I was initially trained as a microbiologist and molecular biologist, but a passion for the outdoors led me to seek graduate programs with a strong field component. This led to doctoral research on freshwater microbes associated with seasonal ice cover in the Great Lakes. Ever since, I have conducted research in marine, estuarine, and polar ecosystems. I continue to be passionate about research on microorganisms – specifically on how they keep the planet functioning the way we know it, and on how human activity – such as pollution and climate change affect these microbial ecosystems.
In the classroom, I aim to inspire in the minds of my students a sense of curiosity about the environment and our place in it. In addition to providing new information on specific topics, I emphasize critical thinking and problem solving in the topics being taught.
Research themes: Microbial Ecology, Phytoplankton Ecology, Environmental Toxicology, Marine and Freshwater Ecology, and Climate Change.
I am an aquatic microbial ecophysiologist. I study microbes in different marine and freshwater environments to figure out who they are, what they do, how they do it, their role in that ecosystem, and how they respond to changes in their environment. Over the last 15 years, I have conducted research on the ecophysiology of ice-associated microbes in the Laurentian Great Lakes and Antarctica, the impact of oil-spills on microbial biogeography and physiology in the Gulf of Mexico, starvation and chemical stress responses of microbial grazers, the impact of multiple stressors (stemming from climate change) on marine phytoplankton, and most recently the response of planktonic microbes to multiple stressors and pollutants like heavy metals and biocides.
At Gonzaga University, by coupling lab experiments with field observations, I aim to adopt a holistic approach to investigating the response of aquatic microorganisms to the changing environment we are witnessing around the globe. The scope of these questions is intentionally broad so as to accommodate specific interests of students. In other words, if you’re passionate about working with microbes in the environment, or on issues involving the effects of toxic substances on ecosystems, get in touch.