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On the water: Gulf of Mexico and Upper Mississippi beckon researchers this summer

From researching the impact of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to exploring the food web in the Upper Mississippi River, two Minnesota-based teachers are staying busy this summer.

University of Minnesota instructor Robert Gilmer, who will teach “Oil and Water: The Gulf Oil Spill of 2010” in the fall, is blogging about his research as he travels through his home state of Louisiana. Gilmer is working on a Ph.D. in history.

Meanwhile, Prof. Mike Delong of Winona State University is “examining the effect of the complexity of rivers on food web structure,” a project funded by the National Science Foundation, according to a press release from Winona State. “Complexity in this case refers to the abundance of backwaters and secondary channels in a given section of river.” Delong, director of the Large River Studies Center at Winona State, is collecting fish samples today and Tuesday near Winona.

Gilmer’s Aug. 4 post focuses on the loss of wetlands.

“What is obvious is that the loss of 1,900 square miles of wetlands over the last century, due to a combination of regulating the Mississippi River and dredging canals for oil pipelines, has left places like New Orleans 9th Ward more vulnerable than ever when hurricanes do come,” writes Gilmer in his cleverly titled blog: Oil and Water: Coursing Through the Spill. “Living along the southeastern coast of the US has and will always come with a risk of flood and wind damage by hurricanes, but a concerted effort to restore the wetlands that have been lost over the past century could go a long way to making those risks a little less great, and making the lives of those living near the coast a little more bearable.”

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