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Research Experience Realized

10-27-2015

Writer(s): Dr. Marty Frisbee and Jill Wable

Philine Bogeholz spent 11 weeks on the campus attending the Purdue Summer SURF Program. She is from Germany and has just entered her junior year at the Georgia Southern University where she majors in geology.

When asked what brought her to campus, Bogeholz recounted her story. Miss. Bogeholz had an interest in research, but no opportunities at her current university. She started looking into summer research opportunities, but again found that most were not available to international students. Then she happened across information on the Purdue Summer SURF program and Dr. Marty Frisbee.

Miss Bogeholz found a kindred spirit in Professor Frisbee. They are both interested in hydrology and ground water research and both have an affiliation with GA Southern (Dr. Frisbee taught there for 1 year). Until this summer Miss Bogeholz had not performed research, but was excited for the opportunity. Thus, her summer plans turned to embarking on a trip to Purdue University.

For anyone considering the SURF program or attending Purdue based on her experience, “The SURF program is really, really helpful. It has a lot of seminars. They tell you about graduate school and you can determine, if that is something that I want to do”, Bogeholz said. She went on describe the Purdue campus as “perfect for the type of research I want to do.”  The experience from the summer her a very positive view of Purdue. She met many good people for networking. “I will take a lot away with me”, said Bogeholz. Since her experience with the program and on campus, Purdue is her top choice for graduate school.

Frisbee_Bogeholz_SURF Poster

Dr. Marty Frisbee and Philine Bogeholz at SURF poster presentation. Photo courtesy of Jill Wable.EAPS 

Her research focused on quantifying groundwater and surface-water interactions in tributaries to the Wabash River using water geochemistry (solutes released from rock-water interactions and geochemical kinetics), radon-222 (222Rn), and tritium (3H). Samples were collected from multiple locations at Ross Hills Park and Shades State Park. However, collecting the water samples for analysis became a challenge due to the extreme rain and flooding this year. The Wabash River started flooding upon the start of her project and did not cease until the last week of her project.  “We were wanting to study base flow, but that’s been difficult. It has been flooding. We couldn’t do several of the experiments that we wanted.” said Bogeholz.

During the project, Miss Bogeholz designed a 7-week lab experiment in which she quantified the ingrowth of 222Rn in samples of different rock types found in the study sites, mainly shale, sandstone, and till.  She learned how to use a radon detector to measure the concentration of 222Rn in groundwater and surface water. In her research, she found evidence for groundwater with average residence times ranging from 12 to 36 years.  Dr. Frisbee said these results were very interesting especially givenH the small drainage areas of the tributaries and the extremely rainy season in which they were collected. However, that was not the only surprise. Her analyses also indicate that flow through shale, an unlikely candidate, may be a primary source of baseflow in some of the small streams.  Dr. Frisbee said that this was also very interesting since shale commonly has very low permeability, but her data also suggests that flow along bedding-parallel fractures may provide that vital connection between surface water and groundwater in some of these tributaries.  The results gained from the project research provide information that Professor Frisbee can build on and produce a research paper in the near future. 

Dr. Frisbee said “She did a really good job. I pushed her to do her own thing. I learned from my postdoc mentor that giving undergrad researchers the opportunity to take possession of their own small research projects was much more rewarding than simply employing them as field or lab assistants. Philiine built a nice little research project over the summer complete with a few unexpected surprises that we hope to further quantify in future work.” Miss  Bogeholz presented her research findings during a final project poster presentation on August 6 at the 2015 SURF Summer Research Symposium. 

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