My name is Katherine Barrett, and I am a first year PhD student in the Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame. I received my Master of Science degree in Environmental Science & Biology from The College at Brockport, State University of New York. During my graduate career at Brockport, I took courses in Biostatistics, Fish Biology, Limnology, Wetland Ecology, Multivariate Statistics, Aquatic Toxicology, Aquatic Invertebrates, and GIS.
Before I go any further, what is an aquatic invertebrate? Well, it must like water, otherwise it wouldn't have that aquatic modifier. Invertebrates are a clade of animals that do not have a backbone; some have waxy cuticles that function as a protective outer skeleton, while others have shells. Mussels, clams, insects, worms, leeches, snails...these are all invertebrates!
That being said, my passion within the realm of Aquatic Ecology is the aquatic invertebrate community. Starting in June 2013 until August 2015, I have had the opportunity to work with a group of enthusiastic, tenacious people who share a passion for field research. During that time, I was a graduate research assistant who worked on the "bug" and water quality crew for the Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Monitoring Project. My work on this EPA-funded project involved sampling for aquatic invertebrates and water chemistry in dozens of coastal wetlands along the shore of Lake Ontario, from Hay Bay in Ontario, Canada, to Sodus Bay, New York, to the Genesee River wetland in Rochester, NY. The long hours of fieldwork were some of the most memorable experiences of my life. Even longer hours were spent staring into micrscopes to identify all of the aquatic invertebrates collected over these summers from the various wetlands.
I spent this past summer 2016 in a completely different environment in Charlo, Montana, at the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center (UNDERC-West). For 8 weeks I mentored undergraduate students from colleges across the nation in their research. Two of my mentees undertook stream and wetland biomonitoring projects, and these research avenues took me to some beautiful rivers, including the Jocko River and Mission Creek. I will provide photos to convey just how scenic western Montana streams are.