Over the past several weeks I have had the opportunity to collaborate with my community partner UpstreamPgh and their wonderful staff along with my mentors in the Pittsburgh Water Collaboratory. We have been able to refine our collective research goals for the rest of this summer that will help to advocate for the restoration of Nine Mile Run and its tributaries. My research will help to ensure PennDOT, which is currently in charge of the construction of the new Fern Hollow Bridge, will address a stream restoration plan to return the stream back to its original condition.
Currently the goal of my project is to collect raw data from the water samples at three different sites in Fern Hollow and to convey the findings in a way that is accessible to all stakeholders of the bridge and surrounding areas. This means that this data needs to reach groups such as the communities surrounding Fern Hollow Creek, PennDOT, policymakers, other environmental advocacy groups, etc.
In order to communicate this information efficiently, one important thing to focus on is transparency. I plan to create an infographic as one part of my deliverables which will summarize my findings in a way that can be easily understood to those with no previous background of water quality monitoring. Advocacy is also a significant part of my research project this summer so I will also be collaborating with UpstreamPgh with their social media presence, whether it is to make an Instagram reel of what I do when sampling or through blog posts such as the one I am writing now. The last and probably most important thing to help my research reach a more broad audience is to maintain the gathering of data and to ensure that there is a continuation of this short-term project for more long-term projects and proposals in this area. I was recently introduced to a graduate student at Penn State and current employee of the Health Department in the Air Quality program. Our research interests overlap within a restorative and ecological lens of Fern Hollow. Her research will advance into August as I begin to wrap up my project meaning that our collaboration will ensure credibility and continuation of the collection of this valuable data.
I am looking forward to the rest of this summer and what this project will shape up to be!