My name is Kathleen Nguyen, and I am currently a chemistry student at San Diego Miramar College and San Diego Mesa College. With the internship opportunity for the Disturbance Hydrology Lab led by Dr. Kinoshita, I was excited about the field work because I enjoy the great outdoors of San Diego and working on hands-on activities. Not only that, it was intriguing to learn more about the impacts of the California fires and seeing the vegetation and wildlife in Alvarado Creek. I have only worked with lab techniques in a chemistry setting, but working with the field equipment has increased my competence in my hands-on skills and knowledge on the field of civil engineering.
As I am still growing as a student, I found the techniques and experiences of the Disturbance Hydrology Lab to be helpful in my academic career. Chemistry and civil engineering may be different disciplines, but they have similar methods to calculate and measure data. I have learned how to infiltrate water to observe Alvarado Creek’s soil water movement and rates, and analyzed field data with Excel for surveying. Data measured and collected from surveying was used to observe the land properties and vegetative state of Alvarado Creek. I have participated in stream gauging and pebble counts to understand collect information on stream processes.
The internship activities have taught me about how diverse and inclusive civil engineering is, and I am intrigued with the hydrology aspect of it. Learning more about the different kinds of methods and techniques used in civil engineering has broadened my perspective on the kinds of careers that I am interested in going into and how it resonates with the field of chemistry.
The hands-on experiences done with the Disturbance Hydrology Lab have enhanced my skills and confidence in the laboratory, and have geared me towards my future endeavors in the STEM industry. Despite the limited activities that could be performed during the COVID pandemic, I still had an amazing experience with the Disturbance Hydrology Lab. The Disturbance Hydrology Lab team are supportive and positive mentors. I enjoyed both the field work and working with them, and I have gained skills that will last me a life time not only academically, but skills that foster both communication and listening skills.
My name is Rey Becerra and I am an undergraduate civil engineering student at San Diego State University. I joined the Disturbance Hydrology Lab (DHL) during the spring semester, 2019. My research focuses on examining the post-fire sediment response in a riparian watershed with dense invasive plant species to better understand soil dynamics during the 2018-2019 storm season by developing a regression model to estimate soil erosion in relation to sediment physical characteristics after the storm events.
This research opportunity has allowed me to develop and apply new skills in different settings. Specific field tasks such as soil sample collection and surveying were existing skills I applied constantly and used effectively to obtain critical data for the understanding of soil dynamics. Lab skills I learned included performing methods to identify soil samples' physical characteristics and helped me to better understand topics discussed in my major This research project challenged my ability to communicate my data analysis in an academic research setting. However, by conducting presentations at several conferences and reporting my findings through a research report this experience offered me multiple opportunities to improve my communication skills. Additionally, this internship has given me a sense of belonging in the research team which I believe is important for any undergraduate student. Therefore, my involvement in the Disturbance Hydrology Lab has been beneficial for my academic growth inside and outside of class and it has granted me future prospects including pursuing a master’s degree in civil engineering with the objective to increase my career path opportunities in water resources engineering. The multiple field expeditions were my favorite experiences while being part of the Disturbance Hydrology Lab because they represented a challenge to a problem and as an undergraduate civil engineer it’s empirical to realize that applied sciences require creativity and critical thinking to approach the problem.
The research experience offered by the Disturbance Hydrology Lab is fundamental for STEM related majors seeking research opportunities to advance their understanding in water resources and hydrology. The DHL’s motivation to better understand hydrologic disturbances is significant for the developing urban communities and the experiences and opportunities offered to undergraduate students can be academically rewarding.
About the authors
Follow the adventures and reflections from the DHL undergraduate student interns and research assistants!