Meet Jackie Saunders, IWRC Research Assistant – 2016


Hi, my name is Jackie Saunders and I am a student at Nipissing University. I finished my second year of a BSc in Environment and Physical Geography this past spring and was hired as a research assistant by Dr. April James in the Integrative Watershed Research Center (IWRC). As I am fairly new at this and lack more specialized education on many of the projects that the center is concerned with, I am only able to do certain jobs or need the guidance of more senior co-workers. However, there are projects that I am given independently.

My main project this summer is updating a description of our regional climate for the first Lake Nipissing State of the Basin report – using weather data from local weather stations. We do have occasional trips into the field for various projects.  I have been out in the field collecting water samples for chemical analysis from many of the rivers and creeks that flow into Lake Nipissing and helping other co-workers with their own projects. One of the bigger projects involves working with the lake buoys, two buoys that have different types of sensors attached to them that measure different aspects of water quality. These buoys are set up on Lake Nipissing from May to October and give us a continuous record of the different parameters they measure such as temperature, pH, conductivity, etc. This project is giving me experience in the process of setting up the buoys with all their components to make sure they run smoothly, and when they don’t, we had to figure out why and try to fix the problems. I worked on this along with Dr. Krys Chutko, Dr. Dan Walters and another research assistant Kyle Wittmaier.

I find this work very interesting and count myself lucky that I was able to get this job for the summer. The experience I am getting here will be very useful for my remaining years of study in my BSc program and for future employment in similar positions. I like all the tasks I’ve gotten to be a part of but I must say that I  enjoy the field work the most, getting out on the lake to deploy the buoys and driving all over collecting water samples are fun times to get out of the office and enjoy the day with my co-workers.