Meet Alyson Welch, a third-year undergraduate student at Montana State University and current CREWS innovation and commercialization intern.
Alyson Welch is a third-year undergraduate student at Montana State University studying biological engineering who has spent the year working on a CREWS innovation and commercialization internship with Drs. Wyatt Cross and Robin Gerlach as her advisors. The basis for her internship project is to address the inefficiency of an ecological studies method called invertebrate separation. Ecologists use invertebrate separation, which is typically carried out by handpicking the bugs out of samples under a microscope, to identify the invertebrates in benthic river bottom samples. Identifying the invertebrates in these samples is key for determining the health and status of rivers. To address inefficiencies in this method, Welch is using digital imaging to take pictures of the bugs in the samples. She hopes that by identifying the invertebrates from the images rather than handpicking, this advance will make the method of study much more time-efficient while still remaining cost-effective. When she’s not working on her internship project, Welch enjoys spending her free time outside.