Issue 2: January/February 2011

Bi-Monthly Newsletter of the GVSU Biology Department for Graduate Students, Prospective Students, and Faculty.


Graduate Prestolatio

I am currently sitting in a lecture hall with 20 or so youngish college students all in the throes of taking my final stream ecology exam.  This process always makes me think back to my days as a grad student. 


In particular, I recall being a newly fledged MS candidate and reading through a paper called “the river continuum concept” for the first time and having to go line by line to try and get my head around all those exotic and cool terms--autochthonous, allochthonous, hyporheic, stygobiont…  I would have freaked out if you had told me at the time that one day I’d be teaching some of the same vocabulary words to my students. 


I also recall doing yoga stretches for an hour before a final oral exam in an MS graduate class.  I figured if Richard Simmons recommended it as a calming technique, it couldn’t be all bad.  Besides, being able to calm yourself through deep breathing exercises is potentially helpful in all walks of life.  The big pay off finally came when, with my MS degree in hand, my in-laws would joke, “hey look, it’s Dr. Science, he has a masters degree…  in science!”


So, to get to the point, remember that a graduate program is meant to be challenging and that there are times when we have all felt that we weren’t going to get to the end with a degree in hand.  Remember, you’ve got a great safety net built around you and the best part?  All of us have been exactly where you are at some point in our careers.  So, knock down those doors and ask for help.  That is why we’re here.   


And remember the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “If you don't know where you're going, you'll probably end up someplace else.”


Best wishes as you start the new semester. 


Dr. Eric Snyder

Associate Professor of Biology


Ed Krynak

Expected Date of Graduation:
December 2011

Profile: Ed has a degree in Natural Resources from Ohio State University and a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Kent State University. Before attending GVSU, Ed was a park naturalist for Lake Metroparks in northern Ohio and a high school science teacher for Gateway School, Caldwell County, North Carolina. He is currently working on invertebrate production, diversity, and assemblage over a one-year period within four mesohabitats (large woody debris, sandy runs, organic pools, and elodea beds) within Cedar Creek in Manistee National Forest, MI. In addition he is looking at particulate organic matter (POM) and chlorophyll a production within these same mesohabitats as possible energy sources for invertebrate production.

Future Plans:
"I plan on pursuing a PhD so that I can make research in stream ecology a central focus of my career. In addition, I see education continuing as an important part of my life; I love sharing my passion for science with students, and I love learning from students."

Robb Roos

Expected Date of Graduation:
December 2011

Partnering with the US Forest       Service, Robb is looking at ways to achieve better restoration results of Michigan's sand prairie, a primary component of the historical oak-pine barrens ecosystem in the Manistee National Forest. To do this, he is varying seeding rates (high and low concentrations) of different native plant functional groups (early season forbs, late season forbs, legumes, and C4 grasses) and comparing biomass, soil, species richness, diversity, and vegetative cover over time.  Results from this experiment hope to develop seeding approaches that result in a more successful plant community structure in similar restoration projects.

Future Plans: "I would like to be a large-scale, landscape ecological restoration planner for a non-profit or private organization that works with tallgrass prairie and savanna ecosystems in the United States.  I hope to be writing grants, restoration management plans, and partnering with numerous organizations to build large networks of restored areas.  I eventually plan to go for my PhD and to be an educator at the university or college level in the far away future."

Beth Walker

Expected Date of Graduation:
April 2011

Beth is researching the relative assimilation of leaf litter versus algae of aquatic invertebrates in MI headwater streams and comparing this assimilation to a stream's net primary production over each season. This will allow her to see if aquatic insects choose the most abundant food source available at the time or if they choose food sources that have greater nutritional quality regardless of abundance. 

Future Plans:
"My future plans are to work as a stream ecologist and become active in local watershed councils to educate citizens how to better care for the water in their own backyards."


PACES: Graduate Student Success Topics:

Thursday, January 13th
Library Skills Workshop (RefWorks)

Thursday, January 27th

    Thesis Workshop: Writing Strategies for Success

Thursday, February 10th
Getting the Most from Your Internship/Clinical/Practicum Experience (Faculty Panel)

Thursday, February 24th
Working in an International Setting  

AWRI Seminar Series:

Friday, January 14th
Lake Michigan Center, Muskegon 2 to 3pm

Dr. Kim Scribner
Dept. Fisheries & Wildlife and Dept. of Zoology
Michigan State University
Seminar title: Long-term ecological and genetic studies of lake sturgeon in Black Lake, MI


  • Lyndsey Adams
  • Jordan Allison
  • Matthew Altenritter
  • David Baisch
  • Julie Batty
  • Jeffrey Beurkens
  • Kathryn Brandt
  • Jessica Brinks
  • Melissa Conte
  • Megan Cookingham
  • Angela Defore
  • Deborah Dila
  • Nicholas Ettema
  • William Flanagan
  • Travis Foster
  • Elizabeth Hanna
  • Jared Homola
  • Nicole Horne
  • William Keiper
  • Edward Krynak
  • Angela Larsen
  • Elizabeth LaRue
  • Kenneth Leister
  • Jennifer Liebig
  • Laurelin Martin
  • Jeremy May
  • Sheila Miara
  • Whitney Nelson
  • Rebecca Norris
  • Timothy Paver
  • Amanda Potter
  • Robb Roos
  • Andrew Sisson
  • Rob Slider
  • Neal Swanson
  • Hannah Tavalire
  • Jacqueline Taylor
  • Beth Walker
  • Alexander Wieten
  • April Wright
  • Matthew Zuellig


    Have questions about a M.S. in Biology? Please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator, Dr. Mark Luttenton, at OR check out our website at

    Please e-mail all questions or comments regarding B.U.G.S. BUZZ to Christina Helsel, Biology Office Student Assistant, at
    Issue 2 

    Birthday Bugs!

    Kathryn Brandt:
    January 5

    Rob Slider:
    January 10

      Beth Walker:
    January 20

    Kenneth Leister:
     February 2

    Travis Foster:
    February 13

    David Baisch:
    February 23

    Bug Bites:

    Would you like to gain valuable research experience and get paid for doing it?

    Consider applying for one of our Graduate Assistantships!

    What is an Assistantship?

    A Graduate Assistantship is a work opportunity that departments within Grand Valley State University offer to graduate students. Those who receive departmental assistantships will work with faculty at a variety of departmental tasks that provide support to the undergraduate programs in the Biology Department.

    Graduate Assistantships provide students with:

    -Part-time work.
    -Financial assistance.
    -Experience within their field of study.
    -An opportunity to use their classroom knowledge in a real-world setting.

    For more information please click on the link below:

    Bug Report:

    Please e-mail
    any questions, comments, or ideas to Christina at:

    We look forward to hearing from you!

    Attention Grad Students!

    Please take time to participate in the myGVSU survey to take place February 1-14, 2011. Click on the link below to take the survey!


    Page last modified February 23, 2011