Mooney was scheduled to present her report, titled “Isolating In-situ Carbonate in Lake Sediment Cores to Improve Climate Interpretations: A Method Development Project,” at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) this spring before it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mooney’s goal in her project was to isolate authigenic (in-situ) carbonate found in lake sediment from detrital carbonate to be able to reconstruct past climate trends. To accomplish this, Mooney had to bleach and sieve the sediment that came from Lake Morrison in the Medicine Lodge area.
Mooney gained assistance from Montana Western professor Dr. Spruce Schoenemann who helped her apply for the Award for Research in Engineering and Science (ARES) grant from the Montana Space Grant Consortium (MSGC) in December of 2018. Along with the grant, Dr. Schoenemann assisted Mooney with the method development as well as involving her in several other climate modeling projects.
“Following data from the lab to final figures is so fascinating. All of those hours in the lab prepping, drying, bleaching, and sieving the dirt comes back with an amazing story,” Mooney said.
Not all parts of the process went according to plan. Mooney explained, “The wet sediment did not take the bleach treatment as well as the dry sediment, so we had to go through again with a totally new approach.”
As a transfer student from the University of Montana, Mooney credits Montana Western’s unique Experience One (X1) program for allowing her to gain real world experience in her field of study. This opportunity, along with her background in mapping charcoal deposits and a fascination with climate, all came together for her project.
“Experience One has allowed me to fully immerse myself into my courses,” said Mooney.
The University of Montana Western is the only public four-year university in the country to offer Experience One, where students take one course at a time for 18 days, take a short break and then move on to their next course. Experiential learning opportunities, including conferences, internships, and research projects, provide students at Montana Western with real world experiences and professional connections in their fields of study.
For more information about the University of Montana Western and Experience One, visit umwestern.edu or call 877-683-7331.