Week 2 Highlights: Featuring Team STREAM’s Edward Lo and Jovanny Velez

By Edward Lo, Team STREAM

Last week, Team Stream and I focused on reading articles for a combined literature review, the final copy of which would go straight into the background of the team research paper. I reviewed papers concerning flow in aquatic vegetation, scour around fixed cylinders, and sediment deposition in sensitive fish habitat. Ideas were juggled around with Nick, Jeff, and Laura Maki, Team Stream’s graduate student mentor. Sometimes, we argued about different ideas, in particular the exact definition of “dimensional analysis.” I learned this concept in high school physics as conversion of one unit to another. However, Jeff explained it as a technique for researchers to ensure that all dependent variables agree with the expected relationship among them. In our broad research area of fluid mechanics, the Reynolds number was kept constant while all other variables in an experiment were checked for adherence to specified values. I was also glad to finally learn the definitions of other terms in the context of environmental engineering such as “empirical” and “shear velocity.” The mathematical nature of some papers was a particular challenge for me, which I was able to overcome with the help of Laura and my two colleagues on the team. Some graphs were also difficult to interpret, so someone would often step in without hesitation and clarify, for example, the ratio of scour time to final scour time (t/tf) and what that meant. At the end of the week, I was satisfied and appreciative of the opportunity to speak openly without feeling embarrassed about not knowing something as simple as an empirical equation.

On Tuesday, the three of us on Team Stream helped out Katie, another graduate student who was setting up a 3° slope along a 27-foot-long flume. To accomplish this, the gravel needed to be poured and compacted along the flume so that large aluminum sheets with sediments of a particular size glued onto one side could be laid down on the gravel. That same day, we also attended a mini course on how to use the machines in the shop of SAFL.

Aside from research and the program, I explored some more of the Twin Cities on that Tuesday evening as I rented another Nice Ride bicycle to reach some the shopping areas around the Walmart in St. Paul near University Avenue. This trip turned out to be a huge adventure, particularly when I encountered three malfunctioning docking stations for the bike. Of course, I had to run around several blocks to find the station that worked on Fairview Avenue! I am glad that the folding bike I purchased on Amazon.com finally arrived, which freed me from the time (and distance) limitations of the Nice Ride system (still a great program overall).

Team Stream working hard to pull out invasive plants and prepare the piezometers for research in the Outdoor Stream Lab at SAFL.

Team Stream helping prepare a 3° slope in one of SAFL’s flumes for Katie Meehan, soon-to-be graduate student at UMN.

By Jovanny Velez, Team STREAM

This past week at the Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory, we (G, Adam and I) got more familiar with the Outdoor Stream Lab. Most of our time was spent out in the OSL taking care of the invasive vegetation. By taking care, I mean that we had to pull out the plants from the ground and move them down stream. We got a better understanding on how to operate and take care of the outdoor stream. In the OSL, there is a sediment tank and water flow valve that we learned to operate. For example, when the Mississippi river was rising due to all the rain up north, we had to change the water source and make the stream flow 25 LPS (Liters per Seconds). G and I were also trained in on using the Total System. We practiced using it on our own a little bit by taking data points around the OSL. We realized that when someone explains something it appears easy but once you are on your own it becomes more challenging.  Working on your own is the best and most effective way to learn. When we were not pulling out the plants we were doing literature reviews about macro invertebrates, sediment transportation, and flow topography. At the beginning of the week, we all did research on all the topics and towards the end of the week we began to pick a topic. We would then meet with Jess as a group and discuss what we read and could also ask her any questions. The topic that I chose was sediment transport and began to do more independent research on it.

Overall, things went well last week in the lab. I was able to get myself into a daily routine and give myself goals for the day. Having these goals set in the morning allowed me to check myself throughout the day.  I have also enjoyed working with the other OSL interns and have bonded more over the past week. This is great because we will be working together a lot for the rest of the summer. I am not able to recall many things that did not go well last week. There were a lot of computer problems but they eventually got resolved. For this upcoming week I am excited to finally go out into the field to begin to collect data. I am also looking forward to finalizing what exactly I will be researching for the rest of the summer.

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About Diana Dalbotten

Diana Dalbotten is the Director of Diversity and Broader Impacts for the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics and the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota; and for the Geoscience Alliance, a national alliance for broadening participation of Native Americans in the Geosciences.

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