2007 Student-Faculty Fellows: Valparaiso University

Joint Project: “Contrasts and Similarities in Water Quality Issues Facing East Central China and Northwest Indiana: Issues, Perceptions, and Approaches for Resolutions”

Mentor: Jonathan Schoer
Students: Jeffrey Field, Sarah Mohlman, Shelly Schmeltz


Project Abstract

During the summer of 2007, three students and their mentor traveled to the Hangzhou area of Zhejiang province to undertake a joint project to perform water quality research and to conduct a survey on Chinese perceptions regarding water management. The results of the preliminary analysis of our data suggest that water quality in the Hangzhou area is generally fairly good for surface waters in areas in close proximity to heavy industry and intensive agriculture. This is a surprising result in light of the reported difficulties that China is having with nitrogen, phosphorous, and heavy metal loading of their waterways and may reflect the efforts being independently made in Zhejiang province and especially in the Hangzhou area to improve the water quality. However, a return visit to repeat the experiments in the near future will help confirm these changes. The results of the survey suggest that the attitudes of water management experts in China are similar to those in the U.S., but that on an individual basis there is still a perception that water is an expendable resource. As a result of this experience, the mentor plans to continue this project and has already secured the bulk of the support necessary for a second year of research.

Jeffrey Field

This past summer, I had the privilege of participating in a collaborative research project in Hangzhou, China with other Valparaiso University students and Professor Jon Schoer. This trip was very influential in helping determine the path I would like to take in water resource management on a watershed scale. An important skill that I continued to develop was public speaking. I also benefited from learning about a different culture.

Sarah Mohlman

In June 2007, I had the opportunity to conduct research in Hangzhou, China with two fellow Valparaiso University students and Professor Jon Schoer, courtesy of a Freeman Foundation-funded ASIANetwork grant. The focus of our research was water quality issues in East Central China. I was fascinated to interview Chinese citizens of many social and economic backgrounds, and their openness with me gave insight into Chinese perceptions across several socioeconomic class levels. Through our work with collaborators at Zhejiang University, I was also able to get a firsthand view of the Chinese approach to research. My experience in China helped me to understand a culture very different from my own. Many of my misconceptions about Asia were cleared up, and I was able to gain an appreciation for a friendly people with a very long cultural history.

Shelly Schmeltz

I was given the opportunity, as part of a research team, to conduct surface water quality research in and around Zhejiang province, China. We not only tested the water, but also met with environmental officials to learn more about their practices and ideas on water quality. We were given many wonderful opportunities to speak with Chinese citizens about water quality. I was amazed at how passionate many were and how concerned they were about changes during the past ten years. The opportunity to see a new water quality monitoring station was a wonderful way to learn about the drive in present day China to improve water quality. The research experience was more than water research; it was an enlightening visit into a culturally different and unique country.