Faces of GIAR: Skye-Anne Tschoepe

October 31, 2022


Grant: $1,000 in 2020 

Education level at the time of the grant: Undergraduate student

Project Description:
Salt-laden storm water runoff has infiltrated the South Fork New River (SFNR) watershed in Boone, North Carolina, as the area has become more urban. In this study, I have created a mass-balance of a system designed to mitigate the impact of storm water runoff: a constructed bioretention wetland. The data will allow me to examine the salinity gradient between the bioretention wetland and the adjacent SFNR throughout each season, including salt loading through the winter and freshening through the spring and summer.

With the funds from the Grants in Aid of Research award, a groundwater monitoring well was installed between the bioretention wetland and the SFNR. This well allows for a more accurate representation of the loss of salt from the wetland into groundwater. In addition to electrical conductivity loggers in the wetland and regular hand measurements from the stream up and downstream of the wetland, a complete mass-balance of the system will be constructed. Overall, this project will allow for an assessment of the effectiveness of this storm water management system in Boone and contribute to our understanding of watershed preservation.


How did the grant process or the project itself influence you as a scientist/researcher? 
It prompted me to evaluate my project through a lens of broader significance to my community. Prior to engaging in this grant process, I was already certain of my interest in water quality, but I had spent more time and energy designing the project than considering exactly how my project would benefit Boone and similar urban watersheds. This project has enriched my understanding of and passion for what it means to be an Earth scientist.

Where are you now? 
I am in my senior year at Appalachian State University, entering the more rigorous portion of my coursework and collecting data for this project.

What is one piece of advice or tip you would give to future grant applicants? 
Prioritize research that will be meaningful to your community, whether local, national, or global, rather than conducting research for the sake of being published.


Students may apply for Sigma Xi research grants by March 15 and October 1 annually at www.sigmaxi.org/giar.

More About Sigma Xi: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is the world’s largest multidisciplinary honor society for scientists and engineers. Its mission is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. Sigma Xi chapters can be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers around the world. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members. The Society is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. www.sigmaxi.org. On Twitter: @SigmaXiSociety