The Niobrara River Project

School of Natural Resources

Faculty Advisor
Jessica Corman
Contact Email
Potential UCARE Research Position?
Start Date
Paid or Volunteer
Paid Rate
Hours Per Week
Acceptable Undergraduate Majors

Streams in Nebraska not only provide important habitats for birds and fish, but they also carry water used for irrigation and recharge groundwater that can be used for drinking water. The quality of stream water is dependent, in part, on the nutrients in it. High levels of nitrogen and phosphorus – often from surrounding fields or rangeland – can impair stream water, as well as lead to eutrophication of aquatic ecosystems. However, streams can also process these nutrients, minimizing the risks to eutrophication. Hence, it is imperative to when and how streams act to process nutrients rather than just as move water across the landscape. Last year, we began work to understand ecosystem processes within the Niobrara River (, but given the massive flooding in the state, we were unable to determine baseline conditions of the river. This summer, I am looking for 2 – 3 students to join the expedition and continue the research.

 Student experiences will be field- and laboratory-based. Each student will work with Dr. Corman to develop an independent project that complements the work of others on the team. Field techniques in which the student may be involved include periphyton growth bioassays, water and microbial biofilm sampling, and deploying high-frequency sensors to monitor primary production and respiration. Laboratory analyses in which the students may be involved include carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus content assessment of water and biofilm using bench-top spectroscopy and auto-analyzers. The field component of this work will take place near Valentine, NE. Students must be able to live in remote field locations during the field season (expected trips are 1 – 2 weeks in length; housing, which may include camping, during field campaigns will be provided).


  • Ability to perform manual labor (e.g., carrying water and hiking) in hot, humid conditions
  • An interest in biology, chemistry, and/or ecology
  • Willingness to learn new skills (previous experience not necessary)
  • Ability to follow directions and work independently
  • As I am interested in having a student working in the lab for several years, beginning students are also encouraged to apply

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