A Summer of Study & Research - Part III
Nate EnnisPhD in Microbiology within the Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences (MCBS) Department
My research project involves studying bacteria that live and grow on the surfaces of stone materials, particularly ancient or aging stone buildings. Very little is known about these bacteria, except that they are very strong against many environmental stressors (including desiccation and radiation!) and that they may be causing the gradual deterioration of the stones they inhabit, which can be a concern for preserving ancient stone ruins. My goal is to profile these microbial communities living on stones of various types and locations around the world and eventually determine if they actually do contribute to the stone degradation process (are they 'rock-eaters?').
Receiving the STAF has been incredibly helpful for my research this summer. It has helped fund me to conduct my lab work and even do some fieldwork to retrieve stone samples. I recently traveled to Holderness, NH and collected stone samples from the abandoned colonial mill town of Livermore Hollow, with the help from the NH Division of Historical Resources. After collecting samples, I will extract bacterial DNA from the stones in lab and sequence the material to determine what kinds of bacteria are living on these stones. Previously, I have received samples from ancient Tunisian and Indian stone ruins and I'm looking forward to comparing the bacteria of the three different locations! Going forward, I'm planning to collect more stone samples from the New England area, including some colonial and native sites in Connecticut. My plan is to collect stones from a wide range of locations in an attempt to develop a global profile for these 'stone-dwelling' bacterial communities. I've been greatly enjoying my work so far, and I couldn't have done this without the STAF. I'm grateful for the Graduate School's support.
Lauren ShortPhD in English Composition
The research I've been doing this summer is looking through the archives at Radcliffe for personal documents from former students at Radcliffe in its early years. My intention is to find what mention of their English Composition courses these young women include in letters to family and in journals. I have found mention of a few prominent Harvard professors in the Radcliffe women's correspondences and as I go through further transcription of the handwritten journals, I hope to gain a greater understanding of how these women felt being taught by professors shared with the men at Harvard.
Kara KoetjeMasters of Science in Ocean Engineering
The Great Bay Estuary is showing signs of declining ecosystem health, as indicated by significant loss of eelgrass, increased growth of algae, and changing water chemistry (NHEP, 2013). These symptoms suggest that the ecosystem is responding to increasing nutrient inputs. There are many external sources of nutrients to the Great Bay, including wastewater treatment facilities, agricultural practices, and the historical presence of tanneries and mills. All of these sources can contribute nutrients, toxins, heavy metals, etc. to the bay that can be deposited and stored in the sediment. Nutrients and other compounds sequestered in sediments can be reintroduced to the water column through erosion and enhanced diffusion caused by hydrodynamic stress on the bed, which is an unaccounted for source of nutrients to the bay. In order to manage and protect the health of the Great Bay, we must better understand the mechanisms that drive mixing at the fluid-sediment interface.
The goal of my research is to transform our understanding of how and when nutrients are released from the sediments in coastal zones and estuaries due to hydrodynamic stress, sediment mobilization and resuspension. Through support from the Summer T.A. Fellowship, I was able to conduct several field deployments that supported my previous work, including one month-deployment and several daylong deployments. Continuous high-resolution velocity profile data was collected using a downward-looking acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP), which provides a detailed picture of the wave, current, and tidal dynamics at play. In addition, high-resolution measurements of turbidity, salinity, temperature, and pressure were made throughout the water column as well as multibeam sonar mapping of the study site. Thanks to support from STAF, I am currently working to incorporate these findings into my thesis as I complete my master’s degree.
—Compiled by Kristen Melamed
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