Meet the Team: Research Technician
12th February 2015
Here’s the first in a new series of posts where you can meet the Freshwater Habitats Trust team. Meet our Research Technician
Tell me your name…
And your job title?
What does that involve?
There are two elements: some field work to collect water samples, and the lab analysis. I analyse the water I have collected for sediment, phosphorus and nitrate. I also analyse water samples collected weekly by autosampling equipment. I’m out in the field about once a fortnight, a long long day, and then 3-4 days per week in the lab. It’s for the Water Friendly Farming project, and I occasionally carry out bits of analysis for other projects.
What’s so important about that?
It tells us how much pollution is running off farmland into water. The nitrates mostly come from fertilisers. The phosphorus is from farming and sewage treatment works that discharge into streams. The pollution encourages growth of algae, leads to eutrophication. Wildlife is affected.
The Water Friendly Farming project is looking at how different ways of handling water on farmland affects the levels of pollution in streams and ponds. I measure just how much of a difference it makes. We have started getting some interesting results.
What is your favourite part of your job?
Walking round the countryside collecting water samples, being outside amongst nature.
And least favourite?
Washing up! Endless washing up of lab equipment.
Why do you do it? What do you get out of it, and what keeps you going through the hard days?
I enjoy the work, it is scientifically relevant and interesting and encompasses values that are close to my heart. I like what the Water Friendly Farming project is trying to do. The mix of science and protecting nature, the variety, it’s good. I like to get out in the field, and coming back in to the lab.
What does freshwater wildlife mean to you?
It’s an area that is often forgotten about. Everyone cares about the furry things, they get lots of publicity, but no one knows much about freshwater. I feel it is neglected but it is so important.
What’s your favourite freshwater habitat?
I quite like how it all feeds into each other. There isn’t one favourite; I like the streams because that is what I am working on. I like it all.
What got you interested in freshwater habitats?
It’s an area I find interesting but I was working towards a career in blood actually, and sort of side stepped by chance into this and found a passion for it.