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National Conference on Undergraduate Research

The National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) is a conference welcoming research from innovative and creative undergraduate students. Undergraduate researchers with accepted proposals can participate in oral, poster, visual art, and performance presentations during the conference. This year’s NCUR will feature 4 students from NC State’s Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources: Jamie Cochran, Duncan Anderson, Daniel Amparo, and Theresa Flood.

Jamie Cochran

Student Research:

Jamie Cochran

Title: Tree seedling survival in soils irrigated with municipal wastewater

Research Summary: North Carolina has multiple municipalities that treat municipal wastewater by land applying wastewater to forest plantations. After twenty years of treating municipal wastewater, most facilities are nearing the end of their high-water capacity usage causing many sites to harvest and re-plant forest stands. However, soil conditions may have changed after twenty years of irrigation causing re-establishment to be problematic. Tree seedlings may not survive due either to soil conditions, irrigation with wastewater, or weed control. Jamie’s research project evaluates the survival of loblolly pine seedlings at the land treatment site in Jacksonville, NC in relation to prior irrigation of soils or pine families. This project has important implications for the continued use of wastewater irrigation in pine plantations and will contribute to a better understanding of which pine families have better survival rates under wastewater irrigated or previously wastewater irrigated conditions.

Theresa Flood and Daniel Amparo

Daniel Amparo and Theresa Flood

Title: How Hurricane Florence Wasted Us

Research Summary: Daniel and Theresa’s research addresses contributions of waste and wastewater discharges to surface waters during and after Hurricane Florence. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality collected and organized information containing confirmed waste discharges in North Carolina as a result of Hurricane Florence. This information was categorized using the N.C. Division of Environmental Quality Hurricane Incident Tracking Application. The findings are presented with ARC-GIS to geographically show the sites and types of discharge. This information can be used to predict future discharges from hurricanes and tropical storms in the future.

Duncan Anderson

Duncan Anderson

Title: Would You Eat Crops Grown From Wastewater? A Qualitative Assessment of Chemical Uptake from Irrigated Wastewater.

Research Summary: Duncan’s project included investigating the effects on hydrology and pine growth of the wastewater treatment and reuse system in Jacksonville, NC. Excess wastewater can be used to irrigate crops and other natural areas during droughts, but this wastewater may contain chemicals the treatment process wasn’t designed to eliminate, for example lauryl sulfate, which is common in products like shampoo. Duncan examined which chemicals were present in the wastewater that could in turn by taken up by crops. Many chemicals found in these biological waste reuse systems have not been fully examined yet for any human health impacts, so understanding which ones could end up in the food products we consume is important.