The April 7 edition of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune included a profile of Erika Wertz and her Honors Senior Project studying the history of severe floods on the Red River of the North. Erika has been part of our research group since her freshman year and it's tough to imagine how we'll get along without her once she graduates in May.
For her Honors Project, I asked Erika to figure out if severe Red River floods like the ones that occurred in 1997 and 2009 left behind an anatomical 'fingerprint' in the rings of oak trees growing along the river. She took complete charge of the project by drafting a proposal, contacting stakeholders and executing a 2-week sampling program that took her from the headwaters of the river to the Canada-US border. Once she was back at the U, Erika was able to prove that these trees do preserve a flood record within their rings, and we're optimistic that this tool can help hydrologists understand how and why the frequency of major floods changes through time.
Erika is headed out west next month to start a position with the Colorado State Forest Service and while we're all going miss her, we're also excited to see where her career takes her after Minnesota.