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The Department offers multiple opportunities for Graduate Research.

Many professors take on graduate students to participate in a plethora of research opportunities. Below are a few examples of current graduate students and their research.

Tammy Bleir

Advisor: Dr. Michael Chislock
Title: Abundance and composition of microplastics in five south-central Lake Ontario tributaries 
Project Summary: I am surveying Lake Ontario and five local tributaries for microplastics to answer three main questions: 

  1. What is the concentration of microplastics in Lake Ontario tributaries in the Rochester area?
  2. Which tributaries have the highest microplastic concentrations, and how do these compare to lake concentrations?
  3. What are the most common polymer types found in tributaries versus the lake?

The goal of my project is to better understand where plastic debris originates to recommend local pollution prevention initiatives. 

Tammy on a boat in the middle of a lake


Tiffany Clay

Advisor: Dr. Chris Norment
Title: Managing refuge dikes to enhance monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) habitat
Project Summary: My thesis research is investigating how mowing regimes along National Wildlife Refuge dike systems affect monarch butterfly habitat, through their impact on the monarch’s host plant, milkweed (Asclepias sp.). The goal of my project is to provide management suggestions to refuges within the range of the eastern migratory population of monarchs.

Tiffany Clay


Aaron Heisey

Advisor: Jacques Rinchard
Title: Is lake trout thiamine deficiency related to a lipid-rich diet?
Project Summary: Thiamine (vitamin B1) acts as an antioxidant and a cofactor for multiple cellular metabolic functions essential for sustaining life. It is hypothesized that if the intake of thiamine is incongruent with its organismal demand, then thiamine deficiency complex (TDC) may result, leading to neurological and developmental impairments. In Lake Ontario, TDC affects native lake trout that feed heavily on alewife, a highly abundant prey species with twice the lipid content of other prey. Although recently, they seem to have incorporated the round goby as a prey in certain areas of the lake. My proposed research will incorporate a field study using fatty acid signatures to look at the spatial variability of diet composition in lake trout and a laboratory experiment to provide a holistic understanding of how thiamine deficiency is linked to high lipid prey.  

Aaron posing with a fish in the lab


Chris Mitchell

Advisor: Dr. Rachel Schultz
Title: Quantifying Waterfowl Use and Habitat Characteristics Following Wetland Restoration in Lake Ontario Coastal Wetlands at Braddock Bay Wildlife Management Area
Project Summary: My thesis research involves a field study at Braddock Bay WMA where spring-migrating waterfowl will be surveyed using trail cameras and point-count estimates. I will also be surveying habitat characteristics such as vegetation, and aquatic invertebrates within the different habitat types of the WMA. My goal is to determine differences in waterfowl use and habitat characteristics of various habitat types within the Braddock Bay WMA during spring migration. Ultimately, this will allow future researchers and managers to assess the potential selection of the different habitat types within Braddock Bay by different species of waterfowl.

Chris Mitchell in the field during winter


Kylee Wilson

Advisor: Dr. Matthew Altenritter
Title: Movement and Life History Diversity of Lake Ontario Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens).
Project Summary: My thesis research aims to document variations in movement life history (e.g. migratory or residential) in yellow perch caught in coastal wetland and Lake Ontario habitats. I am looking to see if such diversity manifests as variations in body morphology, demographic characteristics (e.g., age, growth, fecundity), and duration of habitat use. The goal of my project is to inform whether these different life histories exist, and to understand the potential ecological and managerial implications of this diversity.

Kylee posing with a fish on a boat in a lake

Last Updated 10/27/20

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