It’s not every day Honors College students have their theses published, but for recent Honors College graduate Edward Lo, his efforts to contribute to the protection and restoration of the coastal region received just that.  

Lo’s thesis was published in Geo-Marine Letters, a marine geology journal. It touched on techniques to lessen coastal erosion. 

These techniques include rerouting water, which has matter that settles at the bottom, and utilizing materials that can dredge, or clean out, the sedimentary matter that can be prevalent in the Mississippi River as well as the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. 

Lo collaborated with second author and his thesis adviser, Samuel Bentley, director of the University Coastal Studies Institute, and his thesis’ third author oceanology professor Kehui Xu.

Lo’s research serves as a source for further research in marine-geology but also reflects the work of the University’s Honors College. 

“The honors thesis is no longer just ‘practice’ for a future career in research,” said Honors College Dean Jonathan Earle. “Honors College students are producing truly path-breaking research, working alongside our best faculty. I’m hoping to celebrate many of our future students the way we’re celebrating Edward’s achievement.” 

Lo said his work on the honors thesis gave him a leg up because it prepared him for the work he is doing to pursue his master’s degree in geology at the University of Kentucky. 

Lo’s interest for sedimentology peaked when he took Bentley’s Introduction to Sedimentology and Depositional Environments, which focuses on understanding sedimentary processes that affect various environments.

“I thought it would be interesting to take hydrology and approach it from an earth scientist’s perspective,” Lo said.

Bentley contributed experiment ideas, among other contributions, to Lo’s thesis to discover the key concepts involved. 

“Most sediment carried by the river is mud. So in order to restore the coastline, we need to know how mud moves around and how it’s deposited into the land,” Bentley said.

Bentley said mud is a complex material because of its properties. Sand is a pretty straightforward substance that never changes physical properties, while mud changes based on its local conditions.

Lo’s honors thesis received financial support from the LA-STEM Research Scholars Program and the LSU McNair Scholars program. 

His research prompted him to apply for a Fulbright study and research grant to fund further research in Brazil for the Pantanal — the world’s largest freshwater tropical wetland system.

Lo intends to spend his time in Brazil in 2015 discovering patterns in how the sediment in their coastal wetlands add to the landforms to draw comparisons and contrasts between the Louisiana wetlands and Brazilian wetlands.  

“Science is moving in a direction that is collaborative and interdisciplinary, and in order for scientists to work more closely throughout the disciplines they need to be able to tie together these areas first,” Lo said.

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