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Diving into freshwater science

  • Ariel Franitza ’19
August 08, 2018

Hi, my name is Ariel. I’m a biology major from Milwaukee. I will be a senior this upcoming fall. This summer, I’m working as a lab assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, School of Freshwater Sciences. After discussing my interests and what my primary investigator (the head of my lab/employer) needed, he assigned me to primarily work with one of his master’s students on her project. Her project involves observing the nutrient and microbial differences between three groundwater wells in Waukesha, Wisconsin. A majority of the source water for these wells comes from groundwater, but, due to the location, two of the three wells have been accumulating water from the nearby Fox River, as well as the groundwater. This change in source water could mean changes in nutrient proportions and thus changes in the microbial communities.

The School of Freshwater Sciences is a graduate school focused on studying freshwater and covers a wide variety of specialties. Within the microbiology lab I’m working in, we have multiple projects spanning a variety of topics including but not limited to the following:

  • the microbial contents of Lake Michigan fish guts
  • the urban water cycle (which involves the standard evaporation, condensation and precipitation, but also the impact of infiltration, runoff, wastewater systems and other human involvement)
  • the connection of antibiotic immunity (and the evolution of “superbugs”) and sewage systems
  • the refinement of aquaculture and biofilters used in these plant-fish cultivation systems
  • differences between the microbial communities of the Great Lakes

Working in such a diverse lab is enjoyable since it allows me to learn about all these different topics and not get stuck focusing just on my tasks. It also allows me to experience the differences between graduate and undergraduate schools.

Writer

Ariel Franitza ’19