Reyna Mehta

Working with the Upper Mississippi Center and the Center for the Advancement of Community Health and Wellness has been an amazing experience for me so far! This is my first time doing hands-on research, and I think the best part is going to the fields and collecting samples that you will run in the lab by yourself with the help of all the great mentors and professors. 

There is much to learn everyday. There were so many things that I learned during the first week in training that I applied in fieldwork, lab and data entering. For example, calculating discharge, turbidity, calibrating probes and pH meters, IDEXX, data entering efficiently on data sheets, interpreting data collected and correlating lab results. 

Understanding science from a broader perspective, I have realized that it is more about overcoming and studying the failed results/protocols than sticking to them and wondering if you are a fit for the place. We ran two to three different protocols over a sample of water that had been collected by us a few days earlier. We ran those protocols to see if we could extract the sedimented matter to further extract DNA from it. 

In the end we concluded that we must run our protocol the same day as when we collect the water samples. Understanding what you are doing and overcoming those challenges is a big part of this experience. 

One of the most important things that I learned during the first week is that research is a daunting experience, however if you are truly enjoying what you do, you will not feel the pressure. So trying to find the smallest enjoyment and happiness in everything you do will make your experience memorable and useful to others.

One of our water collection days. Two other student researchers and I are out in one of the streams that we collect water from. 

Dr. Murphy and I are by the slough discussing one of our microbial source tracking protocols and preparing to grab a water sample to take back to the lab.

-Reyna Mehta

By Peyton Heisch
Peyton Heisch