I am a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate 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 after earning my B.S. in Marine Science and Biology from the University of Miami (FL).
Since joining the lab in 2014, my primary research focus has been on coastal wetland – nearshore habitat linkages in Lake Michigan. Great Lakes coastal wetlands are hotspots of primary productivity and provide critical habitat for up to 90% of the region’s fish species. Fish can move nutrients and energy between habitats in marine coastal systems, and evidence suggests that similar ecosystem linkages may exist in the Great Lakes. These cross-habitat linkages, particularly between coastal wetland and nearshore lake habitats, are not well-studied and it remains unclear how wetland-derived resources are incorporated into open lake food webs. I’m quantifying these linkages using a combination of stable isotope analysis (to look at wetland resource contributions to sport fish diets) and otolith microchemistry (to estimate habitat use at different life stages).
I’m also involved in projects looking at how anthropogenic impacts, such as microplastics and heavy metal contaminants, affect Great Lakes coastal ecosystems. In addition to my research, I’m passionate about science outreach and communication. I spent 2018 in Washington, D.C. as a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sea Grant Knauss Policy Fellow where I had direct experience working at the intersection of science and policy.