Eleanor Wintersteen | 2018 | Interns

Eleanor Wintersteen

Eleanor Wintersteen (’19)

Helena, MT

Rich and Kathleen Levin Intern

Biology Major

Environmental Protection Agency

This summer I worked at the EPA in the Office of Water, specifically in the Standards and Health Protection Division. I worked to evaluate the efficacy of various treatments for freshwater harmful algal blooms. When the conditions are right and a water body contains an excessive amount of nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen, algae and cyanobacteria can over-proliferate and cause a bloom. Certain types of algae and cyanobacteria release toxins which can be harmful to people and pets, so it’s important that blooms are prevented and treated in water bodies used for things like drinking water and recreation. My work involved looking at many research papers about algal bloom treatments, determining whether their research methods were valid and reliable, and interpreting their data. I created summary documents about several treatments, including barley straw, ultrasound, and hydrogen peroxide. The information I compiled may be published (in some form) by the EPA in the future, which is exciting!

At the EPA I was able to participate in meetings and witness important decision-making. I was able to do important work that was relevant to the mission of the EPA. I had the freedom to work on projects I thought were most interesting, and I was able to attend various hearings and talks that gave me a broader perspective on the EPA and the federal government. In addition, I worked with wonderful people who really care about their work and their coworkers.

I had a wonderful summer experience and would highly recommend this program, especially to any student who’s unsure about their future career path but is curious about government, policy, or public service. I learned about so many opportunities that I never would have seriously considered before participating in this program.