A dream to attend UPenn becomes a reality
Colin Saltzgaber has had his eye on attending the University of Pennsylvania, where his dad graduated from, for as long as he can remember. He said his Research Experience was a big part of being accepted, specifically a letter of recommendation from Headwaters Executive Director Meg Seifert.
“Meg touched upon not only the work I did with Headwaters, but also she wrote about broader things like work ethic and how I contributed to help Headwaters outside of science, whether it was through donations or giving talks helping other students out,” said Colin, who plans on studying mineralogy and geology at Penn. “The Headwaters program itself, it was one of things I talked a lot about, ways I could back up my interest in mineralogy and geology.”
Colin’s research project focused on vegetation in relation to slope in the Yosemite Valley. He said the path to getting published was “tedious and stressful, to be honest,” but rewarding and well worth it in the end.
“This stuff is really important and something I’ll take to college with me,” he said.
Environmental concern for her own backyard becomes published research
Thresia Vazhaeparambil read with concern about the proposed expansion of the Pacheco Reservoir in Santa Clara County and decided to do something about it. Her Research Experience project put a literal microscope on the impact of dams on the nitrification of the surrounding ecosystem.
“The rendering of the proposed expanded reservoir will increase the reservoir’s operational capacity up to 140,000 acre-feet of water,” she said. “Dams have many widely known benefits to humans, but not many people are aware of the harmful effects they can have on their surrounding environment.
“An expansion of this magnitude will have significant and severe impacts on the reservoir’s ecosystem, which is why I wanted to further study dams and the nitrification of their surroundings.”
She echoed Colin’s sentiments of the publication process being arduous but worth it.
“I was not expecting the depth of feedback that I received and was surprised by the extensive nature of the process,” she said. “… It was reviewed by three scientists with relevant expertise in the specific field in addition to the editors and reviewers of the journal itself. While the process seemed intimidating at first, it was an exciting learning experience.”
Finding large-scale climate phenomena in his own backyard
Ryan Li also based his project out of interest in the water quality in a prominent watershed in the San Jose area, studying the relationship between macroinvertebrates, water quality, and the health of Stevens Creek.
He said his favorite part of the process was “the opportunity to delve deeply into an area of science which I have been interested in while helping to make new potential discoveries which relate to that field of science as well as the study area.”
He said the publication process helped him improve his ability to translate findings into writing.
“I would say to a student considering entering this program that they should definitely give it a go,” he said. “Even if you don’t have an exact idea of what your research project would look like, the people who run the program will help you narrow down and guide you through the process of writing a research paper.”