Research in the Mill River

18 Sep

Hi, my name is Mia and I am a junior at Smith College. I am studying biology with a concentration in cells, physiology and development. In my free-time I really enjoy tutoring/teaching younger children in mathematics and science-related fields. I am primarily interested in doing research in neurophysiology; however, this summer I was fortunate enough to work on a project that is outside of my regular studies.


Smith is proposing to install a sluice gate at Paradise Pond in efforts to find a more cost-efficient method to dredge the pond. This summer, I worked with Marney Pratt and Molly Peek to investigate whether the sluice gate will harm the biodiversity and abundance of the macroinvertebrates in the Mill River. I was able to use the skills I developed from former biology classes to determine whether the river is in good health using diversity and abundance as criteria.

We collected macroinvertebrates using two methods: D net kick sampling and Hester-Dendy substrate sampling. Both methods were extremely new to me and I enjoyed familiarizing myself with something I had not yet even heard about. Both methods often required canoeing and wading in the Mill River, which was also an entirely new experience for me. After spending a few weeks taking samples and collecting the macroinvertebrates, we preserved and identified them with dichotomous keys. This was important in order to determine the diversity and abundance of each genus. We have yet to finish identifying the macroinvertebrates; however, so far we have found that each site that we tested along the Mill River is relatively diverse. Though I didn’t engage in research in an area where I am most comfortable, I have really appreciated the opportunity to learn so many new and interesting things.

-Mia Ndama, ’17 is  from Indianapolis, Indiana and lives in Northrop House. She is a biology major concentrating in cells, physiology, and development. She enjoys playing badminton and teaching herself new instruments in her free time.

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