Cyanobacteria blooms, organisms that interact with them targeted in study with larger purpose

Katie Sweeney pours lake water into a collection vessel.
Katie Sweeney takes a water sample from Vancouver Lake.

During a downpour in mid-September, Katie Sweeney, outfitted in rain pants, boots and a raincoat, knelt down on a dock at the Vancouver Lake Sailing Club and started collecting water samples.

Since May, Sweeney has made this a biweekly routine as part of her graduate studies at Washington State University Vancouver while she pursues a master’s degree in environmental science. Sweeney focuses on smaller organisms in Vancouver Lake, and their interactions with cyanobacteria blooms.

It just so happens that cyanobacteria blooms have been present at and closed Vancouver Lake this year, so the public also has an interest in the same things she does.

“We always have an interest in these sort of things scientifically, but it’s always really when cool when the public starts to take notice, and become interested in the science behind it,” Sweeney said. “It’s enlightening or endearing that somebody outside is interested in what you do.”

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The Columbian