Current Lab Members
I am interested in the ecology of freshwater ecosystems, including food webs, ecological stoichiometry, ecosystem ecology and lake-watershed interctions. Areas of particular interest are the role of animals in recycling and transporting nutrients, both within the context of ecological stoichiometry theory and in terms of impacts at the ecosystem scale; interactive effects of light and nutients on food chain efficiency; and integrating watersheds and lake ecosystems. My approach includes whole-ecosystem studies, field and lab experiments, and simulation modeling. For more details on my research projects, go to the Research page.
My lab usually contains anywhere from 8-12 people including grad students, undergraduate students, research associates (technicians) and postdocs. For more information on opportunities to join my lab, go to the Student Opportunities page.
Hyun Woo Kim (Visiting Professor)
Since 1993, I have performed substantial descriptive work and applied environmental approaches to lake, reservoir, and river ecosystems. My work has included information on physico-chemical properties, phytoplankton and zooplankton succession, interactions between phytoplankton and zooplankton communities, grazing, and microbial food webs in freshwater ecosystems. Recently, I am especially interested in the interrelationships between global climate change and long-term effects on plankton dynamics in regulated river ecosystems.
As stated in my attached CV I did my postdoctoral research at the Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (Berlin, Germany) during 1999~2000. Since 2001, I am a scientific faculty member in the Department of Environmental Education in Sunchon National University, South Korea. I am working as a visiting professor in the Department of Zoology at Miami University from January 2013 to August 2014. More information on my educational background, research and publications can be found in the attached CV.
Beth Mette (Research Associate)
I am a full-time Research Associate with several responsibilities. I manage the lab, including the scheduling and direct supervision of some of the undergraduate students. I also conduct most of the chemical analyses in the lab, including running our nutrient auto-analyzer. Finally, I also oversee our field lake and stream sampling program.
I completed my Master's degree in the Vanni lab in 2007. For my Master's research I investigated the interactive effects of light, nutrients, and planktivory on phytoplankton and food webs. We were interested in how phytoplankton (C:nutrient stoichiometry and community composition) would respond to these factors (Mette et al. 2011), and subsequent effects of these responses on trophic efficiency (Dickman et al. 2008).
Nicole Hayes (PhD Student)
I am broadly interested in the effects of anthropogenic activities on freshwater ecosystem function and phytoplankton community structure. I am especially interested in the effects of nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations and ratios on cyanobacteria biomass, cyanotoxin production (specifically microcystin and anatoxin) and nitrogen fixation. I am addressing these questions by completing a multi-year, multi-reservoir survey to examine how land use and climate (changing precipitation patterns) affect nutrient limitation and phytoplankton communities.
I am also using a mesocosm experiment to isolate the mechanisms driving cyanobacteria dominance. In this project, I altered light and nutrient supply rates and ratios to determine when nitrogen fixing compensates for nitrogen limitation and when cyanobacteria produce the most toxins. This research is supported by an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Grant received in 2011.
Follow this link for a copy of my CV.
Luke Ginger (Masters Student)
I am a first year Master’s student originally from Chicago, Illinois. I graduated from The University of St. Thomas in 2012 with a BS in Biology. As an undergraduate I became interested in ecology and started working in an aquatic ecology lab at St. Thomas. While there, I investigated the relative impacts within-lake characteristics (e.g. fish community) and watershed characteristics (e.g. amount of agriculture) have on the nitrogen to phosphorus ratios of shallow lakes. I recently presented this research at the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography conference in Japan.
Kelsea Downs (Undergraduate)
I graduated from Miami with a Bachelors degree in Zoology and Environmental Science in December 2012. I am currently working in the Vanni lab before I attend graduate school in the fall. In the summer of 2011, I conducted a research project investigating how light and nutrient supply effect the growth and condition factors of juvenile bluegill. My experiment was part of a larger experiment conducted in mesocosms at the Ecology Research Center that examined the effects of nutrient supply, nutrient (N:P) ratios and light on food chain efficiency. I also enjoy helping out with lake sampling and anything else that needs to be done in the lab.
Lauren Porter (Undergraduate)
I am a Junior, Zoology major with the intention of going to veterinary school with a focus in public health and conservation. I assist in the lab by collecting lake and gauging station samples, filtering them, and later aiding in the chemical analyses and collection of data that they provide. I also complete several other miscellaneous tasks within the lab, which range from acid washing glassware to electroshocking in the lake.
John Whalen (Undergraduate)
I am a senior majoring in Zoology and Environmental Science with minors in Geology, Spanish, and Latin American Studies. I help collect and filter water samples from the surrounding rivers that flow into Acton Lake. In the summer of 2012 I worked on an experiment to see how the addition of different nutrients affect phytoplankton composition and primary productivity in Acton Lake. I am still gathering and analyzing data for that experiment. I also help out with anything else in the lab that needs to be done, especially if it's electroshocking.
Anne Morgan (Undergraduate)
I am a sophomore majoring in Environmental Earth Science and co-majoring in Sustainability. I am currently analyzing sediment cores taken from Acton Lake in Houston Woods State Park. I also help out with anything else that needs to be done in the lab, included filtering Acton Lake water samples!
Zach Alley (Undergraduate)
I'm a 3rd year undergraduate Zoology major, currently helping Gergely Boros with his fish decomposition experiment at the Ecology Research Center. In the lab, I assist with data collection and analysis, including filtering and measuring chlorophyll and nutrients from the mesocosm water samples. I also assist other lab mates whenever needed. After my bachelors, I plan to go to grad school, and later on pursue a career in fisheries biology.