Pam Wegener, Graduate Research Assistant

PamWegner_field
Pam Wegener, Graduate Student, Watershed Biogeochemistry, Colorado State Univ

Education & Experience

2014-Present  Watershed Science Graduate Research Assistant at Colorado State University

2013   Watershed Science Intern for the Charles River Watershed Association in Weston, MA

2010-2012  Stable Isotope Research Assistant at Brown University

2012  B.A. in Geology (biology track) from Brown University

My Interests

I am currently interested in the influence of hydrology (water flow paths, retention times, hydrologic connectivity) on stream biogeochemistry (nutrient uptake and stream ecosystem metabolism). Outside of science, I indulge in aimless bike rides and walks, draw/paint weird looking creatures, and play piano and guitar

How I became a scientist

I was always interested in the foundational sciences taught in secondary education (chemistry, biology, physics), but that interest was often equally matched by my love for the humanities and arts. However, it was during my first undergraduate Geology class that the tide turned in favor of the sciences. Nature had always been one of the greatest inspirations in my life – and with an introduction to the scientific processes behind rivers, mountains, forests, and beaches, I became even more inspired by how deeply complex the natural world was. I wanted to experience first-hand how, by stringing together various pieces of the puzzle, scientists work to unravel some of nature’s mysteries. I therefore took on a research position in Yongsong Huang’s paleoclimate lab at Brown University, where I analyzed stable isotopes in the leaf waxes of ancient oceanic sediments to learn about the timing and magnitude of the East Asian monsoon. This instilled in me the bug for scientific research – and I was soon eager to apply my research skills to issues in water resources. I was thus grateful to begin work as a Watershed MS with at Colorado State University under the mentorship of Dr. Tim Covino in the summer of 2014. Doing fieldwork alongside a pristine mountain river in Rocky Mountain National Park, I am constantly bewildered by my good fortune in discovering watershed science, and appreciative of all of the mentorship that made my journey to grad school in the sciences possible.

How my work benefits society

My current work takes place in a beaver meadow, or low-gradient multithreaded system formed from multiple beaver dams. Beaver have played a key role in the formation of riparian wetland valleys in the Rockies – yet today, few active beaver colonies currently exist in the region. By better understanding the beaver meadow environment, I aim to offer a glimpse into past hydrological and biogeochemical dynamics. Knowledge of historical baseline conditions is key to devising watershed management strategies that seek to promote healthy, sustainable fluvial ecosystems.