Undergraduate Mentoring in Environmental Biology

Colleen Cooley



UMEB homepage

*Site of past UMEB scholars


*Site of another research program that I've been involved in since coming to NAU


*Northern Arizona University website


*Thanks to NACRP for funding


Atriplex canescens( four-wing saltbush)

Sporobolus airoides (alkali sacaton)

 Sporobolus airoides (alkali sacaton)

Gutierrezia sarothrae (snakeweed)

 Gutierrezia sarothrae (snakeweed)


Ya'at'eeh. My name is Colleen Cooley. I am currently attending Northern Arizona University as a junior, majoring in Environmental Sciences with an emphasis in Management. I am Towering House clan born for the Reed People clan. My maternal grandfather is Water Flows Together clan and my paternal grandfather is Manygoats clan. I am the third eldest of seven children. I was born and raised on the Navajo Reservation in a small town known as Shonto.

Current Research:

Spring 2006: I am currently working on a research project with Dr. Jani Ingram and Dr. Nancy Johnson in the Chemistry and Biochemistry department. I began this project in Spring 2006 when Dr. Nancy Johnson suggested I test the plants for any elevated levels of uranium contamination near the abandoned uranium mines in Cameron, Arizona. Both water and soil samples near Cameron, Leupp, and Black Falls show elevated levels of uranium in them. The plant samples I collected are shown to the left and the alkali sacaton contains the highest level of uranium content. While I was collecting the plant samples, I saw a herd of sheep eating the alkali sacaton, which may pose a problem for both the sheep and the people who own the sheep. 

Colleen Cooley

Collecting plant samples in Cameron, Arizona.

Virgin River

V. River at Zion National Park






Summer 2006: For the summer I will be growing alkali sacaton in a greenhouse to measure its ability to uptake uranium. I will be using two types of soil; one highly contaminated with uranium and one with low uranium. In addition, I will be applying three different types of water to the plants; one from a well that contains high uranium, one with distilled water, and one with a known amount of uranium. I will continue working with Dr. Ingram along with Dr. Johnson for the next two years on this amazing research project I have began.

Me 2

Grand Canyon - June 2006