This past May, our own Katie Seguin graduated and wrapped up her senior thesis work in the midst of the COVID-19 quarantine. Although her lab plans were cut short due to the shutdown, Katie took it in stride and adjusted her thesis to focus on iron and microscale redox conditions in biological soil crusts. (She had originally been planning on, and had already started doing, experiments to look at phosphorus species too, as well as incorporating bulk geochemical data.) Luckily, her original plans were enough work for three senior theses, so even after “cutting back,” Katie produced some great original work. She found that despite the soil crusts’ ability to retain water (a critical capability in the desert!), they dry out very quickly and record an overall oxidizing environment. Her work has implications for the ongoing search for early life on land, which relies in part on finding chemical “fingerprints” in fossilized soils.
Katie is still figuring out what she wants to do long-term, but this summer, she’s out in Tacoma, Washington for her USGS/NAGT summer field training internship program! She was nominated for her outstanding work and attitude at field camp last summer (attributes anyone who has worked with Katie can attest to). At the USGS WA Water Science branch, she’s investigating the effects of regional temperature changes on fish populations in rivers, focusing on the Snoqualmie River and fish populations of species that do fresh/saltwater migration (“anadromous” species) such as salmon. The migrating fish need a certain number of cool-water days per year to survive, so climate change is threatening their populations. Katie is assisting with water temperature monitoring, and her work will ultimately help inform models for optimal river restoration efforts and fishing rights. Her work with the USGS has implications for Indigenous populations in the northwest whose livelihoods rely on fishing rights, and to quote Katie, “A fishing right with no fish doesn’t mean much.”
Katie and her team got some press coverage for their work around the Pilchuk Dam, which is slated for removal from the Pilchuk river after 108 years of blocking critical salmon migratory paths. We can’t wait to see what Katie gets done this summer, and where she goes next!
August update: Katie’s position in Washington has been extended for a year! Congrats!