Spring 2020 eNewsletter

Spring Announcements


2020 Virtual IAGLR

For the first time in its rich 63-year history, the International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) hosted its annual meeting virtually, including an online gallery of prerecorded technical talks and poster presentations. The IAGLR board made the decision to cancel its in-person conference scheduled to commence in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; and instead, host IAGLR 2020 online from June 9-11, 2020.

For IAGLR 2020 registrants, the following presentations highlighting CIGLR scientists’ and colleagues’ presentations are available for viewing through July 5th. Abstracts are viewable for non-registrants.


Stakeholder Engagement: Lake Erie Harmful Algal Blooms

Toledo Lighthouse with NOAA GLERL’s autonomous ESP fin in foreground. Photo Credit: Paul Den Uyl, CIGLR.

The NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) and CIGLR produce a suite of experimental harmful algal bloom (HAB) monitoring products for Lake Erie each field year, in support of the operational HAB forecast issued by the NOAA National Ocean Service. In a typical field year, the team’s HAB research would be well underway, with the deployment of real-time buoys and Environmental Sample Processors (ESPs), fly-over hyperspectral imagery, and weekly field monitoring campaigns. Although much of this work has been delayed to protect our health and safety during COVID-19, NOAA has categorized our field monitoring work as mission-critical for support of the operational HAB forecast that serves stakeholders in western Lake Erie, including drinking water treatment plant managers. A suite of COVID-19 safety protocols have been developed and implemented within NOAA to insure that this critical sampling will take place.

CIGLR Stakeholder Engagement Specialist Devin Gill recently attended a virtual meeting of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG) focused on NOAA’s Lake Erie HAB monitoring products. While NOAA GLERL researchers Steve Ruberg, Reagan Errera, and Andrea Vander Woude introduced the HAB monitoring program, Ms. Gill  gathered information from participants using a pre- and post-meeting survey to help to gauge TMACOG members’ knowledge, perceptions, and use of NOAA HABs research products. This information will be used to inform updates to NOAA’s Great Lakes HABs research program.

The TMACOG is a non-partisan regional planning partnership made up of voluntary members in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. TMACOG’s members conduct water quality planning to help the region comply with governmental regulations for clean water, ensuring that governments cooperate for safe water supply systems and wastewater treatment. CIGLR and NOAA GLERL’s engagement with regional stakeholder partners, like TMACOG, supports understanding of stakeholder needs, ensuring that decision-support tools are designed to meet user requirements.

CIGLR Welcomes Three New Members to Our Team!

Timothy Maguire, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow working with Drs. Casey Godwin (CIGLR) and Craig Stow (NOAA GLERL). His research involves the use of a variety of frequentist, Bayesian, GIS, and artificial intelligence/machine learning techniques to develop numerical water quality models in the Great Lakes. Prior to joining CIGLR, Maguire’s research included quantifying agricultural impacts on riverine water quality, urban ecology, and the impact of urbanization on biogeochemical cycles.

Kelly McCabe joins CIGLR as a Biogeochemistry Laboratory Analyst working with Dr. Casey Godwin (CIGLR) to better understand the cycling of key elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and manganese as they relate to aquatic harmful algal blooms, hypoxia, and invasive species in the Great Lakes.

Anna Schmidt is a Food Web Laboratory Analyst working with Dr. Michael Fraker (CIGLR) to organize and execute field sampling and laboratory analyses related to zooplankton, larval fish, and Mysis ecology in the Great Lakes.

Research Institute Spotlight: Ashley Burtner
Providing Field, Laboratory and Data Support for HABs Monitoring

A bottle of the harmful cyanobacterium, Microcystis, collected during weekly sampling in the Great Lakes. Photo Credit: Dack Stuart.

CIGLR scientists wear many hats. As a Laboratory Specialist, Ashley Burtner supports CIGLR and NOAA GLERL’s harmful algal bloom (HAB) monitoring program in western Lake Erie and Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron by analyzing samples, training students, and managing large data sets. The cyanobacterium Microcycstis can form dense blooms and produce a toxin called microcystin. Because of the potential health risks of HABs, fast and accurate data are crucial. Every week during the HABs season, CIGLR and NOAA GLERL scientists collect water samples and quickly analyze many of those samples. Burtner’s timely quality control procedures help distribute and provide accurate data to HABs forecasters, drinking water managers, and other researchers who use the data to validate forecasts, make informed decisions about public health, and guide their own research. She also publishes the data at the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) to make it readily available to the public. Burtner says, “I think the word ‘Cooperative’ is the most important part of CIGLR. Our partnerships with NOAA GLERL, the University of Michigan, and many other organizations allow all of us to collaborate and work together toward better science for society.”