My research interests focus on understanding how humans and their activities are affecting freshwater ecosystems at both local and global scales. Some of my current projects include the effects of urban and agriculture land use on the biogeochemistry and ecosystem function of aquatic ecosystems, the linkage between hydrological variability in lakes and rivers (water regulation, flooding, climate change) and aquatic communities, and the fate and effects of nanomaterials in the aquatic environment. My research program uses various tools (modeling, GIS, experiments, statistical) and fosters interdisciplinary collaborations.
Current projects in my lab include:
We have been working in this area for over a decade, funded primarily by my NSERC Discovery Program. This program seeks to understand how dissolved organic matter (DOM) quantity (usually measured in units of carbon, DOC) and quality affects the ecology of freshwater ecosystems. Another major objective of my Discovery Program is to quantify the movement and processing of organic matter between land, water and air and how these pools of carbon vary with land use.
In partnership with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment we are seeking to better understand the origin and magnitude of the observed increasing organic matter in the water ("browning" or "brownification") and its potential effects.
This is work that began through my involvement with the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. The goal of this research is to develop statistical models that relate proximate drivers (climate, land-use, acid rain, etc) to patterns of global biodiversity and eventually use these models to forecast future change in biodiversity given projected climate and environmental change scenarios.
Nanotechnology has the potential to be very beneficial for society but effects of the release of nanomaterials in the natural water are still unknown. We are releasing silver nanoparticles in a lake at the Experimental Lakes Area and quantifying its fate and effects.
We have done a number of projects in this area in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. More recently I joined the NSERC Strategic Network FloodNet, where I am leading research on the environmental effects of floods. With a team of 20 other Canadian Scientists and Engineers we received funding to focus on improving flood forecasting systems and management capacity in Canada.
Funded by an NSERC Strategic Project, we are examining regime shifts in Lake Erie and attempting to construct a carbon balance.
See a list of publications located on the Publications page.
I currently teach/have taught several classes in ecology:
My research is interdisciplinary and I expect students in my lab to master a range of numerical techniques and analytical chemistry skills (or be willing to learn them). Generally, students in my lab are encouraged to develop independent scientific research and be highly motivated. If you select a field of study that you are not really interested in, the temptation to drop out when things become difficult will be high. I welcome any inquiries from students with backgrounds in ecology, environmental sciences, environmental chemistry or geography. Students are encouraged to employ field, laboratory and theoretical approaches to their work. See a list of opportunities on the Opportunities page.