Winter 2017 eNewsletter

Graduate Fellow Spotlight: Katie Knapp and Kaitlin Reinl

New CILER Graduate Fellows Take On Key Challenges in the Great Lakes

As part of our commitment to train the next generation of Great Lakes scientists, CILER awards Great Lakes Graduate Research Fellowships to students at Consortium universities. The goals of the program are to: 1) increase training and educational opportunities for students in Great Lakes research; 2) enhance academic and NOAA collaborations to improve research effectiveness; and 3) increase student retention within the freshwater aquatic sciences. The fellows work with their academic advisors and NOAA and/or CILER research scientists on important research topics for the Great Lakes. We are pleased to announce the 2017 Great Lakes Graduate Research Fellows – Katie Knapp and Kaitlin Reinl.

Katie Knapp collecting samples on Muskegon Lake. Photo courtesy of Katie Knapp.

Kaitlin Reinl ready for a day of Great Lakes field work. Photo courtesy of Kaitlin Reinl.

Katie Knapp is an M.S. student at Grand Valley State University, advised by Dr. Bopi Biddanda. and co-mentored by Steve Ruberg (NOAA GLERL). The goal of her fellowship research is to provide a better understanding of carbon cycling in Great Lakes coastal ecosystems, such as lakes and estuaries, and ultimately apply her methods and results globally. Worldwide, lake ecosystems account for a minor percentage of Earth’s surface area when compared to terrestrial and oceanic biomes, yet they process a significant amount of the global carbon pool – a factor that is missed by most global carbon models. By improving the ability to account for carbon processing in lakes, Katie’s research will add significant information to carbon balance estimations. Katie’s research will take place in Muskegon Lake, where she will estimate rates of carbon processing, or metabolism. She will use changes in dissolved oxygen measured by a network of 4 buoys in Muskegon Lake to perform these calculations. She will compare the results from this study to existing global lake data and develop a schematic model of changes in carbon metabolism.

Kaitlin Reinl is a first year Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, advised by Dr. Robert Sterner and co-mentored by Dr. Tom Johengen (CILER). The goal of her fellowship research is to evaluate algal bloom response time to changes in temperature and nutrients in three different ecosystems. Although Lake Superior is commonly viewed as a pristine natural environment, incidences of harmful algal blooms (HABs) are on the rise there, just as they are worldwide. The western arm of Lake Superior provides a unique opportunity for Kaitlin to investigate a system showing early warning signs of connections between the effects of climate change, nutrient delivery, and HAB emergence. She will compare her observations in Lake Superior to two other Great Lakes with varied levels of HAB affliction – western Lake Erie and eastern Lake Michigan. She will measure nutrient levels, temperature, and algal growth in water samples collected from each of the three lakes, and analyze the connection of HABs and climate change in the Great Lakes. Ultimately, her results will be used to develop and apply a model that will forecast future physical, chemical, and biological conditions in the Great Lakes.