Published: September 22, 2009
While floating on the crew docks on the north side of campus, University
of Tampa professor Steve Hendrix and his student Theresa Hendrick ‘10
hoist an almost 60-pound apparatus out of the Hillsborough River.
a slimy business,” said Hendrix, the apparatus encrusted with algae and
aquatic life. The two had gathered recently to clean the tiny sensor
buried deep within the underwater apparatus.
Installed in late
December, the sensor station monitors water quality and is a
collaboration with the University of South Florida College of Marine
Science/Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System (COMPS). As water
flows toward Tampa Bay, the sensor station uses ultraviolet light to
test for chemicals in the water, which absorb light.
chemistry major, is assisting Hendrix this semester in the study of
water samples collected at the same time as the sensor is testing
samples. The duo complete in-lab testing for nitrates, salinity and
water temperature, hoping to confirm similar results by the sensor to
make sure the apparatus is working properly.
“As scientists, we
want to correlate the data. Are the numbers real?” asked Hendrix, an
associate professor of chemistry. So far, the answer has been yes.
order to do the confirmation, a water sample must be collected by the
crew docks at the same time the sensor is taking a sample, done at 16
minutes and 46 minutes past the hour, every hour.
To help with
this process, Hendrix asked his former student, Hendrick, if she would
be interested in assisting him with the research this year, assisting
with the water testing at times when he has to be teaching and providing
data for ongoing research projects. The public can monitor data from
really excited about it,” said Hendrick who is considering graduate
school and is excited to have the research practice. “I think it’s
really fascinating because in my whole college career I’ve been
learning, learning, learning and now I’m applying it to real-world
The UT station will be integrated into a larger project
by the Oceanic Nutrient Laboratory, which recently collaborated with
Tampa Bay Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS) and the USF
COMPS to monitor nutrients in Tampa Bay. These observing systems are
also integrated with NOAA coastal ocean observing systems (COOS).