Herd 'Creek Geeks' exploring effects of humans on waterways
HUNTINGTON -- The recent water crisis in the Kanawha Valley put a spotlight on the quality of West Virginia's rivers and streams, and one Marshall University professor and her students have focused their work on how such an event affects the state's water supply.
Dr. Mindy Armstead, an associate professor of integrated science and technology, is heading up some of that water research. She leads a group of Marshall students who call themselves the "Creek Geeks" and work both in the lab and in the field to study stream ecology and the effects humans have on those ecosystems.
"Our name truly describes how we blend technology with old-fashioned field biology to address some of the most pressing environmental issues in West Virginia and the Appalachian region," said Armstead, who joined the Marshall faculty in 2012 through the state's Eminent Scholars Recruitment and Enhancement initiative to attract nationally recognized researchers.
She says her group's current research projects include studying the effects of selenium on fish communities and evaluating the effects of total dissolved solids on the small organisms-like mayflies, dragonflies and crayfish-that live among the stones and sediment in streams, rivers and lakes. She adds that biological communities are used to evaluate the quality of freshwater systems and can indicate the presence of chemical contaminants.
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