Biology and ecology PDRF Beth Ogata said she was initially drawn to USU to work with faculty adviser Michelle Baker, because of the exciting opportunity to be part of an interdisciplinary group of researchers focused on water sources.
Specifically, Ogata’s research involves studying stream nutrient dynamics along an urbanization gradient. Ogata tests whether nitrogen and phosphorous limit algal growth, as well as if urbanization alleviates nutrient limitation of stream biofilms.
“I am interested in algal nutrient uptake response to elevated nutrient concentrations, and would like to assess how nutrient saturation points may differ between mountain and urban biofilms,” she said.
Currently, her work is focused on the Logan River and involves deploying nutrient diffusing substrates in the river to assess the nutrient limitation status of biofilms in mountain and urban environments. She is also working on a stream mesocosm experiment this summer.
Originally a native of Winnetka, Illinois, Ogata completed her undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Despite experiencing a “climate shock” upon first coming out west to Utah, she immediately fell in love with the mountains and surrounding areas.
“I knew I wanted to spend my time here,” she said. “I really like the desert in southern Utah and contrasting mountains here. I like biking and just going on dirt roads and exploring, so it’s a good fit for me.”
Through the PDRF program, Ogata has been able to collaborate with many people within her field of discipline.
“I have really enjoyed meeting and working with other researchers who are also interested and passionate about water and nutrients,” Ogata said.
Her fieldwork has allowed her to travel throughout Utah on an array of projects, and has been one of the best parts about her research, she said. Ogata has waded in streams and explored the different areas rivers flow through, canoed the Jordan River with a lab mate, worked with iUtah (a NSF EPSCOoR project), conducted research in Moab, collected nutrient samples on the Great Salt Lake and even participated in a banding project with some feisty pelicans.
Ogata said she hopes the research she’s involved with will eventually make an impact on others in the future.
“Water is such an important resource,” she said. “I hope that the good scientific knowledge we learn can help resource managers better improve the water sustainability and make informed scientific decisions through water quality.”