Dr Katherine O'Reilly
Postdoctoral Research Associate
I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Stream and Wetland Ecology Lab at the University of Notre Dame. Not unlike the salmon studied by our lab, I returned to studying freshwater ecosystems for my Ph.D. after earning my B.S. in Marine Science and Biology from the University of Miami (FL).
Since joining the lab as a Ph.D. student in 2014, my research has focused on understanding human impacts to coastal ecosystems of large lakes, particularly the North American Great Lakes. I am particularly interested in understanding food webs of coastal wetland habitats through the use of both field survey and modeling approaches. Great Lakes coastal wetlands are hotspots of primary productivity, and I have used stable isotope and otolith microchemistry techniques to show that the movement of fish can transport this wetland productivity across habitats. I have also been involved in projects to understand how contaminants such as microplastics and heavy metals affect ecosystem functioning. After earning my Ph.D. in 2022, I transitioned to my current role as a postdoctoral researcher. As a postdoc, I help coordinate our lab’s work as part of the Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring Program as well as ongoing research on the impacts of an introduced aquatic plant (Elodea canadensis) in ponds and lakes of Alaska.
In addition to my ecological research, I’m passionate about improving how scientists communicate their research and how research informs policy development. For example, I have trained scientists to communicate climate change impacts as a leader of the American Fisheries Society's Climate Ambassador Program. I am also an alumna of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sea Grant Knauss Policy Fellowship which provided me with direct experience working at the intersection of science and policy.