I really enjoyed Xitlali Ramirez’s talk, which focused on her research regarding the effects of urban development on local watersheds and their capabilities to act as insect habitats.
What drew me to her research was how much it stood out from a lot of what other people were working on. I’d heard about several genes in different species and lots of microtechnology from my colleagues’ other talks over the week, and hers was very different.
While listening to her describe the issues of rainfall runoff in developed watersheds because of concrete cover and the intricacies of the sedimentary effects of drainage pipes on creek beds and the possible contaminants causing ecological issues in the creeks themselves and their watersheds (she covered a lot!), I was reminded a lot of my APES class in high school. While in my class we mostly talked about theoretical issues and the possible effects of different forms of industrial activity or policy on the environment, Xitlali’s talk made these less-concrete (hahah) ideas seem more relevant to all of us; we live here, next to Ellerbe Creek and New Hope Creek!
It also reminded me of an issue Dr. Susan Alberts, the PI in my lab, was talking about in our last lab session. At he ABRP Camp in Kenya, which is quite remote, the well broke. While going without water for a time is something some of us might have experienced in our lives (whether through hurricane or a strong storm breaking a line), it’s a much more serious issue an an area that doesn’t have access to easy water replacements like bottled water. It’s easy for us, I think, to forget about all of the critical infrastructure that supports our research (and our modern lives!) until it breaks. I love that Xitlali was working on helping to repair some water systems that, if they did “break” would probably become huge problems for North Carolinians.