Dr. Silvia Newell is the current President of LEARN. She is an Associate Professor at Wright State University in Dayton, OH. She has a Ph.D. in Geosciences from Princeton University and did a postdoc at Boston University. She has worked on biogeochemical cycling of nitrogen in aquatic environments from Gulf of Mexico and the Arabian Sea to Lakes Erie and Taihu. Currently, her work at Wright State focuses on nitrogen as a driver of harmful algal blooms in eutrophic Lake Erie, Lake Okeechobee, Lake Taihu (China), and Estonian lakes, as well as local research on Ohio wetlands through the H2Ohio program partnership with ODNR and LEARN. She was also the co-Chair of the Great Lakes HABs Collaborative from 2018-2020.
Dr. Thomas (“Tom”) Bridgeman is the Director of the Lake Erie Center and Professor of Ecology at the University of Toledo. Dr. Bridgeman is the Past President of LEARN. He leads the UT effort to monitor and track harmful algal blooms (HABs) that form in Maumee Bay and then move toward the Toledo and Oregon. Dr. Bridgeman works with the Toledo water treatment plant intakes to develop warning networks for Lake Erie’s western basin, where harmful algal blooms are most common.
Student Board Member
At-Large Board Members
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Dr. George S. Bullerjahn is a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus, Biological Sciences at Bowling Green State University and theDirector of the NIEHS/NSF Great Lakes Center for Fresh Waters and Human Health.He earned an A.B. from Dartmouth College in 1977 and a Ph.D. University of Virginia in1984.Dr. Bullerjahn is a molecular biologist and microbiologist whose work is focused on the physiology of aquatic microbial communities. Specifically, for over 30 years he has studied the physiology and stress responses of cyanobacteria in fresh water and marine environments. More recently, these studies have been applied to understanding the characteristics of bloom-forming toxic cyanobacteria in lakes. Regarding Ohio watersheds, Dr. Bullerjahn has studied both Grand Lake St. Marys and western Lake Erie. These ecosystems have been plagued with seasonal toxic cyanobacterial blooms that have severely degraded water quality and yielded significant negative economic impact to the lakeshore regions. Dr. Bullerjahn’s laboratory has published recent studies demonstrating the likely origin of toxic cyanobacterial species, as well as the nutrient requirements of bloom formation. Whereas it is well known that phosphorus loadings from agriculture have contributed greatly to the expansion of cyanobacterial blooms, more recently the role of nitrogen in triggering bloom events has become increasingly clear. In recognition of the work by his students and his collaborators, Dr. Bullerjahn and his colleagues have been awarded funds from the NIEHS and NIH to establish the Great Lakes Center for Fresh Waters and Human Health.
Dr. Justin Chaffin is the research coordinator at Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory, a field station on Gibraltar and South Bass Islands in Lake Erie. Research in his lab focuses on cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie and the environmental factors that promote bloom growth and toxicity. One current research project goal is to develop a forecast for Lake Erie cyanobacterial bloom toxicity that can be incorporated into the NOAA Lake Erie HAB bulletin. A toxicity forecast will help water treatment plants better prepare to remove the toxins and produce safe drinking water. Other projects include understanding the prevalence and environmental factors that promote saxitoxin (a lesser know cyanotoxin) production by benthic and pelagic cyanobacteria, investigations of central basin cyanobacterial bloom, and developing criteria of water quality impairment. Recently completed projects studied the interaction between nitrogen and light intensity in bloom toxicity, the effectiveness of data buoys to track cyanobacterial blooms, nitrogen cycling in Sandusky Bay, and internal loading of phosphorus in western Lake Erie. Dr. Chaffin coordinates a citizen scientist Lake Erie water quality monitoring program where charter boat captains collect data and water samples once a week. He also facilitates visiting scientists who conduct research utilizing labs and research vessels at Stone Lab, and deploy long-term monitoring equipment on the grounds, having assisted with many diverse projects including atmospheric mercury monitoring, PAH and PCB tracking in Lake Erie, fish sampling surveys, and projects relating to birds, bats, and crayfish. Additionally, Dr. Chaffin coordinates Stone Lab’s undergraduate research program and is a certified Merchant Mariner Credential (50 ton Master) (i.e., certified boat captain) by the United States Coast Guard.
Dr. Suzanne M. Gray is an Associate Professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University. She is currently a LEARN Member at Large. Dr. Gray received her PhD in Behavioral Ecology from Simon Fraser University (BC, Canada) in 2007. After completing two postdoctoral fellowships with McGill University and Fisheries and Oceans Canada she joined The Ohio State University in 2013. Her research and teaching focuses on understanding how freshwater fishes respond to human-induced environmental change. Since 2015 Suzanne and her lab group have been working to understand the impact of harmful algal blooms and elevated turbidity on the sensory ecology of Lake Erie fishes.
Dr. Laura Johnson is Director of the National Center for Water Quality Research at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio. At the NCWQR, long-term monitoring of streams and rivers is used to examine the influence of human activities on water quality and help decide actions that lead to healthier ecosystems. Laura is best known for research examining the linkages between agricultural runoff and harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. As director, she has overseen expansion of the monitoring program, curriculum development in Watershed Science, revitalization of the Sandusky River Watershed Coalition, and has been part of numerous workgroups and advisory boards. Under her guidance since 2016, the NCWQR continues to be the gold standard for research in nonpoint source pollution in watersheds.
Dr. Lauren Kinsman-Costello is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Kent State University, where her lab group spreads the message that #mudmatters by exploring the biogeochemistry of freshwater aquatic ecosystems including urban wetlands, Great Lakes coastal bays, and arctic peatlands. Dr. Kinsman-Costello earned a BS in Environmental Sciences from the University of Notre Dame and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University, where I worked at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, in Zoology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior. She studies study elemental cycling to better understand how ecosystems, especially muddy ones, work. She is currently the lead PI for the LEARN-ODNR H2Ohio project.
Dr. Kevin McCluney
Dr. Kevin McCluney is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Bowling Green State University, specializing in ecology. He received his PhD at Arizona State University, where he studied the influence of river drying on streamside animals. Subsequent work has focused on various aspects of global change in both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, with an effort to provide important information for achieving sustainable solutions to ecological and societal challenges. His current aquatic research projects focus on pharmaceutical/contaminant effects on linked aquatic and streamside food webs; nutrient cycling in ditches, wetlands, and streams, with a focus on the roles of plants and animals; the use of phosphate isotopes to trace watershed sources of dissolved phosphates or the recycling of phosphate in agricultural soils; and connections between aquatic systems at large scales (e.g. via migratory waterfowl) and their influence on diversity-stability relationships.
Dr. W. Robert (“Bob”) Midden earned a PhD in Biochemistry from the Ohio State University in 1978 and began his career in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Johns Hopkins University where he helped start a new PhD program in Environmental Chemistry. He came to BGSU in 1987 to join a team building the new PhD program in photochemical sciences and establishing BGSU as a national leader in photochemical sciences research. Since then, he has pursued multiple research interests including bioorganic photochemistry of some of the fundamental processes of carcinogenesis, the development of more effective methods of education at all levels, and now: the chemodynamics of water and soil, especially as it relates to restoring and maintaining water quality in our environment. The recipient of more than $20 million in grants from federal and state agencies and private foundations, he has led multiple intercollegiate teams in efforts to improve education in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Dr. Midden retired from all of his administrative roles in 2019 and now leads a science research group investigating problems that are threatening the environmental welfare and economic vitality of Lake Erie and other Ohio lakes, rivers, and streams. The focus is on improving understanding of the chemical processes in water and soil that determine environmental integrity and ecological health. This includes the development of technology to improve the environmental sustainability of the use of animal waste as a fertilizer for maximizing crop yield.