What degree/track are you pursuing?
I am a Ph.D. student in Environmental Science & Engineering in the Estuary & Ocean Systems track. I am a graduate student affiliated with the Center for Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction (CMOP) program, an NSF Science & Technology Center.
Who is (are) your advisors?
What is the focus of your research?
My research is focused on investigating the role aquatic microbes in the Columbia River estuary play in biogeochemical cycling and as bioindicators of environmental health. I am currently working on identifying and describing the presence of an important bacterium to wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) in the environment (estuary). Phosphate accumulating organisms (PAOs) over accumulate phosphorus and are utilized for their ability to remove excess phosphorus in wastewater treatment. PAOs in turn may play an important role in the estuary in cycling of phosphorus.
How will your research benefit society?
Human health is directly linked to the health of the environment that people live in and utilize for resources and recreation. My research has implications for emphasizing the importance of microbes in support of the food web and many of the seafood resources that we depend upon. Aquatic microbes also serve as bioindicators for environmental health and describing their role in the environment is important to recognizing what changes might occur due to increased human impact.
How have you taken advantage of professional development opportunities through OHSU and the Institute of Environmental Health?
The opportunities to develop as a professional are plentiful through IEH and OHSU. The problem I often have is deciding which ones to choose from. As a graduate student I have been able to participate in K-12 outreach, work with undergraduate interns as well as network with other graduate students and staff and faculty. I am a member of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans (SACNAS) and attend their national conference each year to network and talk to students about IEH and OHSU.
What do you plan to do with your degree?
I am keeping my options open upon completion of my degree. I have spent time as a middle and high school science teacher and so I know that I will spend part of my time teaching in the future. I am keeping my options open to exploring academia, industry, and/or government careers for the future.