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JohnPaulBalmonteJohn Paul Balmonte Recieves 2013-2014 Student Impact Award

For the original publication of this article and to see other winners of the 2013 Impact Awards, follow this link.

“While analyzing the microbial ecosystem in the Tar River, John Paul developed new microbial indicators for water quality assessment during hurricane-flood induced environmental perturbation,” said advisor Andreas Teske, Ph.D. “John Paul’s extensive and unusual dataset on hurricane impact on the microbial water quality of North Carolina rivers can be used to help monitor riverine water quality and understand microbial diversity.”

John Paul Balmonte, Marine Sciences

Assessing the Impacts of Hurricanes on Water Quality

In recent decades, tropical storms and hurricanes have brought extensive flooding to eastern North Carolina. Devastation is generally assumed to be obvious to the eye, but powerful storms also can have an impact on river and coastal ecosystems that is not obvious.

In 2011, while many residents of eastern North Carolina fled the ravages of Hurricane Irene, master’s degree student John Paul Balmonte traveled to the affected area—specifically, the Tar River—to collect post-storm water samples to generate an extensive dataset on riverine microbial communities. John Paul’s goal was to learn how a natural disaster could bring about drastic changes to the river ecosystem particularly by investigating alterations in microbial community composition and understanding their implications on water quality.

John Paul’s project involved outreach to 13 middle and high schools located near the Tar and Neuse rivers on how to monitor water quality. His efforts are enhancing a field of research aimed at better understanding how extreme weather events affect the health of North Carolina’s agricultural and recreational waterways.”

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