Adi Walker

Aiden Zoller, one of my MST team members, and I in the woods helping the Wildlife team set up cameras.

After setting up a camera in the Loud Thunder forest preserve, I got to pose for this picture. This is an easy way to record data like the site name and date in the camera.

After setting up cams with Anna Fletcher and Angie Truelsen, we took a break at this beautiful lookout point. The hike was well worth the view!

This was my first time ever wearing waders. We were being trained in one of the main streams on how to measure discharge and take some other measurements.

This is a picture of me before doing field work for the first time. I was so excited! When we do field work, we wear a blue or yellow Augustana UMC and CACHW shirt, that way we are easily identifiable in the field. We often run into people while we are in the field, and it is nice for them to tell who we are working for!

In order to grow bacteria, we needed to make and pour LB agar.

Here are a few materials that the MST team is using in lab; Nalgene bottles with water samples in them, pipettes and pipette tips, and our LB agar plates.


My name is Adi Walker and I am a rising junior at Augustana with a major in biology and a minor in spanish. This summer, I am working with the Upper Mississippi Research Center (UMC) and the Center for the Advancement of Community Health and Wellness (CACHW). The centers are working with the city of Davenport to assess the quality of its watershed by providing data from research spanning across different areas of science. I am working specifically with the Microbial Source Tracking (MST) Team as well as the Maternal Health (MH) Team. 

Aside from sample collection, MST is completed in a lab. MST, unlike the center’s other established projects, is a pilot project. The center has never tackled this task, but my team has been working hard to research methodology and create a procedure that will hopefully yield the results we want. So far, we have been finalizing our procedure and are starting to troubleshoot our ideas. We will be extracting bacterial DNA from the water and sequencing it in order to gather important data about where–or who–common contaminants in the watershed are coming from. I am gaining a lot of knowledge in the areas of project development and trial and error in scientific research!

In addition to the sequencing project, my teammates and I are interested in antibiotic resistance and its implications if found in our watershed. We have made and poured LB agar plates and we will be collecting samples to grow and identify bacterial colonies. We hope to eventually test these bacteria for antibiotic resistance. I love how the projects we chose for the UMC and CACHW can be modified to align with our individual interests. It is going to allow me to pursue projects that I am passionate about and that I never thought possible.

My other main project, working with the MH team, involves a lot of computer based research, data entry, and statistical analysis. My teammate and I have been entering and analyzing statistics from 2021 and 2022 and have started looking at some provisional data from 2023. We are also gathering information about different Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) trainings that are focused towards maternal health. We are doing this with the hope that these resources will make it easier for hospitals and other healthcare organizations to commit to making maternal health DEI a standard part of their employee training procedures. Maternal health is a cause I care so deeply about and I am so glad that I am able to help out in this way!

Despite my main projects mainly lab and computer work, I have spent lots of time outside this summer. Working with the UMC and CACHW, I have been able to do a little bit of work for every project which keeps things interesting! You never know where you might end up on any given day. If certain teams need help with data collection or lab work, all of the other teams jump in head first to help. I have been able to go out into the field setting up cameras with the wildlife team, collect samples and water quality data at different tributaries, and hike through many forests and creeks. I have spotted amazing wildlife, working on my animal and plant identification skills as well. I love being in the lab as well as in the field, so this internship has been a great opportunity to explore both of these areas. With something new to do everyday, I have been kept very busy!

I truly can’t believe all that I have accomplished in the first two weeks of this summer research experience. I have gained so much knowledge, as well as many new friends and mentors. With eight weeks left, I am excited to see all that I will go on to accomplish with my colleagues!

-Adilyn Walker

By Peyton Heisch
Peyton Heisch