The Water Around Us

Connect with water scientists to learn about how plant, animal, and human interactions impact water ecosystems.

The interactive video calls were held in March and April 2020.

Students connected with University of Florida Water Ecologists and graduate students researching urban water sheds, nutrient cycling, food webs, and more!

Where do water ecologists work? What do they do? How do they solve problems? Why do they study water? How does water quality and cycling impact me?
In this tour, you will visit real-world research labs and field sites where scientists research urban water, nutrients cycling and water contaminants! Scientists will show you around their workspaces, demonstrate how they collect and analyze data, and discuss practical control methods to prevent and protect water quality and even from your own household activities.

This engagement option utilized the Skype in the Classroom virtual field trip model and infrastructure to connect university scientists with students for demonstrations, tours of research sites, and two-way synchronous conversation.

Who participated?

Middle and high school students and teachers.

Who were the scientists?

All scientists are within the University of Florida’s Soil and Water Sciences Department:

Dr. AJ Reisinger is an assistant professor of urban soil and water quality, and specializes in the ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry of urban environments. His research focuses on how urban activities affect the level of pollutants in water. His program will cover the following topics:

  1. Nutrient cycling. How do natural processes in the environment affect the movement of nitrogen and phosphorus throughout watersheds?
  2. Water pollution. How the presences of chemicals from personal care products get into and effect water ecosystems.
  3. How behavior change can minimize the amount of contaminants that move from our homes to natural water bodies.

Emily Taylor is a current doctoral student in the Soil and Water Sciences Department working in Dr. Reisinger’s lab. Her research focuses on urban freshwater streams and how urbanization and humans are influencing their freshwater ecosystems. Her program will cover three topics:

  1. The water cycle, with an emphasis on human derived run-off (e.g. stormwater run-off, wastewater discharge, etc.)
  2. Ecosystem metabolism and nutrient cycling
  3. Extreme precipitation and flooding implications of climate change.

Adam Siders is a PhD student in the Soil and Water Sciences Department who is working in Dr. Reisinger’s lab. Before he joined the lab in 2019, he received a master’s degree from Northern Arizona University where he used isotopically labeled leaves from different tree species to measure the transfer of leaf litter (Carbon and Nitrogen) to aquatic insects feeding on the litter. His program will cover three topics:

  1. Understanding the importance of food webs,
  2. Identifying the significant role of organisms on ecosystem functioning,
  3. And understanding the role of ecosystem subsidies.

What were the learning objectives?

After participating in Scientist Online: The Water Around Us, students will be able to:

  • Describe the relationship between plants, animals, and human interactions with water ecosystems
  • Define an urban watershed
  • Explain three ways you can apply water conservation practices in your own home
  • Discuss what a water scientist does

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