David Ortiz's interest in environmental science began with a visit to his grandmother. While visiting her rural Mexican home, Ortiz drank water from a local stream and became ill. It was then that he realized how important water quality is.
"From that point on, I saw that it was unfair that a lot of people don't have the same access to clean water that we do," said Ortiz.
Ortiz majored in environmental science as an undergraduate. He joined Grace Wilkinson's lab this fall as a graduate student. While working toward a master's degree, he will study temporal and spatial early indicators of algal blooms.
His research could mitigate the blooms' impact on water quality and recreational water use. Ortiz will study Swan Lake in Carroll County. This lake experiences high nutrient loads, and in 2015, suffered a fish kill that destroyed much of the ecosystem.
Ortiz grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, where he was a competitive swimmer at East High School. He still enjoys swimming and also loves to cook.