By LAURA BRIGGER
ADA – Four East Central University professors will lead science-based water projects as part of the Oka’ Institute’s summer research program.
Leading undergraduates through the Summer Research Opportunity (SRO) projects are Kevin Blackwood, Dr. Jessica Brumley, Dr. Leah Dudley and Dr. Christine Pappas. SRO is a program that encourages water-related research at ECU. This year’s projects will support good watershed management, address a growing concern in agriculture, study the importance of native pollinators on crop yield, and examine travertine as a possible water quality indicator.
“We are proud of this program that gives ECU professors and students the opportunity to conduct vital research,” said Susan Paddack, executive director of the Oka’ Institute. “The projects selected will collect data that is instrumental to our goal of protecting our water resources.”
Blackwood’s project is “Using Travertine to Assess Past and Present Records of Water Quality from Spring-Fed Streams in the Arbuckle Mountains.” The project’s intent is to geochemically analyze individual layers of travertine to determine water quality.
Brumley’s project is “Comparing Differently Managed Soils for Water Infiltration and Quality Changes.” During the project, experiments will be performed on differently managed core samples to identify infiltration and nutrient retention characteristics.
Dudley’s project is “Watered Down” and will investigate the impact that native insects have on the crop yield of corn, beans and squash. This is funded by a Sciences and Natural Resources Foundation designated grant.
Pappas’s research project is “Evaluating Uses for Crushed Glass Collected from a Community Recycling Campaign” and will promote watershed management by exploring the potential uses of crushed glass in construction and artistic applications. A community-wide glass bottle crushing campaign will be developed and implemented to keep glass bottles from going into the landfill and potentially reduce the need for sand mining.
Each project requires the professor to select one to two undergraduates to help with research. As a part of the final report, student researchers will prepare summaries of their work and what they learned through conducting the research. Interim project reports will be submitted on July 2, 2021, with final reports to be completed by Nov. 3, 2021.
Oka’ The Water Institute at East Central University is in its fifth year of creating practical water solutions which result in long-term and sustainable ecological management and economic development.
Cutline: The four professors leading summer research projects for Oka’ The Water Institute are (clockwise from top left) Dr. Christine Pappas, Dr. Leah Dudley, Dr. Jessica Brumley and Kevin Blackwood. (Oka' The Water Institute/Laura Brigger)