Sampling 143 lakes in 7 states, 8
Grabbing a little bit of water from a
lake can be a lot of work, especially if the waterway is hidden deep in
the woods. Bad directions, wrong turns and outdated trail maps make just
getting there a challenge. Then you've got to make your way through
unmarked trails, bugs, swamps and flooded streams. Out on the lake, you
have to hope that it's not too windy to paddle a canoe a few miles, or
that your inflatable boat doesn't spring a leak.
University of Maine ecology and environmental sciences graduate student
Catherine Rosfjord knows all about the logistics — and loves navigating
them. As a scientist in the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for
Environmental and Watershed Research, she visited 143 lakes in seven
northeastern states last summer as part of her study of long-term water
quality trends. The lakes were sampled by the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency in 1984 as part of the Eastern Lake Survey (ELS). With
funding from the Northeastern States Research Cooperative, Rosfjord's
resampling will allow scientists to assess changes in water quality in
the last 20 years.
It was the fieldwork that first attracted Rosfjord to the ELS project.
Before coming to Maine to start her graduate work, she was an instructor
with Outward Bound in Asheville, N.C., leading groups on backpacking
trips in the southern Appalachians.
With Mitchell Center students and staff, Rosfjord accomplished what it
took dozens of EPA employees with a helicopter to do 20 years ago. In
less than eight weeks, Rosfjord and crew sampled 143 lakes in Maine, New
Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New York and
Data collected will help Rosfjord and other scientists detect changes in
water quality. Since the first ELS in 1984, the Clean Air Act was
amended to reduce emissions of sulfate, a precursor to acid rain. By
measuring water chemistry, scientists can gauge the effectiveness of
Clean Air policies.
"I think what we're going to find is that buffering (or acid
neutralizing) capacity has decreased in sensitive lakes, so lakes are
still acidic even though we have made considerable efforts to decrease
acid rain," she says.
Kayti Frost's study of the chemistry involved in papermaking has taken
her abroad and throughout the state.
This semester, her last as a University of Maine undergraduate, she's
working in the lab of UMaine chemical engineer David Neivandt, where she
is conducting research to determine how modifying precipitated calcium
carbonate affects the physical properties of paper.
Precipitated calcium carbonate contributes to paper's brightness and
"The experience has helped in terms of confidence in applying concepts,"
says the senior from Hermon, Maine, talking about her internship, co-op
and research opportunities as an undergraduate. "Working hands-on helps
you get a deeper understanding about the application and how things
In 2003, Frost had a three-month internship in Belgium at Minerals
Technologies Inc., one of the world's leading suppliers of precipitated
Last year, her co-op assignments were in Maine at Madison Paper
Industries and Georgia Pacific.
When she graduates in August, Frost hopes to pursue an engineering
career in the pulp and paper industry, or a Ph.D.