Sheila Saia

Sheila Saia2011 RAP Award
Cornell University
Advisor: Professor Todd Walter

Linking Landscape Hydrology with Soil Microbiology to Improve the Prediction of Phosphorus in Urban Watersheds

The goal of my research is to improve water quality by gaining a better understanding of the linkages between soil microbes, hydrology and the transport of phosphorus over the land and into lakes and streams.  Phosphorus is found naturally in the environment at very small concentrations but human sources of phosphorus have been shown to initiate algal blooms.  As the algae decompose, it consumes oxygen which surrounding aquatic plants and animals need to survive.  With these water quality issues in mind, I will focus on quantifying the importance of a particular bacteria that accumulates and releases phosphorus under certain conditions.  Are more of these bacteria found in wetter areas?  To what extent do these bacteria contribute to phosphorus release in the landscape (compared to chemical and physical processes)?  I am excited to study these bacteria in the landscape because most scientific studies thus far have only looked at its role in wastewater treatment plants.  I am looking forward to sharing my findings with the local community and collaborating with the staff at the Mianus River Gorge Preserve.

Visit Sheila’s website

Please click here to view Sheila’s presentation at the American Geophysical Union’s 45th Annual Meeting December 2012.

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