Outreach Product Draft Part 2

Urea Infographic

Two versions of this infographic illustrating the sources of the urea nutrient in the Chesapeake Bay were created: one to distribute at events and to use in non-scientific presentations and a second to use with a scientific audience. Both will be used teaching a wastewater course to educated individuals in the wastewater industry. For the final version the wastewater icon will be redrawn, as no directly applicable icon was found on IAN.

Outreach Project Draft Part 1

Storyboard for Stable Isotope White Board Video

A short video explaining how scientists use stable isotopes to study nutrient pollution. This will be done as a white board video. Below is the storyboard and proposed script for the video.

  1. Marine scientists study a wide range of organisms and processes in coastal estuaries. Some study fish (point to fish), others study macrofauna like sea grass (point to seagrass).

  1. And some study plankton that you can barely see (zoom to zoo- and phytoplankton).

  1. Marine chemists study chemical compounds in the water and inside the organisms living in the estuaries. Nutrients are a specific group of chemicals that phytoplankton use as food. This food can come from a wide range of places.

  1. They can come from their neighbors (chomp!).

  1. They can come from the local wastewater treatment facility (wastewater outflow), and they can come from the fields that the you and I get our food from (field with rain storm flowing water into river).

  1. Scientists are curious about know where the food for all the hungry phytoplankton come from and which ones they like to eat (Happy/sad phytoplankton).

  1. To figure it out some marine scientist use stable isotopes. Most elements have a set number of protons and neutrons. Each molecule of nitrogen has 7 neutrons and 7 protons, this is nitrogen 14… but almost 0.4% of all nitrogen molecules have an extra neutron, nitrogen 15.

  1. Scientists can track where the phytoplankton’s food comes from based on how much 14N and 15N is inside it.

  1. The fertilizer from the field has more of one type and the wastewater has more of another.

  1. When we look at the phytoplankton we can see a mixture that can tells us where the food is coming from.

Repeat panel #8

  1. This is important because many waterways are undergoing a process of eutrophication, which often happens when there is too much food for phytoplankton.

  1. This causes phytoplankton rapidly grow, which can cause problems for other organisms living in the water (dead fish).

  1. Using isotopes, we can figure out where that extra food is coming from so that managers know how to best take care of the bay.

Outreach Product Proposal

Nutrients help fuel marine primary production and urea is an important dissolved organic nitrogen source. The understanding how urea cycles in estuarine environments is the underlying concept of my research. In the marine environment, urea originates from a mixture of natural and anthropogenic sources. Natural sources include bacterial release and excretion from zooplankton or fish, while human-based sources include wastewater effluent, industrial waste, and fertilizer runoff. In recent years, the human input has grown considerably, especially in reference to fertilizer usage. I propose to create both an infographic and a short film that will introduce stakeholders and the general public to urea sources and how it is studied.

The infographic I plan to create will explain the sources of urea and why we care about estuarine urea loading. The infographic will be visual, with cartoon representations of human and natural sources feeding with arrows into a river. The first version will include 2-3 short facts to engage the audience as to why urea sources are important in coastal marine ecosystems. I plan to make this version broad enough to distribute to the public events such as VIMS Marine Science Day, at HRSD, or online. The infographic will be constructed using Adobe Illustrator and InDesign. With this outreach product, I hope to expand public knowledge and awareness of sources of urea in coastal ecosystems beyond just excretion.

An additional version will be created to illustrate the same sources feeding into a chemical diagram of the urea cycle. This version will allow me to present the results of my dissertation work to an academic audience. My dissertation includes analysis of the sources of urea in the York River, VA and this infographic will be useful for scientific presentations.

Isotope tracing is a staple method of my research and is used for both uptake rates and tracing nutrient sources. This is a complex concept that can be difficult to convey to an audience without a chemistry background. The second outreach product I plan to create is a short educational video on isotope tracing. This video will explain how naturally occurring stable isotopes may be utilized to trace sources of compounds based on differences in natural abundances.

The video will give a brief explanation of isotopes and how they can be present in different amounts. I hope to design this video to mirror the aforementioned infographic. Using colors to represent the different isotopes I will use urea sources as an example. I will then show the isotope “colors” being consumed by a phytoplankton. This video will be made as a short (2-minute max) whiteboard animation that will be distributed via social media and uploaded to YouTube.