Reane Loiselle of Dousman, Wisconsin, was first introduced to Northland College during a backpacking trip in the Porcupine Mountains in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan her sophomore year of high school.
She had been traveling with her family to the north woods already so to find a college in that setting was appealing. She was also drawn to the majors and opportunities specifically at Northland, specifically water science and freshwater research. Northland is located on Lake Superior, the largest body of freshwater in the world.
Now entering her junior year, she’s majoring in natural resources and water science and has been hired as a research technician by the Mary Griggs Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation to collect data on Fish Creek, a tributary responsible for massive amounts of sediment flowing into Lake Superior.
For the last several years, Burke Center water scientists have been monitoring and working on projects to slow the flow of stormwater running off the landscape, as well as reduce the amount of sediment washing into Lake Superior.
The Burke Center focuses on scientific research, communication, and thought leadership on water issues in the Great Lakes region—with an emphasis training students. They currently employ sixteen student researchers including Loiselle.
Loiselle and the small crew she works with, take discharge measurements and water level measurements, downloading pressure loggers and compensators and uploading the data.
“What this allows us to do is develop a way of estimating discharge for every fifteen-minute interval for every stream or tributary in the area we are currently monitoring,” she said. “That’s a pretty cool feeling.”
“Getting this kind of hands-on research experience is typically not something that many undergraduates get to experience, and I think having this kind of experience in the field that I’m interested in is almost as important as what I am majoring in,” she said. “Northland is also the only college where I can study water science and natural resources in such a research-based environment.”
Loiselle says she loves working in the rivers with the buzzing of dragonflies and damselflies or on Lake Superior surrounded by water as still as glass (some days). “If I’m honest though, some of the most satisfying moments are really when you finally see what all the data collection is creating,” she said. “For streams crew, that means rating curves.”