I participated in an REU program (Research Education for Undergraduates) through ESF this summer and worked closely with my student and friend Chris Tarolli on our Lake Erie project.
(photo compliments of Dave Krueger)
The Lake Guardian is an EPA Research Vessel and is 185 feet in length!
Each time I was able to sample Lake Erie, I would stay on the boat for about a week.
My research involves the tracing of nitrogen (and to some extent carbon) through food webs in freshwater lakes by combining stable isotopes (d15N and d13C) and fatty acid/amino acid analysis. By employing these methods on phytoplankton and zooplankton samples, as well as on certain nutrients found in the water column, how these nutrients are being taken in and used by organisms can be determined, as well as how concentrations are changing over a period of time. These methods are also very useful for determining community shifts of phytoplankton or diet preferences of zooplankton in a varying system. This past summer, I was able to conduct research on the three basins of Lake Erie (western, central and eastern) and determine differences between each basin as well as changes that occurred in these food webs from the period of May-September 2005.
Sampling for zooplankton was always a great experience…except for when it was in the middle of the night or at 5 am like in this picture!
Even after all of my trips to Erie, I still was able to visit the State Fair and make liquid nitrogen ice cream for the future scientists out there!