Newswise — The Geosciences Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research announced the 2021 awardees for excellence in student research:

  • Zoe Lacey (Trinity University, San Antonio)
  • Hanna Szydlowski (Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI)

Starting in spring 2020, Zoe Lacey (class of 2021, Trinity University) developed a reactive transport model to describe the biogeochemical controls on the mobility of trace elements in an aquifer contaminated by crude oil. Lacey created a new model framework for describing how carbonate minerals can adsorb trace elements in aquifer environments, demonstrating ingenuity, perseverance, sophisticated knowledge of (bio)geochemistry, and advanced coding skills. Her results are applicable to thousands of aquifers contaminated by organic carbon and suggest novel geochemical approaches for remediating trace elements in groundwater. Her research is reflected in a senior thesis that will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication. Lacey presented her research at the South-Central Geological Society of America Meeting.

Hanna Szydlowski is a third-year student in geochemistry at Grand Valley State University. Szydlowski's research project tested multiple hypotheses of groundwater aquifer size and travel time using stable isotopes. She monitored groundwater levels and gradients, and stream stage in three small spring-fed streams in Michigan, collecting weekly water samples of precipitation and small spring-fed streams for one year. She then analyzed the data to test two alternative hypotheses of aquifer size, travel time, and mixing rates. Szydlowski presented her research at the 2020 online Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America.

CUR’s Geosciences Division (GeoCUR) gives annual awards to full-time undergraduate students currently enrolled in a two-year or four-year educational institution engaging in research emphasizing the geosciences such as geology, oceanography, and atmospheric sciences.