GLGL Graduate Students, Postdoctoral Scholars, and Technicians
Evolutionary biology, animal behavior, phylogenetics, population/conservation genetics, environmental DNA
As a postdoctoral research fellow at the GLGL, I will be working with Dr. Carol Stepien’s lab in the development of a DNA based assay for detection of invasive aquatic invertebrate species in the Great Lakes. We will use next-generation sequencing technology to test water samples (environmental DNA or eDNA samples) for the DNA of over 50 different invertebrate species. My previous postdoctoral work with Dr. Craig Paukert (University of Missouri) and Duane Chapman (CERC-USGS) involved using quantitative PCR to assess how informative eDNA sampling could be in monitoring efforts for invasive bigheaded carps in the Chicago Area Waterway System. My postdoctoral experience has led to my interest in the use of eDNA sampling for biodiversity monitoring and conservation applications. Prior to this work, I was mainly involved in theory driven research of how biodiversity arises. For my Ph.D. at the University of Missouri, I worked in Dr. Carl Gerhardt’s lab and examined speciation within a cryptic species complex, the canyon treefrog, using phylogenetic, population genetic, and behavioral assays. My research has led to a better understanding of species delimitation in this system, provides supporting evidence for a new species designation, and emphasizes the importance of using multiple lines of evidence in species delimitation. Besides research I also enjoy teaching and community based science outreach. I have coordinated and directed several science outreach programs including local Bioblitz events (citizen science based biodiversity surveys) and K-12 science education outreach programs. In the future I hope to find a position that allows me to pursue my interests in conservation research, teaching, and science outreach.
Invasive species detection and management, conservation genetics, community ecology, animal communities in anthropogenic habitats
The Great Lakes ecosystems continue to be plagued by invasive species, and potentially invasive species will likely be added to the system by new shipping routes and sources of shipments. Detection, the first step in managing invasive species, can be difficult in the early stages of invasion, as the number of individuals at that time will be extremely small. Dr. Cecilia Hennessy, working as a postdoctoral research scientist in the lab of Dr. Carol Stepien, is improving early detection methods, using environmental DNA (eDNA) to construct an assay of known invasive and potentially invasive species, as well as native fishes that we expect to be present. This assay could then be used as a rapid test by managers to determine the presence and relative abundance of problematic species. Before joining the Lake Erie Center, Dr. Hennessy was a postdoctoral research scientist at Purdue University, analyzing data from multiple primary investigators on an interdisciplinary forestry and community ecology study. She also taught for a year in the Biology Department at Indiana University as a visiting lecturer. She earned her PhD under the tutelage of Dr. Olin “Gene” Rhodes at Purdue University, studying the effects of anthropogenic and natural barriers on terrestrial animal populations and gene flow. Prior to that, she earned her Masters from Ohio State University, using genetics to study social relationships of coyotes in the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area.
Freshwater ecology, population and conservation genetics, freshwater mussel ecology and life-history
My love for lakes and rivers has driven me towards a research career focused in freshwater ecology. I received my B.S. in Zoology from the Ohio State University (2006-2010), and then completed my master’s degree at the University of Texas at Tyler (2012-2014) with a concentration in conservation genetics. I decided to come back to Ohio to work on a Ph.D. project with Dr. Carol Stepien at the University of Toledo. My Ph.D. project will first involve the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) from Lake Erie water samples to develop a next-generation sequencing assay capable of detecting and quantifying the relative abundances for Great Lakes invasive invertebrates, such as the zebra and quagga mussels. Such an assay will be critical for the prevention and eradication of these nuisance species. This project is funded by a USEPA GLRI grant awarded to Dr. Stepien. Secondly, population genetics will be used to assess the population status for unionid freshwater mussels of conservation concern. I have presented my master’s work at such conferences as FMCS and AFS and will continue to pursue my passion for biology by attending and presenting at future conferences.
Ecology, population and conservation genetics, viruses, evolution, host-pathogen arms races
From an early age I have been fascinated by the ways organisms in ecosystems interact. I began my pursuit of a career in biology with my bachelor’s in zoology and a concentration in genetics from the Lyman Briggs College at Michigan State University (2008-2012). During my latter semesters I discovered my interest in genetics. Seeking some field work, I attended North Dakota State University and received my master’s in zoology (2012-2014). During the long winters in Fargo, I found myself dabbling in genetics-related projects to pass the time between field seasons. This realization solidified my resolve to pursue research in both ecology and genetics. My Ph.D. research working with Dr. Stepien’s lab will focus on the evolutionary patterns of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia virus (VHSv), namely substrain IVb, and its spread through the Laurentian Great Lakes. VHSv is found worldwide in marine and freshwater systems and infects over 80 species of fish, making it an issue of global concern. Using sequencing, we can examine which genes are changing and estimate how quickly such changes are occurring. Alterations in genes can tip the balance between virus infection and host response, resulting in future outbreaks and expansion into new locations.
Ecology, marine biology, limnology, evolution, conservation genetics/genomics, education and outreach
Love and appreciation for the natural environment has lead me to pursue a career as a biologist. I received my B.S. in Ecology from San Francisco State University. Generally, I am interested in the spatial and temporal scales of evolution, contemporary evolution, and conservation genetics, but my goal is to produce high quality scientific research that informs conservation and management practices. In the Great Lakes Genetics Lab I have conducted a temporal invasion genetics study of the round goby in the Great Lakes. Temporal patterns in populations structure were examined across 22 years of invasion history. Invasion genetics studies have the potential to inform management practices and help environmental agencies develop a framework for predicting which introduced species will become successful invaders. Currently I am developing an environmental DNA assay to test for presence of all currently and potentially invasive gobies in the Great Lakes. Later in my PhD work, I will be conducting a population genomics study of the round goby in the Great Lakes, and results of this study will be compared to that of my temporal invasion genetics study.
Eva L. Kramer
DNA Research Technician (2014-present)
I joined the GLGL team in 2014 as a DNA Research Technician. My role is to keep the
lab running smoothly, support students, and conduct research. In this role I am involved
in many GLGL projects, including population genetics studies of walleye, yellow perch,
and round goby; development of assays to detect invasive species; and study of Viral
Hemorrhagic Septicemia virus. I received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the
University of Michigan in 2012, where I studied environmental engineering and worked
in several very different labs, including the University of Michigan Paleontology
Laboratory, the Center for Information Technology Integration, and the Michigan Geomicrobiology
Laboratory. After graduating, I spent two years at the Cooperative Institute for
Limnology and Ecosystems Research, located at NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research
Laboratory, as part of a research team developing a near-shore bacterial water quality