LONG-TERM MONITORING OF WATER RESOURCES WITH UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT COLLABORATORS
By definition, undergraduate students engaged in long-term water resources monitoring are exposed to the formulation of objectives and the related justifications of timely and relevant environmental research. Further, the students directly apply the concepts learned in the classroom and gain experience examining high resolution data that respond to both natural and anthropogenic stresses, display seasonal and longer variability and trends, and are easily combined with correlative data to be displayed graphically for visual examination. Long-term data also require quality assurance evaluation, statistical interpretation, and archiving. And importantly, these students will use and gain experience with state-of-the-art technology, instrumentation, modeling, and testing methods that prepare them well for the workforce and further study. Finally, students have the opportunity to prepare and submit research proposals for funding through grant programs targeted to undergraduate investigators.
Undergraduate students at the University of Southern Indiana have been successful collaborators and grantees on long-term hydrogeological monitoring research for many years. Research projects include a Pennsylvanian sandstone aquifer that responds to several stressors including barometric change, Earth tides, and reduced groundwater extraction. Students also monitor water resources in Manistee National Forest, Michigan, in support of resource management and protection efforts. Research targets include assessing the potential threat of commercial groundwater extraction to aquatic resources of the forest and quantifying hydrologic change as a result of savannah ecosystem restoration on forest land.