Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Budgets (WEBB) Program

Student participation in the USGS Luquillo WEBB project, Puerto Rico



Photo - View of a rocky stream with a small waterfall.  Click for larger photo Students and volunteers have made many important contributions towards the success of the USGS Luquillo WEBB project by helping in the collection, processing, and archiving of data and samples. Graduate students have advanced our scientific understanding of important geochemical and hydrological processes and budgets by conducting research and publishing their results.

Some of the schools and universities that have been represented by participating students are listed below. The USGS also welcomes the participation of volunteers--more information on volunteering with the USGS can be found at the Volunteer for Science Program web site. Click here to see information specific to volunteering with the USGS Luquillo WEBB project.

Scroll down the page to see photographs of student activities.



Participating schools, universities, institutions:


Photo - Students conducting sampling of suspended sediment, 1997, Cayaguás river, near San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico Click for larger photo Sampling of suspended sediment, 1997, Cayaguás river, near San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico

University of Puerto Rico student Abigail Santiago and Antioch College student Jason Unrine use a bridge sampler to collect a water sample for analysis of suspended sediment concentration. The University of Puerto Rico has several arrangements through which students work or volunteer their services with the USGS. One of these programs is sponsored by the National McNair Program .

As described in their web site: "The National McNair Programs are built on the assumption that exceptional individuals from low-income backgrounds who would make excellent university professors may not be easily identified. In some cases, inadequate academic preparation in secondary school or a rough transition to college work may result in these students giving up on sciences or having their potential unrecognized."

"The aim of the 99 federally funded national McNair programs is to identify qualified students as undergraduates, provide them with mentors in their chosen disciplines, provide a research stipend for students to conduct research and publish their results, and to present their findings at a research conference."


Photo - USGS Hydrologic Technician Angel Torres removing samples from automatic water sampler at the Canóvanas river station, near Canóvanas, Puerto Rico. Click for larger photo USGS Hydrologic Technician Angel Torres removing samples from automatic water sampler at the Canóvanas river station, near Canóvanas, Puerto Rico

University of Puerto Rico students have assisted Angel Torres and other WEBB project staff since 1991 in a variety of tasks including collection and processing of stream water, ground water, rain water samples, mapping and surveying of landslides, making discharge measurements, and collecting stream sediment samples. In addition to the McNair Program, mentioned above, many students have worked with support from the Howard Hughes Program. These students typically work full-time for several months during the summer when the University of Puerto Rico does not schedule courses. The University of Puerto Rico Passport Program is another means by which students work with WEBB project staff. The Passport Program provides support to students who work part-time during semesters when they are also taking courses on campus. The Puerto Rico Alliance for Minority Participation provides funding for students to work part-time for a researcher, with the goal of improving their scientific skills, and enhancing their ability to enter graduate school.


Photo - Sampling the transport of bedload sediment, 1997, Cayaguás river, near San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico. Click for larger photo Sampling the transport of bedload sediment, 1997, Cayaguás river, near San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico

Antioch College student, Jason Unrine, collects sediment using a Helley-Smith bedload sampler. As sand is tranported downstream, it is trapped in a nylon mesh bag attached to the sampler. These data, used in conjunction with water discharge measurements provide an estimate of the fluvial transport of bedload sediment from this watershed.

With coordination between the school's Center for Cooperative Education and the USGS, Antioch students work with WEBB project personnel for a semester as part of their undergraduate academic degree program. Antioch College is located in Yellow Springs, Ohio.


Photo - Students collecting water samples for analysis of chemical constituents, Icacos river, Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico. Click for larger photo Students collecting water samples for analysis of chemical constituents, Icacos river, Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico

Students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, located in Worcester, Massachusetts, have participated in several focused studies under the auspices of the Luquillo WEBB program. The students travel to Puerto Rico each spring to work in groups of two or three on a scientific problem that integrates research and specific social problems. These student projects are part of their undergraduate degree requirement and provide them with the opportunity to address real problems and attempt to develop solutions.

To date, Worcester Polytechnic Institute students have examined the contribution of landslide-derived sediment to downstream sedimentation of the Loíza Reservoir, and the amount of and floodplain storage of anthropogenically-caused soil erosion in upland watersheds. In 1998, three Worcester Polytechnic Institute students worked with USGS Luquillo WEBB project staff to study the rates of sand transport in selected Puerto Rican rivers. The objective of this work was to estimate the availabilty of aggregate (material used by the construction industry for making concrete). The island of Puerto Rico currently has a deficiency of construction aggregate and new sources are being sought by the Puerto Rico Commonwealth government. http://www.wpi.edu/cgi-bin/display_project?98D046I:66:20800


Photo - Antioch College student Jason Unrine retrieves water samples collected by automatic stage-activated sampler at Quebrada Guabá, Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico. Click for larger photo Antioch College student Jason Unrine retrieves water samples collected by automatic stage-activated sampler at Quebrada Guabá, Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico.

Students participate in a variety of field and laboratory tasks under the supervision of USGS WEBB project researchers and staff. The experience affords undergraduate students with opportunities to see the day-to-day realities of working in science. Work in the Luquillo Experimental Forest (a National Science Foundation-funded Long Term Ecological Research Site ) can be particularly rewarding in part because of the exotic environment. At the same time, the students assist the WEBB project with ongoing data collection and processing efforts.


Photo - Antioch College students work with USGS staff processing samples for analysis of suspended sediment concentration. Click for larger photoAntioch College students work with USGS staff processing samples for analysis of suspended sediment concentration

Antioch College students Teresa and Elizabeth Jodon assist USGS Hydrologic Technician Robert F. Fitzhugh in the Caribbean District Sediment Laboratory. Student help is invaluable in the analyses of large numbers of samples that are collected and analyzed for characteristics such as suspended sediment concentration and the distribution of particle size. These data form part of the extensive data base of water quality parameters developed and maintained by the USGS.


All photographs on this page taken by Matthew C. Larsen and Angel J. Torres Sánchez, USGS, Puerto Rico


Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America home page. USA.gov logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: http://water.usgs.gov/webb/luquillo/students.html
Page Contact Information: Linda Friedman
Page Last Modified: Thursday, 10-Feb-2011 12:33:16 EST