courses at Front Range Community College, but I now have a more refined understanding of phosphorus with only a month of extensive research and experience. I’ve learned about its presence in pelagic waters and sediment. In addition, I’ve learned about the uptake of phosphorus and induction of phosphatases, how it’s recycled, the role of rooted macrophytes and algal decomposition, and sources of phosphorus.
I am starting to see the larger picture in terms of how the scientific process works. Doing the fieldwork, lab work, and statistical treatment is providing new insight into my future research endeavors. I am thoroughly enjoying this work and I will continue to pursue research opportunities through my Ecosystem Science and Sustainability undergrad degree at CSU.