Participating in fieldwork is the high-water mark of summer.
Environmental science students had an opportunity to study water at the source last summer, as they accompanied Professor Sam Sandoval Solis to collect data on California rivers and streams.
Belize Lane, a graduate student in hydrology, is working with Sandoval on research to characterize various “reaches” of California rivers and their impact on the local ecology. As a former river guide, Lane was inspired to study hydrology by the ecological degradation she observed along waterways. “I was interested in learning about the science behind the problem — and fixing the problem,” she said.
By measuring water depth, channel width, and other landscape features, the research team learns more about the health of the local ecosystem. The data they collect will be compiled in a web-based map that characterizes natural streamflow and sediments in rivers. This study will enable state water professionals to make more informed decisions about environmental water management.
Sandoval recruited help for the project from the undergraduates enrolled in his water science and management class, ESM 121. His top student, Dennise Alatorre, interned for Sandoval over the summer and organized multiple expeditions to collect information on waterways. She also trained undergraduates and other research recruits to use a handheld GPS and navigation equipment needed to gather data.
A first-generation college student from Bakersfield, Alatorre said, “This work has given me a different perspective on water. Every drop counts.”