Muddy Waters

Conditions in Southern Minnesota streams have deteriorated, and UMN senior Katie Kemmitt hopes to find out why.

by Kelsey Dahlgren

“The purpose of my work is to study nutrient cycling and concentrations in streams in Southern Minnesota,” says Kemmitt, a biology major working with Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior professor Jacques Finlay. Her goal is to identify the reasons for the deterioration, which leaves some streams smelly, turbid, and lacking biodiversity. Funded by a MnDRIVE undergraduate fellowship, she travels to streams throughout southern Minnesota to collect water and sediment samples. Back in the lab, she analyzes the samples for nutrients such as nitrate, phosphorous, and carbon. Kemmitt hopes that her data will help determine the cause of the stream deterioration and assist in the development of tools to restore damaged streams and prevent further deterioration. “Working on the Minnesota River Project has been the single most influential thing I’ve done as an undergrad,” said Kemmitt. “I learned what I want to do with my life. I definitely want to work in water management and water resources.” Citing her research project in Dr. Finlay’s lab as the major influence, Kemmitt will continue working in the lab through the summer and apply to graduate ecology programs this fall.