Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Budgets (WEBB) Program
Student participation in the USGS Luquillo WEBB project, Puerto Rico
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.
down the page to see photographs of student activities.
Participating schools, universities, institutions:
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."
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
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.
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,
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.
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
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.
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