November 2018 Student Spotlight
Grand Valley State University (GVSU) student Ella Larson and faculty mentor Dr. Patrick Colgan (Geology) are studying Ottawa County springs and valleys along the Pigeon River to investigate their origins.
Ella has loved rocks since 2nd grade. She would collect them to a point that she googled, ‘What is a person who studies rocks?’ What she found led her to become a Geology major at GVSU.
In one of her geology classes at GVSU with Dr. Colgan, she wrote a paper about glaciers on how climate change will affect our freshwater supply; in which led to her fascination of studying water.
Ella is a student in the Honors College, and she saw an opportunity to do undergraduate research through the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS). She became a Student Summer Scholar, and chose Dr. Colgan to be her faculty mentor. She was excited to gain hands-on experience with someone experienced in the field of Geology.
“I looked forward to gaining experience with concepts, reading literature, and using tools and techniques that were once foreign to me,” Ella said.
Ella mentioned that all of these skills will look good in front of an employer, and for she applies to grad programs.
In May, Ella and Dr. Colgan went out to Pigeon River to measure the discharges of the springs, and the transport of sediments. Alongside Dr. Colgan, she wanted to know how the valleys formed.
“I have been collecting data for the past three months in order to give a basic picture on how the groundwater is leveled, and how the temperature was changing throughout the season,” Ella said.
Ella enjoyed her research because it was in a location where it was getting noticed.
“People would stop by and I would be able to talk about what I was doing and why it was important ... I would also get people to think about the environment around them,” Ella explained.
Although Ella enjoyed doing the fieldwork outside, she was challenged and ran into a few complications.
“The fieldwork was very hard because it was outside,” Ella said. “Probes would fall into wells that we would have to fish out… Sometimes the batteries would run out, and we would lose that data. But, no matter what the struggle was, we saw the data coming together. We are getting a really nice story of what is happening over there.”
Currently, Ella is evaluating all of the data and trying to publish a research paper. She believes her research is important because it is studying a topic that is not fully developed yet.
For more information, contact the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship at [email protected].
Written by Emma Sluiter, Advertising & Public Relations Major
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