Natalie Levesque

Graduate Student

Natalie Headshot Web Personal

I am a M.S student, expecting to graduate in the coming months. I graduated from Central Washington University in 2017 with a major in Biology, a specialization in Ecology and Evolution, and a minor in Chemistry. When not in the field or lab, I can be found walking my dog, baking, and painting.

Natalie Field 2 Web

I started to study aquatic ecosystems because I was concerned with contaminants that got through or were made worse by wastewater treatment plants. The more I read, the more fascinated I became with complex nutrient cycles, algae, and all the amazing insects I never knew were there. I started working in a research lab as an undergraduate research assistant studying the effects of the antibiotic triclosan on denitrifying bacteria in streams. This antibiotic is now banned in part because of the freshwater research community's outreach and knowledge. I then took on a large role in determining how an insect, the Western Spruce Budworm, could increase the nutrients available to stream biofilm and possibly change the microbial community structure. These insects eat so much of the trees, more light enters the stream, and due to their waste, there is more carbon and nitrogen available to them.

Natalie Field 1 Web

My current research focuses on the Copper River Delta in Cordova, AK. I collaborate with the US Forest Service and many others to study the aquatic and riparian ecosystem. I am particularly interested in changes to the food web and nutrients caused by an invasive species, Elodea canadensis. Our lab has collected many years of food web stable isotopes, I am exploring the patterns they hold. I am also comparing the quality of the dissolved organic carbon using fluoroescence to determine how both native and invasive vegetation changes the carbon available to the biofilm and the rest of the food web.