RSU Assistant Professor, Graduate Present Research at Water Conference and Research Symposium

A Rogers State University assistant professor and an RSU graduate recently shared their research on Oklahoma’s water systems with their peers at an annual conference.

Biology Assistant Professor Dr. Cheyanne Olson and Jessica Burke, RSU alumna, of Bartlesville presented their respective research findings to members of the Oklahoma Governor’s Water Conference and Research Symposium in Norman Nov. 29.

Burke presented her research project, for which she analyzed how biochar – a lightweight black residue made of carbon and ashes which remains after the pyrolysis of biomass – can be used for water remediation.

Burke’s research, titled “Removal of Nutrients from Organically Contaminated Water Using Biochar,” was her senior capstone project. Through her findings, she determined that biochar could be used as an adsorbent to remove various pollutants in water and wastewater.

An adsorbent is a solid substance used to remove contaminants from liquid or gas that can harm the environment.

In her research, Burke further found that biochar – a form of charcoal – could be used to remove excessive nutrients from water and lessen the likelihood of eutrophic water and harmful algae blooms.

Olson presented research regarding who monitors water quality within the state, specifically, Blue Thumb – a citizen science project which is part of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. Blue Thumb’s goal is water protection through education, to which end, any Oklahoma citizen can sign up to learn how to monitor a nearby stream. Rogers State University monitors Dog Creek and Cat Creek, both in Claremore.

The Oklahoma Governor’s Water Conference and Research Symposium is a yearly event that attracts hundreds of water researchers, planning officials, industry representatives, state and local officials, and citizens from across the state who share a stake in Oklahoma’s water resources management, development, and protection.

Burke graduated from Rogers State University in the spring 2023 semester with a bachelor’s degree in general biology, after which she spent the summer interning at the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) in its Ecosystems and Watershed Management Department.

Olson is an assistant professor in RSU’s Department of Biology.

For more information about degree options in biology at RSU, visit

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