Hi, my name is Kyle Wittmaier and I have just finished my third year of a BA in Geography with Concurrent Education. I was hired as a research assistant by Dr. Dan Walters. I came into this summer having only limited knowledge regarding practical research and field work from my experience as a student. Most of my responsibilities involve helping professors with their work but I do have some independent responsibilities.
Dr. Walters is involved in water quality and chemical analysis and I have been assisting with collecting samples using Ministry of Environment collecting standards. The samples are sent to the ministry for analysis. I have also been involved in the Bays monitoring project that uses data monitoring buoys. I was involved in prepping and launching the buoys. They contain multiple sensors including a weather station and a sonde that measures parameters such as pH and turbidity. I have learnt a lot about programming and wiring components, as well as troubleshooting when problems arose. I worked with professors, and other undergraduate research assistants Saunders on this project. Now that the buoys have been successfully launched I am involved in taking bi-weekly data downloads and organizing the data. My independent responsibilities include a project using historical aerial photography to monitor wetland loss and water levels around Lake Nipissing. I have collected aerial photography from the years 1977 and 1970 and I am working on georeferencing them so they can be used for analysis.
Overall, this has been a great opportunity for me. I have learnt so much in such a short time and have gained significant practical experience. This experience will help me in my final year of my undergraduate program. Also, I am considering applying for grad school, and this job will help with providing experience and looking great on a CV. My favourite part of the job so far is the field work, and being able to experiment with the monitoring equipment and the programming. Also, being able to work in partnership with my coworkers and the professors and bouncing ideas off each other has taught me a lot.