Lessons from the Research Lab: Lorelay Mendoza

Lorelay Mendoza
ReNUWIt’s Research Experience for Undergraduates Program
University of California, Berkeley

During my first weekend in the Bay Area, I took a motorcycle safety course, where I learned the basics of riding. When I started the first day, I didn’t even know how to turn the bike on. Soon enough, though, I was handling turns and other maneuvers pretty well—except for the instance where I dropped the bike, but we don’t speak of such things. It has been a goal of mine to get a motorcycle license, and being away from home for the summer has not deterred me.

I have spent two weeks in Berkeley so far, and it has been a fantastic learning experience already. I am participating in a summer research experience for undergraduates (REU) called Reinventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt). This program operates in four campuses: Colorado School of Mines, New Mexico State University, Stanford University and UC Berkeley. Coincidentally, my SDSU lab mate and dear friend, Anita Sanchez, was also selected for the program at Berkeley, so it’s as though I brought a piece of home with me.

The main objective of the program is to improve the way we manage urban water, specifically enhancing the efficiency of water distribution systems, water and wastewater treatment plants, and other systems. My project this summer studies the microbial water quality of intermittent water supply, which is water that is not running 24/7. This is a critical issue in developing countries, but also happens on a smaller scale in the United States. For example, our kitchen sinks aren’t always running, which means the water in the pipes have had some time to sit. There aren’t a whole lot of studies that look into the microbial ecology of drinking water pipes, so we aim to fill that knowledge gap.

When I am not in the lab, Anita and I hang out with the other two Berkeley REUs. Tvetene studies civil engineering at the University of Alaska Anchorage (he would like you all to know that he is enjoying sleeping in the dark here in California), and Mhara is a chemical engineering student at Oregon State University. We have rock-climbed together and hiked to see beautiful views of the bay, but lately our favorite way to spend time together is taking walks after dinner and eating loquats off the trees in people’s front yards.

Originally published by SDSU News Team


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