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2011-2012 Honors Student
Name: Diana Feldmann ’12
Honors in: Environmental Science
Hometown: York, Pa.
Major/minor: Environmental Science/History
Title of project: Alterations in stream discharge patterns in the Lehigh River watershed
Project advisor: Dr. Frank Kuserk
Abstract or brief description: Climate change and urbanization have the potential to dramatically alter a stream’s hydrological patterns, especially the discharge rate. Shifts in these patterns could lead to more severe and more frequent flooding in the future. If changes are occurring, it would be important to manage the risk appropriately. I am examining historic records on seven streams in the Lehigh Valley to see if there is any indication that discharge peak size, peak frequency, peak period duration length, or peak variability are changing over time.
How did you get interested in your topic? I worked with Dr. Diane Husic on the Eastern Pennsylvania Phenology Project through SOAR in summer 2011, and that piqued my interest in how climate shifts can affect ecosystems. I have always had an interest in water ecosystems, so this project seemed like a natural choice.
Do you intend to research your topic further? If so, how? If the opportunity presents itself, I would like to research this further. Many of the current studies on stream hydrology involve modeling. I think modeling what may happen to the Lehigh watershed in the future would be interesting, instead of just looking at what is happening now.
How did you benefit academically by conducting research/participating in honors? I experienced firsthand how demanding independent research is. It is tough transitioning from being told what to read and where to look for information, to controlling what you research. Also, you really have to understand how to present your ideas clearly and succinctly, because you are the one who knows your topic best.
How has the department (or faculty advisor) prepared you for the future? I think I now have a solid background in a variety of environmental issues and understand how interdisciplinary this field really is. I definitely can see the big picture more clearly after studying here.
What advice do you have for other students interested in Honors? Be prepared to work hard, get frustrated, and (hopefully) be rewarded!
My future plans: I hope to join AmeriCorps in the fall, then get involved in environmental education or non-profit work.