Success Story

Student Name: Josi Herron
Institution: University of Great Falls

Description:
In the summer of 2010 Josi Herron, a junior Biology major from the University of Great Falls MT, spent a summer at UMass Boston working with Dr. Robyn Hannigan on a project WAY outside of biology. Having just returned from a trip to Earthquake stricken Haiti, Dr. Hannigan and her colleagues had in hand groundwater samples and lake samples from a region north of Port-Au-Prince. Since the region was expected to receive refugees Josi was asked to investigate the water quality in the region and evaluate whether it was safe to drink and use for irrigation of crops. This past September Josi became the first member of her family to leave the US and traveled to southern Italy where she presented the results of her research at GeoMed 2011. The conference, focused on the relation between geology and human health, provided the perfect venue for Josi's research which showed that the groundwater had elevated concentrations of metals and its chemistry was directly linked to that of the lake itself suggesting that the 2010 Earthquake changed groundwater flow patterns in the area. Josi's research provided a fundamental understanding of how earthquakes can change groundwater-surface water systems and change the quality of the water very quickly.