This is a summer research opportunity to 1) educate students on the interconnected nature of the watershed; 2) mentor them in research projects focused on the Maumee River and Lake Erie health from environmental, biological and social perspectives; and 3) encourage students to pursue careers in science. Due to the historic concern for the health of the Lake Erie watershed, the University of Toledo has developed key multidisciplinary research initiatives focused on the Maumee River and Lake Erie. Among the Great Lakes, Lake Erie is unique in that its water quality problems primarily result from specific anthropogenic factors of agricultural pollution and urbanization. Major problems facing communities are soil erosion, transport and deposition in the mouths of streams; introduction of invasive species; and contamination by heavy metals, pesticides and E. coli bacteria. The interdisciplinary approach will emphasize the watershed system for this contribution to the REU program with water quality issues transcending the geographic setting. Nationally, government agencies, industry and the public are at odds over how to improve water quality in the nation's streams and lakes. Students are paired with faculty and graduate students to undertake research projects that relate to the students' specific areas of interest. Projects are typically subsets of the faculty member's major research programs, and thus involve the undergraduate student in important (funded) projects that will likely be published in peer-reviewed journals. REU students gain a broad understanding of environmental issues through interaction with mentors and community and agency collaborators through joint efforts to remediate watersheds and gain career opportunities. Students learn techniques of sample collection and analysis (soil, water, and biological), state-of-the-art data analysis and oral and written scientific presentation techniques. This REU program will assist the nation in meeting the challenge of degraded urban waterways and recruiting trained environmental scientists. The group has the expertise and research facilities to specifically investigate these issues in Great Lakes watersheds.
REU Site: An integrated assessment of physical, ecological and socio-economic aspects of a watershed system