Streams and Ecosystem ecology in Nebraska

School of Natural Resources
Faculty Advisor
Jessica Corman
Contact Email
Start Date
Paid or Volunteer
Paid, can also apply for UCARE
Hours Per Week

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. I am looking for several students to work on a project to describe stream water quality and nutrient cycling in Nebraska.

 Student experiences will be field- and laboratory-based.  Students will help deploy field experiments in streams and will gain expertise in analyzing water samples for chemical constituents and analyzing high-frequency data collected from field equipment. Field techniques in which the student may be involved include nutrient spiraling assays, water and microbial biofilm sampling, and deploying high-frequency sensors in streams 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 throughout the state. Hence, 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). Students who apply through UCARE will work with Dr. Corman to develop an independent research project related to stream water quality in Nebraska.


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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