Two laboratories on the fourth floor of Kottman Hall were recently renovated and are "ready to go,” says Lauren Pintor, assistant professor of Aquatic Ecology in the School of Environment and Natural Resources. The labs, formerly used and designed for soils research, now support the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences specialization in the School and are under the leadership of Pintor and Mazeika Sullivan, assistant professor of Aquatic and Riparian Ecosystems. The Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences specialization attracts undergraduate and graduate students interested in aquatic organisms and ecosystems with a desire to explore the sustainable use of aquatic resources and understand how to apply science to a broad range of conservation and environmental issues. This specialization offers a dynamic learning environment where students actively engage in classroom, laboratory, and field activities in streams, rivers, wetlands and lakes.
While both labs have been designed for research in aquatic science, Pintor notes there are some differences between the two. “My lab will not only be used to process and analyze samples collected in the field, but will also allow for controlled, small-scale experiments,” which is integral to Pintor’s research program focused on understanding the population and community level processes affecting aquatic ecosystems. In particular, she notes, “my research seeks to better understand the causes and consequences of invasions of non-native species on aquatic ecosystems.” Biological invasions, according to Pintor, represent one of the largest threats to native biodiversity in aquatic ecosystems. Working with Pintor in the lab are two graduate students, Lauren Hostert and Christopher Johnson, and four undergraduate honors students, Chloe Welch, Jim Palus, Heather Duncan and Sophia DeGeorgia. According to Pintor, small-scale experiments are a great year-round tool to expose budding scientists to the process of research. “We often bring organisms in the lab to do behavioral observations in order to study the mechanisms associated with interactions between native and non-native species. For students, it’s like watching Animal Planet in real time!”
Sullivan says that for him, the renovated lab is critical, especially to support the field-based ecology research program he leads and adds value to his program focused on the ecology and conservation of rivers, wetlands, and riparian areas. He notes, “The lab will more meaningfully enable linkages between my teaching and research.” Sullivan currently teaches two courses, ENR 5280 Stream Ecology and ENR 5350.01 Taxonomy and Behavior of Aquatic Invertebrates, both with significant hands-on learning opportunities for students. He and his research team, which includes five PhD students, four Master’s students, one postdoc, one undergraduate honors student, and multiple lab technicians, will use the laboratory process and analyze samples collected in the field, including organism identification and sorting and preparing samples for isotopic and contaminant analyses. Sullivan also maintains a wet laboratory at the Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park where, with support from the Ohio Division of Wildlife, he raises rare and endangered Ohio fishes for reintroduction.
Learn more about the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences specialization here.