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A Day in the Life of H2Ohio Technician Corbin Kohart

A Day in the Life features the people, places and things that make aquatic field research possible.

This September 2023 we’ve asked Corbin Kohart, Lab Coordinator with Bowling Green State University, to share his experiences as a member of the Northwest Inland Base Crew for the H2Ohio Wetland Monitoring Program.

What are three things you do (almost) every week in your job?

  1. Analyze water, soil, and plant samples for nutrients.
  2. Provide upkeep to our AQ2 discrete analyzer.
  3. Oversee students work and provide advice.

How does your job vary day to day?

Person stands in laboratory next to equipment that analyzes samples.
Corbin Kohart, Northwest Coastal Inland Base Crew Lab Coordinator, stands by the AQ2 discrete analyzer, which measures nutrient content from H2Ohio Wetland soils and water samples.

While every day is spent in the lab, work can vary greatly on what needs to be done. Days include a combination or sole focus on various tasks that are needed to keep the lab running smoothly. These include things like setting up and testing samples, cleaning lab equipment, and taking stock of materials. Lab work can feel a bit tedious but once you get the flow and start planning you can make each day both productive and different enough to stay feeling fresh.

Why did you pick this job?

I picked this job as my goal is to work in the water quality field. I have lived in various areas of the U.S. and each has had its own issues with water quality. This job’s objective of assessing wetlands capabilities sparks my interests and allows me to participate in expanding the knowledge of my favorite field of science.

Describe an average morning on the job?

My average morning starts with preparing the AQ2. Once it begins testing it takes about 3-4 hours to complete. In the meantime, I begin doing manual tests (pH, electrical conductance, etc.) and other lab duties. Then by the afternoon the AQ2 will need cleaned and prepared for the second test which takes me to the end of my average workday.

A lab bench with data sheet and labeled bags of soil samples.
H2Ohio Wetland soil samples fresh from the field! The standard labels help track the soil samples across the journey from field to lab to results.

Who do you work with (almost) every day and how?

I work with undergraduate students daily. I try to simplify work for students, so they just come in and pick up a clipboard with work needing to be completed. They then fill out the sheet as they work and update the lab’s task list at the end. If they come across any difficulties or have questions, I am there to assist.

A lab bench with a data sheet, scale, and other supplies to weigh soil samples.
Lab staff dry and weigh the soil samples from H2Ohio Wetlands and then analyze them for nitrogen and phosphorous content.

What is one skill you recommend a student learns to be successful in this job?

The most important skill for this job is time management. We get many samples sent to the lab and the tests we perform can be very time consuming. On my drive to work I always think about what needs to be completed and how I can stack these tasks to maximize efficiency. For example, many tests have periods where they are run on a machine (shaker, centrifuge, AQ2, etc.) which gives a space of time to set up other tests or clean.

How did your coursework prepare you for this job? What is something new you learned since starting this job?

While my degree is in biology and this job is chemistry focused, my coursework still did a good job at preparing me for this job. Much of the chemistry is simple and uses mechanisms that I learned. It also helped that I took a course on limnology which gave me some background on work like this. Since starting this job, I have learned much more about working with equipment, especially the AQ2 discrete analyzer. Working with a sensitive machine like that has taught me how to troubleshoot.

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