University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP) trainee Asma El Ouni is leading a pilot-scale in-situ biosequestration project at a former uranium mine site in Monument Valley, Arizona. As part of her most recent sampling effort, on February 14, 2017, El Ouni and her team performed groundwater sampling with the assistance of four members from Navarro Inc., a subcontractor of the Department of Energy. El Ouni also met with a group of environmental science college students from Diné College who visited the site. The students were accompanied by their environmental science instructor and Dr. Jody Waugh who led the field tour. Waugh is an ecologist with Navarro Inc. and an adjunct professor at the nearby Diné College. In her interaction with the students, El Ouni:
- Explained the goal of the project - prevent uranium from going into solution and keep it attached to the sediments as long as possible;
- Described the remediation technique - inject ethanol as a carbon source for microorganisms to enhance their activity; and
- Demonstrated groundwater sampling - emphasize the importance of labeling vials before samples are collection, avoiding cross contamination from the pump tube, collecting duplicates to account for data variability, and storing samples in ice while in the field.
Regarding this unique experience El Ouni stated, “My traineeship has prepared me for the world—with the ability and desire to convey my knowledge in different situations, and at any time, whether talking to professors in my area of expertise, or to the general public. I like using my favorite tool we learned, the elevator pitch, whenever the situation allows it. It works like magic!”