Lake Erie Center

Visiting Researchers

Shotaro HiraseMr. Shotaro Hirase (Summer 2011)
Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Earth System Surface Dynamics, Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Japan

Mr. Shotaro Hirase, from University of Tokyo, worked in Dr. Stepien's GLGL laboratory during summer to fall 2011, sponsored by a fellowship from Japan. Shotaro works on gobies in Japan and was interested in Dr. Stepien's research on invasive gobies in the Great Lakes.  He worked in the GLGL to help analyze the temporal genetic patterns of the invasive Round Goby Neogobius melanostomus using mitochondrial cytochrome sequences and nuclear microsatellite loci.  This was Shotaro's first introduction to working with microsatellite data.  Shotaro's Ph.D. graduate work focused on the spatial genetic patterns of the common Japanese intertidal goby Chaenogobius annularis and how cycles of vicariance and dispersal influence them.  Prior to his arrival at UT, Mr. Hirase's home laboratory was destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami, fortunately, Shotaro was away and had his data on his laptop with him in his car. His photo was published in Science.  During his time in the GLGL, Shotaro photographed many fun dinners and meals. You can read more about Shotaro's experience in the attached article published in UT news



Mr. Gökhan Kalayci (2010-2011)
Research Assistant, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, Rize University, Istanbul, Turkey

Mr. Gökhan Kalayci, an M.S. student from Rize University in Turkey, worked in Dr. Stepien's GLGL from fall 2010 through winter 2011. He learned phylogenetic analysis approaches and DNA sequencing techniques while in the GLGL, and was sponsored by the Turkish government. Gökhan assisted the GLGL lab on the project to analyze the phylogenetic systematics of Zebra and Quagga mussels, based on mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences. He is a co-author of Stepien, C.A., I.A. Grigorovich,  M.A. Gray, T.J. Sullivan, S. Yerga-Woolwine*, and G, Kalacyi. 2013. Evolutionary, biogeographic, and population genetic relationships of Dreissenid mussels with revision of component taxa.  Chapter 28 in: Nalepa, T., and D. Schloesser. Quagga and Zebra Mussels: Biology, Impacts, and Control, 2nd Edition. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL In Press.  While at the LEC, he enjoyed the camaraderie of the international community of the UT campus and Toledo.  Dr. Stepien plans to do field work in Turkey on species that have invaded the Great Lakes from the Black Sea, and hopes to work with Gökhan and his colleagues. Gökhan is a research assistant in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department at Rize University in Turkey where he is working on his thesis, ''Identification of Turkish crayfish species and subspecies by PCR-RFLP analysis."


Mr. Fabio Lobato (Summer 2008)
Graduate Student, Biogeography and Marine Macroecology Laboratory, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brazil

Mr. Fabio Lobato from Brasil worked in Dr. Stepien's GLGL laboratory during summer 2008, sponsored by an NSF Deepfin grant award for visiting graduate students to learn new fish systematic techniques.  Fabio is a graduate student in the Laboratory of Biogeography and Marine Macroecology at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brazil.  Fabio's sponsor is Dr. Sergio Floeter, who is collaborating with Dr. Stepien on phylogenetic and population genetic relationships of the Atlantic blenny Labrisomus nuchipinnis and its relatives.  Fabio learned DNA techniques, including extraction, PCR amplication of mitochodrial and nuclear genes, DNA sequencing, and data analysis.  Fabio went sampling and collecting with Lake Erie Center researchers on several occasions, including visiting Stone Lab and out on the LEC vessels.  Fabio worked closely with GLGL DNA technician Doug Murphy.  Fabio is back in Brazil completing his master's degree thesis. To learn more about Fabio, check out his website.

Dr. Yuriy Kvach (Fall 2006)
Researcher, Odessa Branch of the Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas, National Academy of Sciences, Ukraine

Dr. Yuriy Kvach from Ukraine was a guest postdoctoral researcher hosted by Dr. Carol Stepien and her Great Lakes Genetics Laboratory at the Lake Erie Center in fall 2006. Dr. Kvach's home institution is the Odessa Branch of the Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas, the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, located on the Black Sea. Drs. Stepien and Kvach collected gobies together in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov (which are their native habitats), for use in comparative genetics studies by Dr. Stepien's laboratory. Her Great Lakes Genetics laboratory used the samples to trace the genetic origins of the round and tubenose gobies that invaded the Great Lakes in about 1990. Dr. Kvach is a specialist on fish parasites, and compared the parasites of the round and tubenose gobies in the Great Lakes with their parasites in the native range. A popular ecological theory is that invasive species have fewer parasites in new habitats than they do in native areas, which was supported by the results of this joint study. Dr. Stepien requested and received supplementary funding from the National Science Foundation (DEB-0630172 ) to support his visit. Drs. Kvach and Stepien published two 2008 papers on the parasites of round gobies in Journal of Applied Ichthyology and the Journal of Great Lakes Research.


Mr. Vasily Boldyrev (Fall 2006)
Graduate Student, Volgograd State Pedagogical University, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia

Carol Stepien and her Great Lakes Genetics Laboratory Lake Erie Center hosted graduate student Mr. Vasily Boldyrev of Volgograd State Pedagogical University and the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia, during fall 2006. Dr. Stepien obtained supplementary funding from the National Science Foundation for Vasily to visit and participate in her NSF research project on "Molecular Systematics, Biogeography, and Invasion Identity of Neogobiin Fishes". Vasily thus successfully worked to identify morphological characters for goby fishes that were indicated by the DNA data. Two of these species, the round and tubenose gobies, have invaded the North American Great Lakes through accidental ballast water transfers, making this taxonomic work very important to understanding their invasion ecology.

Vasily assisted the lab with collections of gobies in Russia. He had never before visited the U.S. Dr. Stepien and her Ph.D. student Matt Neilson are writing a taxonomic key with Vasily Boldyrev to this important group of Ponto-Caspian fishes for publication in both English and Russian journals. Collaborations with eastern European scientists, including Vasily, thus are facilitating international scientific cooperation and training in phylogenetic analyses and DNA applications. Vasily also enjoyed traveling to Niagara Falls and Michigan, as well as visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.


Last Updated: 6/26/15