Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Featured Student: Jessica Van Der Werff

Jessica Van Der Werff is a Master’s student in Water Resources Science at the University of Minnesota–Duluth. Her keen interest in water resources and their management began during her undergrad years at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. During this time, she obtained skills and experience in an aquatic ecology laboratory and as a water quality intern in southeastern Minnesota.

Jessica’s Master’s research focuses on nutrient and light stress in phytoplankton in Lake Superior. The first challenge is to collect phytoplankton and water samples at this vast scale, which means multiple cruises for Jessica throughout the summer months. This is followed by sophisticated analytical techniques (e.g., bioassays and fluorometry) to measure key indicators of stress and nutrient composition of water.

Jessica’s research occurs within the framework of a larger project on nutrient cycling dynamics, translocation of nutrients by biota, and overall productivity of Lake Superior. By describing the spatial and temporal patterns in indicators of nutrient stress in this system, Jessica will contribute important information about nutrient cycling in Lake Superior.

As Jessica plans her second summer of research cruises, she is looking forward to presenting preliminary data at the 2011 IAGLR conference in Duluth.