The Sweetgrass Student Research Video Series

In these special video presentations, tribal college students discuss and showcase their biomedical and environmental science research projects.

Modifying Iron Concentration in Wheatgrass

S’Nya Sanchez from United Tribes Technical College, studying environmental science, explored the modification of iron content in wheatgrass, a vital nutritional source for tribal communities. S’Nya was mentored by Dr. Ram Hona.

RNA of Flathead Lake

Courtney Old Chief, a student at Salish Kootenai College, conducted research on the microbial life on the bottom of Flathead Lake. Her mentor was Dr. Christina Rush.

Bats of the Great Plains

In a joint effort, Toni Chalmers and Kaitlyn Mills from United Tribes Technical College spent the summer of 2023 collecting bat specimens in North Dakota. Their research, mentored by Mandy Guinn, focused on understanding how the role of bats is changing as the climate warms.

Mosquito Prevalence and Climate Change

Starla Littlewind, studying pre-engineering at Cankdeska Cikana Community College in Fort Totten, North Dakota, conducted research on mosquito adaptation to climate change around Devil’s Lake. Her professor, Dr. Brent Voels, guided the project.

Pollinator Microbiomes in Indian Country

Derik Bull, a pre-engineering student at Cankdeska Cikana Community College, sampled the microbiomes of pollinators in the northern Great Plains, aiming to understand their adaptation to a changing climate. Dr. Brent Voels provided mentorship.

Arsenic Levels in Apsàalooke Groundwater

“Tennison Big Day, a dedicated student at Montana State University, is highly regarded for his exceptional dance skills within the Apsàalooke (Crow) reservation community. He is actively engaged in research aimed at addressing the environmental hazard posed by arsenic-contaminated groundwater, a critical concern for the Apsàalooke people. Guided by the expertise of his mentor, Dr. Toby Koffman, an assistant research professor at Montana State University, Tennison is committed to making a meaningful impact in mitigating the challenges faced by his community.

The Biochemistry of Hominy

In his biochemistry lab, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe student Robert Pacheco studied the nixtamalization process while making tortillas. He and Professor Harley Fredriksen processed hominy into nada, showcasing how biochemistry is crucial in preserving Indigenous culture and nutrition.

Water Toxin Exploration

Joshua Robinson, a student at Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College, along with environmental science chair Dr. Andrew Kozich, sampled spring and well water around Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. The research aimed to identify, compare, and understand the presence of toxins in these crucial water sources.

Brook Trout Sustainability

Zelina Huhta, with an AIHEC internship and USDA funding, studied the impact of stream water temperatures on the long-term sustainability of brook trout in northern Michigan. Mentored by Dr. Bob Rabin and Dr. Andrew Kozich, Zelina’s work sheds light on the importance of preserving this significant food source for Native communities.

CT Scans for Manufacturing

Through her internship at Navajo Technical University’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing, Deirdra Deswood utilized a CT scanner to inspect additive manufacturing pieces without damaging them. Deirdra and her mentor, Dr. Scott Halliday, believe this technology will be vital to health and economic improvements for Native communities in the future.

Environmental DNA and PCR Protocol

Justice Black Williams of Northwest Indian College sequenced and analyzed environmental DNA, which is an important part of natural resource management in tribal communities in the Pacific Northwest.

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