Megan Fork is a first-year PhD student in the Heffernan Lab in the Nicholas School of the Environment. She is excited to be blogging this year, and sharing her knowledge, viewpoints and experiences about doing science as a PhD student in the Nic School.
Megan Fork grew up among the kettles and moraines of southeastern Wisconsin. She studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, graduating with degrees in Biological Aspects of Conservation, Zoology, and Theatre & Drama. Fantastic courses in limnology and stream ecology, taught by Emily Stanley, set her on the path of studying freshwaters. A summer spent working in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem studying interactions between bark beetles, their host trees, and fire regimes, under the direction of PhD students from the labs of Monica Turner and Ken Raffa, convinced her that field biology was the right direction, and that science is awesome.
Megan spent the year after earning her Bachelor’s of Science overseas in New Zealand. She worked as a volunteer on organic farms through WWOOF and for the New Zealand Department of Conservation for several months before starting as a research technician in the Freshwater Ecology Research Group at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. There, she worked on a project investigating how stream size affects the signals and impacts of land-use change in new dairy farms (but she did get to spend some time hiking the mountains, too).
After returning to the U.S., Megan began a Master’s degree in the Heffernan Lab at Florida International University. Her thesis project asked about the nature of coupling between carbon and nitrogen cycles in northern Florida rivers. Specifically, she found that rivers with high concentrations of dissolved organic carbon support fewer aquatic plants, which in turn decreases the efficiency of nitrate removal. For the interested, her thesis can be found in the FIU Digital Commons, here.
Megan hopes to take on wider spatial scales in her PhD project, examining the whether concentrations of dissolved organic carbon, documented to be rising in high latitudes, are also on the rise in more southern regions of the U.S. She also hopes to investigate the causes and consequences of this aspect of global change.
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