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July 15, 2016 - Week 7 Newsletter

RECCS is a 9-week summer student research program in critical zone science for Colorado community college students funded by the National Science Foundation and coordinated by CIRES Education Outreach and the Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory.

For the most recent RECCS happenings, check out our blog.

RECCS Student Researcher Spotlight

This week our featured RECCS student researcher is Michaela Brannum, seen here checking on incubated water samples. Michaela is being mentored by Jimmy McCutchan, Associate Director of the CIRES Center for Limnology at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Michaela Brannum
Watch Michaela's elevator speech!

Research project:
Nitrogen or Phosphorus: The Limiting Factor on Algal Growth in Colorado Lakes

Michaela grew up in Arvada, Colorado. She is highly passionate about the outdoors and wildlife. Michaela enjoys hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, discovering new music, and watching sports and movies. She is a certified rescue diver and is always on the lookout for more diving opportunities.
Michaela recently graduated from Colorado Northwestern Community College in Rangely, Colorado with an Associate of Science degree with a focus on Marine Science and Oceanography. As a junior in college, she is now going on to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology at University of Hawaii in Manoa this fall. After earning her next degree, Michaela plans to attend graduate school. At this point she is considering veterinary medicine, maritime law, ocean engineering, or physical oceanography.

Limiting Factors in the Limnology Lab

Michaela adds nitrogen and phosphorus to lake water samples to test these nutrients' effects on algal growth.
The boat is readied for a day of collecting water samples on Lake Dillon in Colorado. Not a bad way to spend a day at the "office"!
The combination of nitrogen and phosphorus resulted in a higher level of algae growth, as indicated by spectrometer readings of chlorophyll components that Michaela isolated in the lab.

Intern Tips

  • Refer to Bec's Communications Workshop syllabus for poster & presentation details.
  • Ensure that you have a face-to-face check-in with your mentor in the next week to review the final stages of your research project and program deliverables.
  • Reach out to the RECCS team if you have any questions!

Intern Deadlines

Poster Session: UCAR Center Green 1 Auditorium
July 28, 2-5:30 pm
(7/26 8am is the deadline to upload final posters to folder on Google drive for printing)

 2:00 - 2:30 pm: Poster set-up
 2:30 - 4:00 pm: Poster judging/feedback
4:00 – 5:30 pm: Public viewing and reception

Presentations: CIRES Auditorium
July 29, 1-3 pm
(7/28 8am is the deadline to upload final presentations to folder on Google drive)

7-minute presentations, with 3 minutes for questions

Communication Workshop Update

It's hard to believe we are so close to the end! In this week's scientific communication workshop, we discussed what they'd learned during their impromptu group presentations last week. It sounds like this was a really valuable exercise! We also talked about conclusions, acknowledgements and bringing all the pieces of the poster together for flow, as well as about authorship and the responsibilities of authors and coauthors. Please chat with your students about who they should include as coauthors on their posters and what affiliations you prefer that they use. Finally, we talked about the AGU Virtual Poster Session ( While it's not required that they present in this session, we are strongly encouraging them to do so. Their homework this week includes completing an abstract for this purpose (in discussion with co-authors; actual submission is not until later in August), as well as completing a final draft of the poster (both due to Bec by Friday the 22nd). We had time in class to work on the abstract or on their posters. It is great to see these coming together, and we're excited to see everyone's presentations. 

Mentor Tips

  • With less than two weeks left before presentations begin, please encourage your intern to wrap up their data collection and concentrate on analysis, writing and bringing their work to a conclusion.
  • If the work is inconclusive, doesn't get as far as expected, or shows results that were different from expected, please help your intern frame their discussion for their posters, papers and presentations. We all realize that this is the way that science is sometimes—and that the summer is very short—but this can be hard to accept for students new to research!
  • Don't hesitate to reach out to the RECCS staff if you have any questions or concerns.
Copyright © 2016 CIRES Education Outreach, All rights reserved.

RECCS is funded by the National Science Foundation Grant Award Number 1461281

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