In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly designated March 22 as World Water Day, a day of international observance and opportunity to learn more about water related issues, be inspired to tell others, and take action to make a difference. Each year a theme is chosen; the 2018 theme is ‘”nature for water”—exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.
Northland College, located near the shore of Lake Superior, works on freshwater research, policy, and communication year round. We’ve created a unique student research track to send students out into the world better prepared to take action and make a difference when it comes to water quality and scarcity.
Student researchers at the Burke Center are involved in a range of field and laboratory projects related to the assessment and management of natural resources throughout the north woods. Fieldwork often includes:
- collection of water quality samples from streams, lakes, and wetlands;
- assessment of aquatic plant communities;
- assessment and restoration of physical habitat in streams, rivers and lakes and their associated watersheds;
- data analysis, modeling, and reporting.
Laboratory work focuses on the analysis of water quality, sediment, and soil samples in the Applied Research and Environmental Laboratory (ARELab) and often includes:
- sample receiving and chain of custody management;
- sample filtration and processing;
- implementation of Standard Operating Procedures to test for a range of environmental parameters;
- instrumental analysis;
- data analysis and reporting.
Opportunities to engage the public in natural resource issues will also occur as part of field and laboratory projects. Generally, students specialize in one of the Burke Center program areas, but all students are trained across field and laboratory disciplines. Depending on experience, student researchers are hired at three different levels.
STUDENT RESEARCH POSITIONS
Research technicians work with research assistants, research associates and Burke Center staff to implement laboratory and field protocols and develop environmental management plans and reports to support Burke Center programs. Typical work includes, but is not limited to: collection, analysis, and presentation of field data; and processing of environmental samples.
Minimum qualifications include one year of relevant coursework from an accredited institution; interest in field and laboratory; ability follows standard operating procedures.
Research assistants collaborate with Burke Center staff to coordinate and implement the range of Burke Center programs. Typical work includes, but is not limited to: project planning; collection, analysis, and presentation of field data; processing and analysis of environmental samples; and training and mentoring of research technicians.
Minimum qualifications include two years of relevant coursework from an accredited institution; one year of previous experience implementing relevant field or laboratory research protocols; ability follow standard operating procedures; ability to train and mentor research technicians.
Research associates collaborate with the Burke Center staff to design and implement self-directed, applied research projects that support Burke Center programs and the ongoing management of natural resources throughout the north woods. Typical work includes, but is not limited to: experimental and study design; collection, analysis, and presentation of field data; processing and analysis of environmental samples; and training and mentoring of research technicians and assistants.
Minimum qualifications are two years of relevant coursework from an accredited institution; two years of previous experience implementing relevant field or laboratory research protocols; one year of experience training and mentoring research technicians and/or assistants, ability to critically analyze and communicate scientific data; ability to work independently and with minimal supervision.