NWIC Students Involved in Research

Aug 15th, 1998 | By | Category: 10-1: Teaching Math and Science, Tribal College News

Northwest Indian College (NWIC) in Bellingham, Wash., received an EPA Environmental Justice Grant to model fecal coliform transport from dairy farms on the Nooksack River to Portage Bay over the next three years. This study will document bacteria concentrations for a 30-mile reach of the lower Nooksack River. The study will also document tidal currents, the extent of the freshwater lens, and the effects of these contaminants on tribal shellfish.

In addition to its scientific value as a model of estuarine transport dynamics, the research will provide water quality monitoring. This will benefit the state and the county’s enforcement efforts aimed at protecting shellfish. The research will involve NWIC staff and students, along with local agencies, dairy farmers, and the Lummi Tribal Natural Resources Department. The students will learn field research and water quality laboratory methods. They will also learn about public outreach, presentation of environmental science data, and integration of water quality science with water quality politics. For more information contact Michael Cochrane, Biologist –NWIC, (360) 676-2772. Mcochrane@nwic.edu

In the past, research at NWIC has had an impact as far away as the North Slope of Alaska and outer space. NASA research done by NWIC faculty and science students used lettuce in a hydroponic system to look at the possible role of plants in wastewater treatment. The research focused on how lettuce reduced the amount of nitrates and at the optimal nitrogen levels for maximum plant growth. Many students were involved in building the hydroponic system, growing seedlings and plants, monitoring water quality, and analyzing data. They worked with Dr. David Bubenheim and his research group from Ames Research Center in California.

NWIC research supported the overall research of many university and NASA scientists, who are developing technology for plant growth/water treatment on space stations and moon/Mars bases. NASA Ames is also working with North Slope communities on wastewater treatment. Because of very cold temperatures in Alaska, conventional wastewater treatment is difficult and expensive. NASA wants to provide technical support of hydroponic wastewater treatment facilities. For more information, contact Dan Burns, re: NASA Research, Northwest Indian College, 2522 Kwina Road, Bellingham, Wash. 98226, (360) 676-2772.

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