Hi! I am Sumana Murugan, a rising senior at the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences studying Environmental Sciences and completing a Certificate in Geographic Information Systems. This is my first blog through the Community Research Fellowship. I am a member of Chi Omega and Epsilon Eta on campus. I am passionate about water management and conservation in Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. A fun fact about me is that I love going to concerts so I am very excited to be able to go this summer in Pittsburgh!
This summer, I will be working with the Pittsburgh Water Collaboratory with Dr. Emily Elliot as my mentor, as well as my community partner UpstreamPGH. The PWC works to ensure an open space for learning, connecting, and aligning efforts to improve and sustain water resources. UpstreamPGH is an organization that engages, advocates, and plans for restoration and stormwater management for the Nine Mile Run Watershed.
My research focuses on the water quality impacts on Fern Hollow Creek caused by the demolition, removal and reconstruction of Fern Hollow Bridge. This bridge recently collapsed on January 28th of this year due to decay in its structure. It is cause for concern as any deposited debris and material can enter the stream while clean up and restoration occurs for the bridge. I will work with my partner organization, UpstreamPGH, and provide them with quantitative data that involves macro-invertebrate sampling and water conductivity to investigate any changes or disturbances to the quality of water.
Conserving and protecting watersheds is important as these water bodies supply us with drinking water, water for agriculture and manufacturing, habitats for plants and animals, as well as opportunities for recreation. Pollution from various factors such as erosion, runoff, or in this instance reconstruction of a bridge, can affect the health of the watershed. This is why I am excited for this opportunity to ensure the safety and ecological health of the Fern Hollow tributary.
By working with the Pittsburgh Water Collaboratory and partnering with UpStreamPGH, I will be able to understand our effects on our surrounding ecosystems and this can help me in my future endeavors to advocate and consult on environmentally safe demolition and construction practices.
I look forward to seeing what this summer holds and what I can contribute to the university and our community!