Student Spotlight: Madeline Marchiafava, UW-Eau Claire

Minnesota native Madeline Marchiafava graduated from UW-Eau Claire in December 2022 with a dual major in geology and an emphasis in water chemistry and biology.

Through the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin, she had the opportunity to complete an internship at the Environmental Research and Innovation Center (ERIC) at UW Oshkosh. From May to September 2022, 22 students from UW-Eau Claire, UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW Oshkosh, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Stout and UW-Whitewater worked in the ERIC and its community embedded labs, analyzing 2,200 water samples for business and community partners.

Here’s what Marchiafava said about her experience.

What projects did you work on and what skills did you gain from that work?

I wanted to work in the ERIC because I wanted to gain experience in a professional setting focused on the environment, and to broaden my knowledge in the water sciences.

Some projects I worked on while at the ERIC were a study on microcystin, analyzing water samples for arsenic using the GFAA [Graphite Furnace Atomic Absorption spectroscopy, which is a sensitive analytical method for measuring trace elements], and collecting gas readings of waste from clients who are interested in seeing how productive their samples are.

Were there benefits to working in a lab at a different university?

Madeline Marchiafava learned real-world skills in water sample analysis.

The benefits of working in a lab at a different university were seeing a different part of Wisconsin that I haven’t previously been to, and I met and worked with new people. Along with spending time on the boat collecting water samples and visiting lots of different water bodies in the area, my favorite part of this research experience was joining my coworkers’ volleyball league every Thursday night — I had a great time learning a new sport.

What kind of career do you hope to go into after graduation?

After graduation, I hope to be involved in field work or wildlife surveying with either the Wisconsin or Minnesota Department of Natural Resources or with the U.S. Geological Survey.