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Students present Chadron Creek research at science conference

April 22, 2017

Students in the Science Skills and Success Learning Community measure the physical characteristics of the Chadron Creek stream bed. (Jeremy Weremeichick photo) Students in the Science Skills and Success Learning Community measure the physical characteristics of the Chadron Creek stream bed. (Jeremy Weremeichick photo)
Students in the Science Skills and Success Learning Community measure the physical characteristics of the Chadron Creek stream bed. (Jeremy Weremeichick photo) Students in the Science Skills and Success Learning Community measure the physical characteristics of the Chadron Creek stream bed. (Jeremy Weremeichick photo)

CHADRON – Conducting scientific field research might include some discomfort, such as wading in an icy stream on a cold day, but it can also bring rewards in learning and add to scientific knowledge of the world around us.

That’s according to three members of the Science Skills and Success Learning Community (SSSLC) at Chadron State College who participated in research on Chadron Creek last fall. They will present their findings at the Nebraska Academy of Sciences (NAS) annual meeting at Nebraska Wesleyan University on Friday.

The students’ scientific paper, an analysis of Chadron Creek water quality by Katie Odvody, Gabrielle Brumfield and Issac Langan, is one of 10 research works by Chadron State students and faculty members to be presented at the 127th annual spring meeting of the NAS. Other research topics CSC students will be presenting include a comparison of parasite strains in domestic and wild dogs, a study of pre-diabetes care in Dawes County and research on the formation of dust devils on Mars.

The SSSLC is a group of freshmen science students, upper class mentors and CSC

science faculty members. It was created last fall to support science students in their early years of college. As part of a program that includes group learning activities, 22 members participated in an interdisciplinary research project about water in Chadron Creek in late October. The project included aspects of chemistry, biology, geoscience and health science and is the continuation of a study of the Chadron Creek watershed that began following the Spotted Tail fire in 2006, said CSC geoscience professor Dr. Mike Leite.

This year’s research took the SSSLC members to several spots on the creek, where they measured the stream bed shape and collected water samples for analysis.

“It was about 30 degrees that day. They were wading in bare feet in the mud,” Leite said. “It was pretty miserable.”

Spending five hours outside in the cold was the worst part of the project, according to Brumfield, a human biology major from Pendleton, Indiana, and Odvody, who is from Crete and also studying human biology. But Langan, a pre-dentistry student from McCook, said he didn’t mind the cold.

“I really enjoyed collecting the data,” Langan said. “I ended up spending the day barefoot in the creek in the cold and rain. I thought it was a blast.”

Leite said the students’ work measuring the stream bed and collecting water samples provided a direct introduction to the process of scientific research. And comparing the information gathered to previous data allowed the students to draw conclusions about how the creek has changed over time.

“We had records from seven or eight years ago. We were able to compare those,” Leite said. “The stream changed quite a bit.”

For Brumfield, the project brought a deeper understanding of geology, a subject she previously knew little about.

“I didn’t realize how many different ways there were to examine water sources. I definitely learned a lot,” she said. “I knew there were wildfires in Chadron a few years ago, but I definitely never thought about the impact those fires might have on water sources.”

Testing the quality of Chadron Creek water was rewarding for Odvody.

“I love the ability it gives me to give knowledge to the community about our water,” she said.

Langan said the project opened his eyes to the expanse of topics a person can research and to proper research methods.

“This project will be my first published work and I hope to have many more,” he said.

Although it was cold when the students were doing the field research, the work was interesting enough to get them excited about science, according to Leite.

“They were in the stream and eagerly collecting data,” he said.

Presenting the research paper at a scientific conference adds another dimension to the students’ experience, said Leite. Talking to experienced scientists about your research, and responding to their questions, can be intimidating, but is good for building confidence, he said.

“They learn that people will listen to what you have to say,” Leite said. “When people ask questions, it makes you the expert.”

While the conclusions of the students’ research may not seem earth shattering, the work is important because it adds to the body of knowledge about Chadron Creek, which hasn’t been the subject of much scientific study, said Leite.

“The best part is being able to contribute to the scientific community,” Brumfield said.

NAS papers list

AMPICILLIN RESISTANT ESCHERICHIA COLI IN CANINE FECAL MATTER. Katie C. Odvody, Kamra Fox, Megan Mclean, Brianna Butler, and Ann Buchmann, Department of Physical and Life Sciences, Chadron State College, Chadron.

ANALYSIS OF PARASITE STRAINS IN DOMESTIC VS FERAL DOGS. Charmayne Strong and Ann Buchmann, Department of Physical and Life Sciences, Chadron State College, Chadron; and Terry Beguin-Strong, Beguin Veterinary Clinic, Rushville.

ANALYSIS OF WATER QUALITY FROM CHADRON CREEK, DAWES COUNTY, NEBRASKA. Gabrielle L. Brumfield, Isaac A. Langan, Katie C. Odvody, Jennifer L. Balmat, Michael B. Leite, and Jeremy M. Weremeichik, Department of Physical and Life Sciences, Chadron State College, Chadron.

A CLIENT BASED MODEL OF PREDIABETES CARE IN DAWES COUNTY, NEBRASKA. Erica Ragatz and Ann Buchmann, Department of Physical and Life Sciences, Chadron State College, Chadron.

FINITE ELEMENT MODELING OF MARTIAN ROCK STRAINS DURING CORE AND ABRASIVE DRILLING. Dylan McCoy, Department of Mathematics, Chadron State College, Chadron.

INFERRED PALEOCLIMATES FROM COSMOGENIC NUCLIDE EXPOSURE DATING AND EQUILIBRIUM LINE ALTITUDE RECONSTRUCTIONS, WIND RIVER RANGE, WYOMING. Adam D. Neumann and Michael B. Leite, Department of Physical and Life Sciences, Chadron State College, Chadron; and Lee B. Corbett and Paul R. Bierman, Department of Geology and Rubenstein School of the Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont, Burlington.

LIGHTS! ENERGY! NOISE! PHYSICAL SCIENCE FOR YOUNG MINDS. Jamie Damon, Casey England, and Aimee Glandt, Department of Education, Chadron State College, Chadron.

SIR2 INFLUENCES TO PHYSIOLOGICAL DNA BREAKS IN THE ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE ON THE DROSOPHILA MELANOGASTER MODEL. Shoichi Arai and Ann Buchmann, Department of Physical and Life Science, Chadron State College, Chadron.

THE SOUND OF SILENCE. Aimee Glandt, Casey England, and Jamie Damon, Chadron State College, Chadron.

TERRESTRIAL THERMAL VORTICES AS AN ANALOG FOR MARS. Nathan G. Pindell  and Michael B. Leite , Department of Physical and Life Sciences, Chadron State College, Chadron; and Stephen M. Metzger, Metzger Geoscience Consulting, Reno, Nev.

—George Ledbetter

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