Johnson Adio Wins Grant For Rio Mora Water Quality Research

Photo of grad student Johnson Adio

Highlands geology graduate student Johnson Adio stands in front of the Rio Mora, the subject of his thesis research. Courtesy Photo: Jennifer Lindline/Highlands University

Las Vegas, N.M. – New Mexico Highlands University geology graduate student Johnson Adio is researching water quality at the Rio Mora northeast of Las Vegas, New Mexico, thanks to a $6,500 grant from the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute.

Adio’s thesis research focuses upon an 8-kilometer stretch of the Rio Mora at the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge.

“The measurements I will take are important because they give a general view of what is going on at the river, and how well it can accommodate endangered species of aquatic organisms,”
Adio said. “Knowing if and how water quality is changing in response to land use and climate change is imperative, as the quality of water in a system sets the basis for the rest of the ecosystem’s health. Managers at the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge will use my findings to help guide land use decisions.”

Adio will use stream gauges to measure streamflow and other instruments such as a multiparameter sonde instrument to measure the chemical attributes of the water.

“For example, I’ll use the sonde instrument to check attributes like acidity and dissolved oxygen. Another instrument I’ll use is a portable turbidimeter to measure the suspended sediments of the water,” Adio said.

Adio said another important goal of his water quality research is to measure seasonal variations in the Rio Mora, giving a big picture of how organisms might adapt. His study continues through spring semester 2020. Adio expects to complete his master’s degree in May 2020.

Adio said his graduate geology studies at Highlands differ from his undergraduate education in his native Nigeria.

“For my bachelor’s geology degree, I went to a very big college in Nigeria and didn’t have individual relationships with my professors. At Highlands, it’s very different because my professors are always available and ready to help. This is a critical part of my success in my studies,” said Adio, who has maintained a 4.0 GPA to date at Highlands.

Adio said his experience in the Environmental Geology Program at Highlands has been outstanding and helped him grow as a scientist. Highlands geology professor Jennifer Lindline is Adio’s research adviser and he also works as Lindline’s graduate teaching assistant.

“Dr. Lindline inspires and mentors me, always making time to guide me in my research. She is so caring and well-rounded academically. Thanks to Dr. Lindline and another geology professor, Dr. Michael Petronis, I’ve become proficient in all aspects of geoscience,” Adio said.

Lindline said Adio has an exceptional can-d0 attitude and intellect.

“Johnson has a very high potential to make valuable contributions to the field of water resources management,” Lindline said. “He developed a program of graduate study with depth and breadth that prepares him to address global water quality and availability issues.”

Adio said that another important element of his education at Highlands is academic freedom such as access to research laboratories.

“Having full access to the Water Chemistry Laboratory has allowed me to work independently on my research,” Adio said.

Looking ahead, Adio said his ultimate professional goal is to work as an environmental science consultant.

“I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in environmental geology to advance my career,” Adio said.