A Closer Look
#95 April Newsletter

LMC Events - Activities - Presentations - Publications - Contracts and Grants - AWRI In The News


AWRI's Postdoctoral Researchers from left to right: Yakuta Bhagat, Liqiang Xie, and Nadia Gillett


AWRI Hires Three Postdoctoral Researchers

AWRI recently has hired three postdoctoral research scientists: Yakuta Bhagat, Liqiang Xie, and Nadia Gillett. Yakuta Bhagat, who joined us in December 2009, received her Ph.D. at Trent University in Canada. Her general research interests lie in fish ecology and evolution, with an emphasis on how fishes respond to environmental variation. Dr. Bhagat is currently working on assessing fish community structure and environmental variation across space and time as part of the Long-Term Monitoring Study on Muskegon Lake. The results from this study will contribute to a more comprehensive assessment of the status of Muskegon Lake as it relates to ongoing efforts in delisting the water body as an Area of Concern (AOC) in the Great Lakes.

Liqiang Xie, who joined us in March of 2010, received her Ph.D. in Environmental Science from Shinshu University in Matsumoto, Japan. Dr. Xie’s Ph.D. research focused on the bioaccumulation of cyanotoxins (toxins released from cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae) in aquatic animals (fish, snail) and their impacts on human and environmental health. She is currently working on evaluating the factors that contribute to cyanotoxin production and the fate of these compounds in the aquatic food webs of west Michigan drowned river mouth lakes. The results of her research will provide important information on the ecological effects of cyanobacteria blooms and why the nature of toxin production varies among and within lakes.

Nadia Gillett, who joined us in April of 2010, received her Ph.D. from Portland State University, in Oregon. Her dissertation work was on diatom communities (microscopic algae) from streams/rivers in the Western US and their use as indicators of environmental conditions. Currently, Dr. Gillett is evaluating the relationship between phytoplankton community structure and water quality using data collected from the Long-Term Monitoring Study of Muskegon Lake. The results from these analyses will help set realistic restoration targets for Muskegon Lake as an Area of Concern in the Great Lakes.

All three postdoctoral research scientists are currently funded for two years. Drs. Bhagat and Xie are funded through the generosity of an anonymous donor. Funding for Dr. Gillett comes from the Paul C. Johnson Foundation and the Hines Foundation. AWRI expresses its gratitude to these generous donors. The vital information obtained from all three of these research investigator’s projects will be useful in helping us improve our local water quality.

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AWRI Events

April 8 – The Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnership held a meeting.

April 16 - AWRI Seminar Series: Dr. Meng Xia from the University of Michigan presented "A numerical study of wave-current interaction in Lake Michigan using Finite Volume Coastal Ocean Model".

April 26 and 27 – A 4th-grade class from North Muskegon Schools visited the Annis Educational Classroom for hands-on activities.

April 27 – 30 – A U.S. Census Bureau training was held.

April 30 – A sustainability workshop for teachers was held.

April 30 – AWRI Seminar Series: Dr. Robert Michael McKay from Bowling Green State University presented “Some like it cold: Psychrophilic diatoms in Lake Erie”.

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AWRI Activities

Bopi Biddanda attended a workshop titled “NASA and the U.S. Great Lakes” at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio from April 11-13. This is the first workshop on NASA’s role in Great Lakes studies for the coming decades. A white paper highlighting key priorities identified at the workshop will be produced and distributed to the Great Lakes community during the summer of 2010.

Bopi Biddanda and Maggie Weinert hosted a table for AWRI at the Muskegon Area High School Career Fair 2010 at Walker Arena in Muskegon on April 22.

Rod Denning was guest speaker for a Biology Research Seminar at Calvin College on April 30th. His presentation was on Modeling the Value of the Urban Tree Canopy – An Ecological Services Assessment – for the City of Grand Rapids.

Elaine Sterrett Isely attended the National Sea Grant Site Review for the Northeast Michigan Integrated Assessment Project in Harrison Township on April 15.

John Koches attended the National Science Foundation Grant Writing Workshop and the annual CLAS Spring meeting on the Allendale campus on April 7.

John Koches attended the Institute for Healing Racism on April 22 and 23 at the Dominican Center at Marywood in Grand Rapids, MI and is now qualified as a GVSU Inclusion Advocate.

John Koches, Janet Vail, and Jon VanderMolen, all from AWRI, along with Arn Boezaart, director of the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC) hosted a Teacher's Workshop for the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District titled, "It's All Connected" on April 30th. Part of the presentation was held at the Annis Water Resources Institute and part at MAREC. Discussions included sustainability activities underway in west Michigan and "green job" opportunities for adult students.

Mark Luttenton recently had an interview with WHLN, Chicago, about water sustainability; this is part of a series on Global Water Issues.

Rick Rediske gave a lecture on Clean Coal Technologies to the Green Chemistry Class in Allendale on April 5.

Carl Ruetz, Elaine Sterrett Isely, and Janet Vail attended an Earth Day Celebration that focused on NOAA-funded habitat restoration in Muskegon Lake on April 22.

Michele Smith and Shirley McIntire, AWRI Science Instructors, represented AWRI at the annual DNRE Earth Day Event in Lansing on April 18. About 2,000 students were in attendance.

Al Steinman has been invited to be an Associate Editor for Freshwater Biology; he will soon be ending his term as an Associate Editor of JNABS.

Al Steinman visited the University of Notre Dame on April 22 and 23. He is a member of the external review committee that is evaluating their GLOBES (Global Linkages of Biology, Environment, and Society) program.

Janet Vail attended a meeting of the West Michigan Clean Air Coalition on April 1 in Grand Rapids. Information from that meeting will be used to update the MEECS Air Quality Curriculum.

Janet Vail attended a National Science Foundation grant writing workshop and the annual CLAS Spring meeting on the Allendale campus on April 7.

Janet Vail attended a dinner and professional development event in Grand Rapids on April 22 for the Groundswell project (a professional development initiative for teachers). She is working on some displays for that project that will be displayed at movie theaters in Grand Rapids.

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AWRI Presentations

AWRI student papers were presented at GVSU’s Student Scholarship Day held in Allendale on April 14.

Defore, Angela. Oral. Carbon Cycling by production and respiration in a drowned river mouth lake.

Driza, Kaitlyn. Poster. Biological and photochemical transformation of organic matter in a Great Lakes watershed.

Horne, Nicole. Poster. Cyanobacterial mats of the earth: spotlight on Lake Huron's sinkholes.

LaRue, Elizabeth. Oral. Population genetic structure of the invasive Round Goby in Lake Michigan.

Trombka, Autumn. Oral. Gender differences in PBDE accumulation in Walleye.

Janet Vail presented Project WET activities to four 8th grade classes at Harker Middle School in Saranac on April 15.

Jon VanderMolen presented on Environmental Indicators at West Michigan Strategic Alliance’s State of the Region meeting in Hudsonville on April 27. Elaine Sterrett Isely was also in attendance.

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AWRI Publications

Biddanda, B. A. 2010. Freshwater futures in a changing world. Interchange, April 2010.

Wiley, M. J., D. W. Hyndman, B. C. Pijanowski, A. D. Kendall, C. Riseng, E. S. Rutherford, S. T. Cheng, M. L. Carlson, J. A. Tyler, R. J. Stevenson, P. J. Steen, P. L. Richards, P. W. Seelbach, J. K. Koches, R. R. Rediske. 2010. A multi-modeling approach to evaluating climate and land use change impacts in a Great Lakes River Basin. Hydrobiologia. DOI 10.1007/s10750-010-0239-2.

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AWRI Contracts and Grants

Deb Dila, a graduate student working with Bopi Biddanda, received an award from Michigan Space Grant Consortium in the amount of $5,000.

Al Steinman received a contract from the Mona Lake Watershed Council in the amount of $950.

Hannah Tavalire, a graduate student with Ryan Thum, received an award from Michigan Space Grant Consortium in the amount of $5,000.

Hannah Tavalire received awards from the Midwest Aquatic Plant Management Society in the amount of $750, and from the Northeast Aquatic Plant Management Society in the amount of $5,000.

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AWRI In The News

“Muskegon Lake $10 million shoreline restoration set to start this month”
Muskegon Chronicle, April 4, 2010
It is mentioned that AWRI will conduct fish and plant surveys of restoration areas before and after construction on Muskegon Lake.

“Invasive fish and mussels team up to transfer toxic substances into Great Lakes walleyes”
Was covered by several sources:
Newswise (web site), April 9, 2010,
redOrbit (web site) on April 11, 2010,
WWJ 950 News Radio on April 11, 2010,
NewsGuide.us (web site) on April 10, 2010,
YubaNet.com (web site) on April 10, 2010,
LabSpaces.net (web site on April 12, 2010,
USAgNet.com on April 14, 2010,
Environmental Research Web (web site) on April 14, 2010,
SperoNews (web site) on April 19, 2010
Rick Rediske and Jim O’Keefe are co-authors on a paper recently published in Journal of Great Lakes Research, from which this information was taken.

“On Earth Day, lots is happening in our little corner of the world”
Muskegon Chronicle, April 22, 2010
The article lists several initiatives going on in the Muskegon area that are meant to improve the environment. AWRI is mentioned for its fish and plant surveys of restoration areas before and after construction on Muskegon Lake.

“Grand Valley receives Space Grant Awards”
FORUM: a newsletter for the Grand Valley State University community, April 26, 2010
Hannah Tavalire and Deb Dila, both graduate students at AWRI, are named for receiving fellowships.

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Page last modified April 19, 2012