Skip to main content

Shannon Bensetler '15

The Impact of Land Preservation on Water Quality in the Lehigh River

Major/minor: Biology
Hometown: Cresskill, New Jersey
Project mentor: Dr. Frank Kuserk

Project Details:

  1. Briefly describe your SOAR project.
    This project is actually a small portion of a very big project. Both field and lab work was done to look at different sites on the Lehigh River watershed and see what benthic macroinvertebrate, which are underwater bugs without a backbone visible by the naked eye, and fish species inhabit the area. Every species of fish and macroinvertebrates have a specific tolerability to pollution and depending on which species are seen at the sites, water quality can be seen. For example, there are a lot of pollution intolerant organisms, the water quality must be good because these species cannot survive in bad water. 
  2. What motivated you to participate in SOAR? 
    I had heard about a similar SOAR project done the year before and it really intrigued me. I had experience doing lab work, but being able to do outdoor field work was something I wanted to experience.
  3. What are the results of your work on this project? 
    Since this project was a small part of a very large project, major results were not seen, and will not been seen for a while. However, comparisons can be done of the sites we did get to visit. Also, future years can look back at the work done and be able to do further comparisons and see if the water quality over the years is increasing or decreasing, and figure out factors to help with bettering the water. 
  4. What are your personal takeaways from the project? And do you plan to continue work on this project after SOAR? 
    I really got a lot out of the project. I enjoyed doing both the field work of getting samples, and analyzing them in the lab. I learned about macroinvertebrates and fish along the way too. I also went to the Landmark Conference, and am planning on going to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), which was a great experience. I am continuing my SOAR project as a part of a Independent Study in Fall 2014, and one day, I’d like a career similar to the research I participated in for SOAR.

Biographical Information:

  1. What clubs/sports/activities/community service are you involved in? 
    I work in Animal Facilities in the biology department, working with every aspect from snakes to mice and everything in between.
  2. Briefly, what are your future plans and career goals? 
    I’d like to work with animals in some way as a career, preferably in a conservation setting. I’d like to be able to conduct research, too, to help in the conservation of animals.