|Abagael Pruitt presenting at |
the Great Plains Limnology Conference
In October and November of 2018, Abagael presented her research findings during poster sessions at the 2018 Great Plains Limnology Conference and then at the 2018 Governor's Water Conference. The title of her poster was Spatial Variation of Organic Phosphorus Degrading Extracellular Enzymes in Milford Lake. This research led to the KU Environmental Studies Program awarding her the Ruben Zadiagan Scholarship to continue her research on Milford Lake. In conjunction with this scholarship, the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the Kansas Department of Health & Environment (KDHE) and collaborations with Emma Overstreet, Kynser Wahwahsuck, Dr. Burgin, and other members of the Burgin/Loecke lab, Abagael was able to continue her research. This additional research opportunity resulted in a presentation during the Environmental Studies Colloquium last May that she titled Spatial Variation in Water and Sediment Phosphorus chemistry in Milford Lake. Shortly after the colloquium, she developed another poster supported by the MAPS project that she co-authored with Janaye Hanschu, Emma Overstreet, Dr. Terrance Loecke, Dr. Lydia Zeglin, Samantha Thomas, and Dr. Burgin titled Variation in Stream Chemistry Across the Kansas Precipitation Gradient. She presented this poster at the annual Society for Freshwater Scientists Conference, and she won the Best Undergraduate Presentation award.
|Abagael out in the field|
On the left - Abagael pulling up the Eckman dredge, which is filled with sediment
On the right - Abagael taking sediment core for phosphatase activity
As for the MAPS research that won her the Best Undergraduate Presentation Award at the Society for Freshwater Scientists Conference, Abagael described it as follows: "We wanted to understand how stream chemistry changes across Kansas. So, we looked at changes in stream chemistry due to changes in land-use, precipitation, and stream order. This was only the first year of the project and there was a drought last summer, so the results are still preliminary. However, we found that stream order was the most consistent factor for explaining variation in stream chemistry across the state."
A native of Ottawa Kansas, Abagael is a senior in the KU Honors Program working towards a B.S. in Environmental Studies with a minor in Economics. In addition to working in Dr. Burgin’s lab, Abagael is a trombone section rank leader in the Marching Jayhawks (band) and a member of the KU Men's Basketball Band. She also visits with incoming students to introduce and promote the KU Honors Program as an Honors Ambassador. And last year, she volunteered with Dr. Peggy Schultz’s MAPS outreach Kansas Ecology for Elementary Students (KEES) initiative and taught ecology and environmental science to 3rd-graders. She plans to volunteer for the KEES program again this fall. As for Abagael’s future plans, she said, “I have one more year of working in Dr. Amy Burgin's lab at KU. After that, I plan to go to graduate school to continue doing research, and one day, I'd like to work in academia.”
Workforce Development, Education and Outreach funding for undergraduate student research is provided by the Kansas NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006 titled: Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems across Kansas. The grant's workforce development and educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of aquatic, plant and soil microbiome environments and ecological systems.