Mia Lee

Years participated in RESESS: 2013


An Overview

Major: Environmental Science and Policy

Academic Affiliation: University of Maryland


With her passion for both the scientific and social contexts of today’s most prevalent issues, Mia Lee came to RESESS ready to learn from her peers and mentors. Born, raised, and educated in Maryland, Mia found that living and working with this diverse and vibrant group in a new city has given her a greater understanding of the global scientific community. Through her RESESS internship, Mia has been characterizing the microbiological and chemical composition of well water on the Colorado Front Range. This research will contribute to understanding of the interaction between outdoor and indoor environments, and their potential for human health impacts.


The microbial composition of the well water is a little studied area despite its wide spread use and societal significance. Regulatory mandates that concern well water quality are narrowly focused on well know and easily identifiable pathogens. In contrast, there is very little known about the microbial communities present in such environments. Well water, in contrast to municipal water, is subject to large variability due to its increased interaction with the natural environment. This study characterizes the microbial and chemical composition of well water in the Colorado Front Range. Our data will help further our understanding of the ecology of this widely used resource, and may aid in identifying factors that cause changes in water composition. Cell count, methane analysis and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests were conducted to determine the load, methane level, and microbial composition of water samples. Currently, there have been 40 more well water samples collected in collaboration with Dr. Stephen Osborn research team from Cal Poly Pomona and the Pace Lab team at the University of Colorado Boulder. This partnership allows the Pace Lab to focus on more in depth microbiological tests while Osborn’s team studies the chemical composition. A more comprehensive and thorough data set from the Colorado Front Range will allow for more conclusive findings. Such a data set will also provide an opportunity to study specific variables that may affect changes in water composition, such as various forms of human activity.