Paola Miramontes Gonzalez

McNair Scholar
Headshot of Paola Miramontes Gonzalez


Major: Environmental Science, Biology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Joanna Blaszczak

Research Topic: Impacts of Urbanization on Stream Water Quality in Semi-arid Climate

Abstract: Increasing urbanization has caused streams to become heavily degraded and polluted. This is known as urban stream syndrome which varies with the level of urbanization and stream morphology (Walsh et al. 2005). Along with this, climate, directly and indirectly, impacts stream ecosystem processes, however, precipitation patterns vary significantly between temperate (mild temperature) areas and arid (dry) regions. The variation in flow due to changing precipitation patterns along with urbanization causes elevated concentrations of nutrients and ions (Hale et al., 2016). In urban areas, lawn irrigation and leaking pipes can increase base flow but contain different chemical compositions than the water obtained from precipitation (Fillo et al., 2021). The majority of research on urban streams has been done in temperate climates, leaving a gap in research on how urbanization chemically alters streams in semi-arid climates. This study focuses on understanding how urbanization modifies the chemical composition of streams in Reno, Nevada which has a semi-arid climate. We collected samples from an urban stream and a non-urban stream distributed longitudinally along each stream throughout the summer. We then interpreted stable isotope signatures from the samples along with various contamination sources and analyzed stream sediment from the urban and non-urban streams. The results of this study will provide important information about the contribution of contaminants due to urbanization in streams which can have complex ramifications on wildlife and ecosystems on environments where water is a scarce, yet vital resource.

New Scholar: 2021 cohort

Graduating with a Baccalaureate Degree: 2024