Understanding the Zebra Mussels Threat

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Zebra mussels are a kind of plague. They have a huge impact on boats. One guy was saying it was only a couple of
years ago that this wasn’t an issue, and then all of a sudden they’re everywhere. They multiply and clog pipes like cholesterol. They’ve gotten into the intake pipes for the City of Austin water supply, water coming out of
their sinks and showers smelled really bad today. Yeah, it did. And Austin Water says zebra mussels at
their water treatment plant are to blame. We’re collecting zebra mussel samples, and
then we’re going to analyze them in the lab, and also we’re analyzing the water quality
samples to see if there’s any correlation. We have samplers out at three private
marinas that we leave out for about a month and then go back and scrape off all the baby
mussels and come back to the lab and count them. I’m really happy that UT is out here researching this problem. I think the entire world is going
to benefit. We go out to the private marina sites, you
know, they’re always like, “Have you solved it yet?” Well, that’s not actually, you know,
the project that we’re doing. I would love to find a way to cure them, but
that’s in the future. Right now, I’m just seeing what level of the
problem is right now. This is providing that sort of baseline data
that would let you then, you know, develop a model of spread or let you sort of make some
predictions into the future about what might happen. It’s a lot of experience that just most first
years don’t get, so by the time you’re going into your upper undergrad or graduate school,
you don’t really have the experience to do research on your own. It gave me that opportunity to do my own projects
and take the initiative to just start everything from scratch and do it all myself. I learn a lot of things like about research
here that are just universally applicable to any type of lab. Most of the time when people are doing research,
you don’t get to do your own stuff until grad school. So I get to see if that’s something that I
actually want to do later on right now. It’s real research. It’s not just sort of learning how to do it. I mean, they are, they are doing it, which
is really amazing.


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