College of Science

ESTP Student Conducts Summer Research on Stream Habitats

Jess Turner, a third year undergraduate Environmental Science, Technology and Policy (ESTP) student, spent summer 2019 as a field scientist for the CSUMB Watershed Environments and Ecology (WEE) Lab. Jess and her field partner, Megan Rodenbeck, traveled the western region of the U.S. to identify hydrophytic plants and benthic macroinvertebrates.

“My favorite part about participating in summer research is all of the different experiences I was able to gain. In analyzing data, I was able to learn some new tricks in Excel and in R [statistical software], and the three weeks out in the field were a unique and fun experience,” says Jess.

Jess conducted surveys on how microhabitats can affect the presence of certain bryophyte families. Her observations included characterizing the streams as ephemeral (dry except for extreme conditions), intermittent (wet only part of the year), or perennial (wet all year round). She also observed macroinvertebrates like stream bugs, which were present in each category of river.

“The experience I gained over the summer will also help when applying to grad schools, which is the next step of my journey after I graduate!” says Jess. Her professional goals are to continue freshwater ecology research, and one day lead a research lab herself.

The WEE lab, led by ESTP Assistant Professor John Olson, specializes in freshwater ecology, water quality, and bioassessment. Core projects include “Predicting Specific Conductivity in Streams and Rivers” and “Developing assessment tools for dry streams”. The WEE lab also boasts numerous poster presentations and paper publications detailing the lab projects.

“The work that Jess and the other students did will help us develop tools to ensure that streams that dry up at certain times are still protected. This is especially important in the West where most streams are either intermittent or ephemeral, and have not always received protection under the Clean Water Act.” - Dr. John Olson