Kelsey Powers - 2008

Applying knowledge of chemistry to oceanography

Kelsey workingThis summer [2008] JISAO gave me the opportunity to work at the Aquatic Organic Geochemistry lab under Rick Keil. I was very excited to be able to apply my knowledge of chemistry to oceanography. My interest in the ocean stems from my fascination with marine animals and processes affecting the ocean, as well as my love for aquatic activities. I want to continue researching so that we can protect the oceans and all that live in it for the future. Educating and involving the community is the next step in this project. We are building citizen science kits that people can use to take samples of their local water, such as street runoff and samples from Puget Sound.

We analyzed treated wastewater from King County's West Point water treatment plant for certain organic compounds. Looking for spices such as vanillin, cinnamic acid, and other cooking spices gives us a good idea of how much the people of the Greater Seattle area affect the Puget Sound. (Photo above shows Kelly taking water samples from the CTD for spices analysis.) It is a friendly way to show the connection between your kitchen shelf and the surrounding waters.

Twice during the summer the lab took the Clifford A. Barnes [research vessel] off the coast of Vancouver Island to take samples in a fairly untouched environment. Tofino Inlet offers pristine water for a control. I helped analyze the chlorophyll a, oxygen, alkalinity, and the attenuation of light in the water. We weren't doing science the whole time; learning the ukulele was an often occurrence at night and during transect. We were able to see gray whales and a minke whale circled our vessel. The trip to the hot springs that cascaded down to the ocean was an enjoyable break. Working with the scientists at the Keil lab was a wonderful experience that I look forward to continuing.