Department of Environmental Sciences


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Main Campus
Wolfe Hall Suite 1235

2801 West Bancroft St.,
Mail Stop #604
Toledo, Ohio 43606-3390

Phone: 419.530.2009
Fax: 419.530.4421

Undergraduate Research: Mentors & Topics

 Ecology Projects & Mentors

Dr. Jonathan Bossenbroek

  • Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to forecast the spread and economic impact of aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes region
  • Assessing the community composition of darter communities in the streams of Ohio

Dr. Tom Bridgeman

  • Studying the ecology of Lake Erie
  • Studying environmental problems like harmful algal blooms and temporary low oxygen "dead zones"
  • Using advanced lake monitoring instruments to chemically and biologically analyze lake samples

Dr. Daryl Dywer

Our recent undergraduate members have gained experience in performing literature reviews, experimental design, laboratory analyses, field surveys, greenhouse work, and a variety of hands-on applications.  We can currently accommodate internships, independent course study, and work-study eligible students.

  • Field and greenhouse studies evaluating candidate plant species for use in major remediation/restoration projects.
  • Field work and environmental sampling within the Lake Erie watershed for a variety of chemical and biological contaminants.
  • Laboratory analyses for the detection of microbial and chemical contaminants.
  • Implementing designs for brownfield remediation and wetland studies at our newly constructed Environmental Remediation and Restoration Park at the Stranahan Arboretum

Dr. Johan Gottgens

From time to time, we accommodate undergraduate research assistants to help in the field, review literature, analyze data, etc.  My graduate students work in the following areas of wetlands ecology.

  • Pulse Stability in Wetlands: Succession in wetlands is often controlled by periodic perturbations such as fluctuating water levels, fire, or grazing.  Humans, however, generally aim to eliminate these disturbances, because they interfere with the use of aquatic habitat for water supply, navigation, recreation or aquaculture. Students test hypotheses relative to the long-term impact of altering such a pattern of pulsed stability in wetlands.
  • Human impacts on Rivers and Streams: Rivers and streams are among the most impacted ecosystems.  They are used as conveyors of pollutants and have been dredged, dammed, ditched or diked.  Students research stream management methods that incorporate ecological considerations such as dam removal to restore fish migration and ditch maintenance with an eye on conservation.
  • Paleolimnological Approaches to Restoration: To understand the response of wetlands to anthropogenic actions requires long-term data. Such a data record is usually absent and stratigraphic analysis of sedimentary cores (i.e., paleolimnology) may be used.  Our lab has done projects on wetland responses to water-level manipulations, development in the watershed, loading of non-point pollution, dam failures, and long-term toxic contamination.

Dr. Scott Heckathorn

  • Plant and algae physiology and ecology
  • Global-change biology, especially heat stress and CO2 effects
  • Mineral nutrition, especially early detection of stress
  • Native algae for biofuel

Dr. Christine Mayer

Projects addressing community and ecosystem ecology in aquatic systems including invertebrate-fish ecology, organism habitat modification (ecosystem engineering), and introduced-species effects in lakes.  Some recent projects include:

  • Foraging experiments and modeling on the effects of lake turbidity on yellow perch
  • Surveying benthic invertebrates in inshore and offshore habitats of Lake Erie
  • Studying the effect of zebra mussels on bottom algae and invertebrates
  • Assessing the impact of a power plant on the larval fish community at the mouth of the Maumee River

Dr. Von Sigler

  • Assessment of the environmental fate and transport of pathogens including bacteria and viruses
  • Development and optimization of methodology to facilitate the sampling of airborne pathogens

Dr. Carol Stepien

  • Using molecular genetic tools to trace the population origins of invasive species in the Great Lakes
  • Conducting studies on the conservation genetics of native fishes in the Great Lakes

Dr. Mike Weintraub

  • Working on a variety of different research projects aimed at understanding plant/soil interactions and the microbial controls on decomposition and nutrient cycling in soils
 Geology Projects & Mentors

Dr. Richard Becker

  • Mapping algae blooms in Lake Erie with Remote Sensing tools
  • Using GIS tools to model the runoff into Western Basin of Lake Erie
  • Investigating effects of climate variations on Nile River flow
  • Determining Nile Delta subsidence from satellite radar interferometry

Dr. Timothy Fisher

Recovering sediment cores from Midwestern sites and analyzing sediment properties to:

  • Study age of deglaciation
  • Determine isolation ages of lake or wetland sites following lowering of lake levels during deglaciation of the Great Lakes
  • Analyze sand content in sediment cores to determine climate signals
  • Map strandlines (ancient beaches) around paleo lake basins using maps, photos and Digital Elevation Models

Dr. Alison Spongberg

Conduct field studies, combined with laboratory chemical analyses to:

  • Investigate the presence of organic and inorganic contaminants, including pharmaceutical and personal care products, pesticides, and hydrocarbons in soil, sediment and water
  • Determine a soil or sediment's ability to retain contaminants or release them to the groundwater
  • Determine the influence of biotic and abiotic processes to the transformation and/or elimination of contaminants in the environment
Last Updated: 10/11/16