Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mission Complete: Division of Water Quality Sampling

Seasons Greetings Bloggers! With my first semester over and the holidays approaching quickly, I find myself finally gaining my "graduate-student" feet. Skills and knowledge have been gained ranging from organization to conducting field work to academic wisdom, all of which are ready to be applied to these upcoming three semesters. That being said, I recently got back with Audrey from sampling four wells in Union County, NC that belong to the Morgan Mill Division of Water Quality (DWQ) research station. Since Matt is in Bangladesh, it was up to me to make sure we had everything ready with the expert help of Audrey to keep me in check. It was a good way to get me thinking about what exactly it was we wanted to sample and how to go about doing and preparing for it.
The sampling was primarily for the sake of the DWQ researchers, Joju Abraham and Andrew Pitner, however they were generous enough to let us learn from them and collect our own samples from their site. Due to illness, Audrey was confined to the hotel room, leaving me in charge of sampling that day (Watch out!). The technique for sampling was pretty much the same as in Cambodia, so I had the experience of what to do, which made everything go smoothly. I enjoyed watching how the research station sampled their well water and was intrigued to learn that they collected for similar types of samples, such as metals, nutrients and organic carbon (though they looked for total and we look for dissolved). Their protocol in how to collect was also similar to ours, however their equipment was just much larger! Larger pumps, larger bottles, larger tubing, etc.
The conversations we had were quite enlightening. Both Joju and Andrew were genuinely interested in what we did as a lab and shared summaries of their own work. It was nice knowing that they were interested in seeing the data we would obtain from our own research later down the road and even from what we collected at their station. It reminds me that I am no longer just a student but also a fellow co-worker, which makes me even more eager for the research that is to come!
With great weather and company, the day of sampling was a wonderful experience and left me ready to sample some more! Thanks to Joju and Andrew for teaching me about North Carolina's geological and hydrogeological environment, for showing me their sampling techniques at DWQ, and overall great company!