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UW-La Crosse
River Studies Center, Department of Biology


Research in the Strauss Lab

Research in my lab at UW-L centers on ecosystem level processes in freshwater environments. I am particularly interested in nitrogen biogeochemistry and the effects of nutrients on algal growth and production. I am always on the lookout for interested and dedicated undergraduate and graduate students (UW-L has a Masters Degree program in Biology). If you are interested in pursuing a research program in my lab I encourage you to contact me for more information.

Graduate research projects:

David Farrow (2012 - present)
David completed his undergraduate education at here at UW-L with a degree in Biology, Aquatic Science concentration. David is examining the relationship between macrophyte abundance and ecosystem properties like metabolism in streams of the driftless region.

Jenna Merry (2011 - present)
Jenna graduated from Winona State University in 2010 with a B.S. degree in Environmental Science & Ecology and has begun her graduate research relating macrophyte abundance to the trophic dynamics of slimy sculpin in local streams. Click here to see Jenna's poster that was presented at the 2013 Society for Freshwater Science (SFS) meeting in Jacksonville, FL.

Jenna's presentations of her research have won the following awards:

"Poster Award" at the 2013 UW-L Graduate Student Research Celebration

"Best Student Poster Presentation" at the 2013 Mississippi River Research Consortium

Robert Mooney (2011 - present)
Robert received a B.S. degree in Aquatic Science from UW-L in 2011 and is continuing his studies here at UW-L as he pursues a M.S. degree. His thesis research examines the stoichiometric relationships among a cased caddisfly, the benthic algae, and stream water chemistry in several local trout streams.
Robert is co-advised by Dr. Roger Haro.

Robert's exciting research has excellent presentation skills have resulted in several awards including:

"Undergraduate Poster Award" at the 2011 UW-L Research and Creativity Celebration

"Superior Graduate Poster in Ecologyā€¯ at the 2011 Sigma Xi Annual Meeting and International Research Conference

"Best Student Platform Presentation" at the 2012 Mississippi River Research Consortium

"Best Oral or Poster Presentation by an Undergraduate Student" at the 2012 annual meeting of the Society for Freshwater Science

Rachel Olmanson (2011 - present)
Rachel earned her B.S. degree in Biology from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2006 and is currently examining the effect of land use on water quality (C, N, P concentrations) in streams located in the driftless region of the upper midwest.

Stephanie Gatyas (2010 - present)
Stephanie arrived at UW-L after finishing her B.S. degree in Chemistry from St. Norbert College in 2010. Her thesis is studying the effects of macrophytes on carbon retention in stream ecosystems. By measuring whole-stream particulate and dissolved carbon retention before and after macrophyte removal, Stephanie was able to determine the effect of plants on these processes. Click here to see Stephanie's poster that was presented at the 2012 Society for Freshwater Science (SFS) meeting in Louisville, KY.

Shane Symmank (2009 - 2011)
Factors regulating ecosystem-level processes of periphyton in a backwater lake of the Upper Mississippi River. Specfically, Shane examined the effects of substrate type and nutrients on primary production, secondary production, and respiration of the autotrophic and heterotrophic members of the periphyton community. Shane also discovered that the Mississippi River can relentlessly flood out a graduate students research project. Recipient of a 2010 Rada Distinguished Alumni Scholarship.

Shane is currently employed with Natural Systems Utilities in Minnesota.

Brad Austin (2006-2008)
Nitrification and denitrification response to varying periods of desiccation and inundation in a western Kansas stream. Brad is currently in a PhD program at the University of Arkansas studying with Dr. Michelle Evans-White.

Undergraduate student research projects:

Whitney Swanson (2012-2013)
Whitney conducted an experiment to examine soil nutrient availability, nitrification rates, and other processes in a UMR floodplain forest in response to reed canary grass invasion, flooding, and various management practices. This is a collaborative study associated with other research projects of Dr. Meredith Thomsen and Dr. Nate De Jager (USGS, UMESC).

Robert Mooney (2010-2011)
Nutrient uptake and limitation of phytoplankton in a backwater lake of the Upper Mississippi River. Recipient of a 2010 College of Science and Health Dean's Distinguished Fellowship. Robert did another undergraduate research project examining the stoichiometric relationships among a cased caddisfly and the stream ecosystem. Robert is currently in the Aquatic Science graduate program here at UW-L.

Curtis Slagle (2009-2010)
Hydrodynamic modeling of an unnamed Minnesota stream in the Richard Dorer State Forest. Curtis is currently in the Marine Biology graduate program at Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

Jenny Heisel (2009 - 2010)
Heterotrophic nitrification in aquatic sediments. Recipient of a 2009 College of Science and Health Dean's Distinguished Fellowship. Jenny is currently serving in Zambia (Africa) as a Forestry Extension Agent in the Peace Corps.

Shane Symmank (2008 - 2009)
Nutrient limitation of periphyton growth in agricultural streams in the driftless region of west-central Wisconsin.

Recipient of a 2008 College of Science and Health Dean's Distinguished Fellowship and a 2009 UW-L Undergraduate Research Grant.

Shane is currently employed with Natural Systems Utilities in Minnesota.

Amber Goldbeck (2007-2008)
Under-ice nutrient limitation of phytoplankton biomass and production in Myrick Marsh.

Recipient of a 2008 UW-L Undergraduate Research Grant.

Brad Buechel (2008)
Method development for using nutrient diffusing substrates to test for nutrient limitation of periphyton in streams.

Dave Dettman (2008)
Database developement for data acquired in sampling aquatic ecosystems.



Stephanie conducting a dye release in Poplar Creek, WI

Robert filtering a water sample from the Mississippi River.

Jenny collecting sediment in northern Wisconsin

Amber and I (I'm on the left) sampling Myrick Marsh, WI on a very freaking cold day