Water Quality Research Connects Gustavus Team and Local Community  Posted on December 8th, 2020 by

A desire to work on an environmental project that had a direct connection to the community inspired D. Melanie Kistnasamy ‘22 to join a research team monitoring the water quality of the Seven Mile Creek Watershed. This project piqued Kitnasamy’s interest because it included research and communicating findings to the public. She reflected, “I always knew I wanted to go into environmental studies, but I didn’t know where I wanted to focus. With this research I’m more interested in hydrology or further research.”


Monitoring the streams has led to many connections within the community and people who visit the streams. In a community with an agricultural economy, it is important for Gustavus to make connections with local farmers and park visitors. 


The water quality research is a part of a larger project advised by Laura Triplett, Associate Professor in Geology and Environmental Studies. Triplett has been monitoring the streams for about five years, three of those years her work has been funded by an external four year grant. Once the grant is finished, two local groups will continue to monitor the streams. The results of this year differed from past years with large storms and increased precipitation. Due to our changing climate, Triplett expects to see these large storms more frequently.


The research team includes Professor Julie Bartley (Geology), staff technician Kelly Miller (Geology), and students Kai Welsh (Geology), and Cameron Gaspord (Geology).


In Triplett’s research, she prioritizes meaningful student involvement. She reflected on her experience supervising Kistnasamy saying, “She is a true partner and intellectually at the top of the game. She also has a beautiful balance of confidence and initiative, but then also being ready to ask a question when needed. That’s how the best science happens, when you have a collection of things together and Melanie is exactly that.”  


Kistnasamy encourages all students to take part in research, “Environmental Studies and Geology students should apply for this research, it is really a great experience for interpersonal communication skills… it is also a great research work experience in a professional realm,” said Kistnasamy.  Kistnasamy presented her research early in the summer and shared a poster at the 2020 Fall Research Symposium


This project is funded by a four year grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency, by the Federal Clean Water Act. 




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