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Past Graduate Students

Where are they now?

Greg Chorak

Greg Chorak conducted a yellow perch stock assessment in drowned river mouth lakes and nearshore Lake Michigan with Dr. Carl Ruetz. He's currently a Ph.D. student at Montana State University.

Suse LaGory

Suse LaGory studied stream fish ecology by estimating abundance, seasonal survival, and movement of mottled sculpin and brown trout in Dr. Carl Ruetz's lab. Suse is applying to Ph.D. programs in stream ecology.

Rajesh (Raj) Sigdel

Rajesh Sigdel conducted an assessment of environmental stressors in the Indian Mill Creek watershed near Grand Rapids, MI with Dr. Rick Rediske. Raj now attends Western Michigan University, studying geography and GIS.

Delilah Celement

Delilah Clement investigated the importance of dissolved phosphorus in the Lake Macatawa watershed in Dr. Alan Steinman's lab. She recently completed a summer as a Wilderness Trip Guide at Manito-wish in Alaska.

Deb Dila

Deb Dila found that Muskegon Lake is a “Goldilocks Zone” of net biological productivity in the Muskegon River watershed while working with Dr. Bopi Biddanda. Deb is currently a senior research specialist at the School of Freshwater Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

John Skutnik

John Skutnik researched the effect of climate change on an upper mesophotic threshold community of the great star coral Montastraea cavernosa with Dr. Kevin Strychar.

Anthony Weinke

Anthony Weinke studied the dynamics of seasonal productivity and hypoxia in Muskegon Lake using time-series measurements from the Muskegon Lake Observatory while working in Dr. Bopi Biddanda’s lab. Currently, Anthony is a Research Technician in the Biddanda Lab, planning to pursue a career or further studies in Marine Fisheries Conservation.

Graeme Zaparzynski

Graeme Zaparzynski studied the growth and bioenergetics of brook trout in a small Michigan stream with Dr. Mark Luttenton. He is currently helping finish additional research in partnership with the local Trout Unlimited chapter and hopes to pursue a career in aquatic ecology.

Jared Homola

Jared Homola studied the disease ecology and population genetics of mottled sculpin in Michigan streams while in Dr. Carl Ruetz's lab. Jared is currently a PhD student at the University of Maine.

James Smit

James Smit examined the potential water quality implications associated with a planned wetland restoration project in the lab of Dr. Alan Steinman.  Following graduation, James accepted a position as Staff Biologist/Field Technician at Environmental Resources Management (ERM) in Holland, MI.

Kristin Thomas

Kristin (Nelson) Thomas studied the distribution of zebra and quagga mussels in coastal areas of the Great Lakes in Dr. Carl Ruetz's lab, documenting the resistance of drowned river mouth wetlands to colonization by these dreissenid mussels. Kristin is currently an aquatic ecologist for the Michigan Council of Trout Unlimited.

Kelli Johnson

Kelli Johnson completed her MS degree while in Dr. Al Steinman's lab, where she studied the effects of urban stormwater runoff on algal communities. She now is a Project Manager at Bradburne, Briller, and Johnson, LLC (BBJ), an environmental consulting firm in Chicago, Illinois.

Alex Weiten

Alex Wieten studied the population status of lake sturgeon in the Muskegon River system while in Dr. Carl Ruetz's lab. Alex is currently a Project Coordinator at the Muskegon Conservation District in Muskegon, Michigan.

Matt Zuellig

Matt Zuellig studied genetic variation and hybridization in invasive Eurasian watermilfoil in Dr. Ryan Thum's lab. Matt is currently a PhD student at the University of Georgia.

Whitney Nelson

Whitney Nelson studied spatial and temporal trends in the benthic macroinvertebrate populations in Muskegon Lake while in Dr. Alan Steinman's lab. Whitney is currently a PhD student at the University of Arkansas, working with Dr. Ashley P.G. Dowling on the systematics of Hydrachnidae water mites.

Hannah Tavalire

Hannah Tavalire studied growth habits and invasiveness in genetically distinct but morphologically cryptic lineages of introduced variable leaf milfoil in New England in Dr. Ryan Thum's lab. Hannah is currently a PhD student at Oregon State University.

William Keiper

William Keiper completed his MS degree in Dr. Carl Ruetz's lab, where he studied the effects of storm water run-off on fish and snails. William is now an aquatic biologist for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Matt Altenritter

Matt Altenritter studied the population status and juvenile ecology of lake sturgeon in the Muskegon River system while in Dr. Carl Ruetz's lab. Matt earned a PhD at the University of Maine and is currently a post-doctoral researcher at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

Matt Cooper

Matt Cooper studied community metabolism in coastal wetlands with Drs. Don Uzarski and Alan Steinman. After earning a PhD at the University of Notre Dame in Dr. Gary Lamberti’s lab, Matt spent one year at Central Michigan University’s Institute for Great Lakes Research as a Research Assistant Professor. He is now a Research Scientist at at Northland College’s Mary Griggs Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation.

Garry Sanders

Garry Sanders worked with Bopi Biddanda to study the benthic and planktonic communities surrounding recently discovered submerged groundwater vents in Lake Huron. Garry is currently a Project Manager for the non-profit Crooked River Watershed Council in Prineville, Oregon.

Jennifer Cymbola

Jennifer Cymbola Gray completed her MS degree in Dr. Alan Steinman's lab, where she studied the response of phytoplankton to the interaction light and phosphorus released from lake sediments. Jennifer is currently an affiliate professor of Biology at Grand Valley State University.

Dana Strouse

Dana (VanHaitsma) Strouse studied predation behavior of yellow perch in Dr. Carl Ruetz's lab, documenting their selective consumption of native fishes over the invasive round goby. Dana is an environmental quality analyst for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Keto Geyekis

Keto Gyekis evaluated effects of Great Lakes coastal wetland fragmentation on zooplankton, macroinvertebrate, and larval fish communities while in Dr. Don Uzarski's lab. Keto is now an environmental quality specialist for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Aaron Parker

Aaron Parker completed his MS degree in Dr. Don Uzarski's lab, where he studied phenotypic plasticity of yellow perch related to feeding ecology. Aaron is currently an aquatic biologist for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Janel Hagar

Janel Hagar earned her MS degree in Dr. Rick Rediske's lab. She used three different techniques to detect and quantify microcystin concentration and related her results to environmental parameters in 2 west Michigan lakes. Janel is currently enrolled in the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Science PhD program at the University of South Carolina.

Matt Breen

Matt Breen completed his MS degree in Dr. Carl Ruetz's lab, studying the movement, habitat use, and foraging of mottled sculpins in a coldwater stream. Matt is currently a fish biologist with the Utah Department of Natural Resources.

Elaine Sterrett Isely

Elaine Sterrett Isely investigated the current use of the Michigan Natural Rivers Act as a river protection mechanism and provided new tools and information to encourage multi-jurisdictional land use planning and river protection. Elaine is currently the Director of Water and Low Impact Development Programs at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC).

Michael Snider

Michael Snider completed his MS degree in Dr. Bopi Biddanda's lab, where he studied the photo-physiology of cyanobacterial mats living in submerged sinkholes of Lake Huron by probing their photosynthetic pigments. Michael is currently working at Mary Free Bed in Grand Rapids, and is planning on attending physician assistant school in the near future. 

Angie Defore

Angie Defore studied the seasonal cycle of carbon in Muskegon Lake, MI while in Dr. Bopi Biddanda's lab. She is currently working as a Water Pollution Control Analyst for the Village of Rantoul, Illinois.