Student Research at BC  

Boston College

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences


Environmental Studies Program

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Current Student Research
Keila Munz ('15)

Keila Munz is a senior at Boston College studying Environmental Geoscience and Biology. This summer she worked as an undergraduate research assistant to Professor Gabrielle David, conducting research on how stream discontinuities, including man-made dams and beaver dams, influence the movement and the biogeochemical cycling of materials in small streams in Massachusetts. For her senior thesis, Keila is using these data to look at how sediment distribution is affected by different stream blockages, including wood jams, beaver dams, and manmade dams.

Lauren DeVito ('15)

Lauren DeVito is a senior studying environmental geoscience at Boston College. She worked as an undergraduate research assistant studying how stream discontinuities including man-made dams and beaver dams influence the movement and biogeochemical cycling of materials in small streams in Massachusetts. The study focused on a number of variables to indicate stream health. Lauren focused on dissolved oxygen and nutrients as indicators of water quality. The purpose of her study was to make comparisons between how dissolved oxygen levels varied throughout streams obstructed by beaver dams with streams that were obstructed by manmade dams. Her research questions include how dissolved oxygen content varies in man-made dams as opposed to beaver dams and if geomorphic variability plays a role. She focuses on investigating how dissolved oxygen content varies in pools and riffles and around large wood upstream and downstream of dam locations.

Past Student Research
Rhianna James ('14)

Senior thesis title: "Recruitment of In-Channel Wood in a Dammed River in Coastal Maine, USA"

Rhianna James used a combination of air photos and field data to investigate the current sources of in-channel wood recruitment on the Mousam River in coastal Maine, as well as the impact of river planform change over time on wood recruitment. She found that the main source of wood were from landslides and undercut banks. Channel changes, that were observed by analyzing aerial photos in ArcGIS, were from the construction a dam on the Mousam River. Aerial photo analysis revealed that despite increased urbanization in the watershed since 1940, the riparian area has actually experienced forest regrowth. Wood loads in the Mousam river were fround to be lower than other Maine streams, 0.0001 m3 m-2 versus 0.0009 m3 m-2 (Magilligan et al., 2007), and significantly lower than what is found in other regions of the U.S. including the Pacific Northwest (4.7 m3m-2), the Southeast (1.2 m3 m-2), Upper Midwest (0.9 m3 m-2), and West (1.8 m3 m-2) (Cordova et al., 2007). Rhianna presented her results at the Spring 2014 Northeast GSA meeting in Lancaster, PA.

Rhianna James at NE GSA

Rhianna James presenting her research results at the 2014 NE GSA conference in Lancaster, PA.
Click on image to access a PDF of the poster.


Cordova, J.M., Rosi-Marshall E.J., Yamamuro, A.M., Lamberti, G.A., 2007. Quality, controls and functions of large woody debris in Midwestern USA streams. River Research and Applications 23:21-33.

Magilligan, F.J., Nislow, K.H., Fisher, G.B., Wright, J., Mackey, G., Laser, M., 2007. The geomorphic function and characteristics of large woody debris in low gradient rivers, coastal Maine, USA. Geomorphology 97:467-482.



Surveying on Pearl Hill Brooke

Keila Munz ('15)surveying on Pearl Hill Brook in Massachusetts
Keila Munz is a senior researcher who is investigating differences in sediment movement upstream and downstream of beaver and man-made dams. She has become proficient at conducting geomorphic surveys of the channel bed with a total station.

Surveying on Pearl Hill Brooke

Lauren DeVito ('15) and Grace Lisius ('17) on Pearl Hill Brook, MA
Two Boston College undergraduate students are conducting a geomorphic survey of Pearl Hill Brook to better understand how physical changes in the channel are related to water quality. Lauren holds the prism to assist with surveying the channel bed, while Grace records dissolved oxygen and nutrient concentration with a YSI water quality meter.


Rhianna James

Rhianna James on the Mousam River, ME
Rhianna is preparing to conduct a wood survey of the Mousam River in Maine.