Lab alum Ellen Irwin ’14 and her work in New Zealand, featured in their local news

Ellen’s been working and studying bird conservation in New Zealand since early winter 2015. She currently serves as Lead Ranger in the Zealandia reserve in Wellington, New Zealand. Learn more about her current work during COVID-19 here or watch the 30-sec audio+video clip of one of her birds.

Ellen Irwin on a quad bike

Ellen Irwin on a quad bike in Zealandia, Wellington, New Zealand (photo by Lynn Freeman)

2015 Ecosphere paper back in the news

I was lucky enough to be interviewed a few weeks ago for Elizabeth Dunbar’s Minnesota Public Radio on cyanobacteria (aka blue-green algae) and their role in dog deaths.  My audio was cut out of the broadcast version, but the text is available or you can listen to the extended version online. Nothing particularly profound, but it’s cool to know that our work on cyanobacteria as modifiers of lake nutrient cycling is of interest beyond the narrow realm of ecology.

Jess gets her turn in the spotlight!

Grad student Jessica Trout-Haney’s poster at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in December got picked up by Emily Benson in a story published online at Eos. Links to the piece then spread rapidly via Twitter just before the holiday break.

The piece has an interest-grabbing lede: “Giant Balls of Bacteria Pile Up on Arctic Lake Beds, Ooze Toxin” and used one of Jess’s underwater photos to further whet interest – nice examples of science journalism!

Credit to Jess Trout-Haney; published online at Eos, see link in text.

Credit to Jess Trout-Haney

Those giant balls are a colonial cyanobacterium called Nostoc, and are called “sea tomatoes” by the locals in Greenland, where Jess works during the northern hemisphere summer.  Her dissertation will include chapters about Nostoc physiology and production of toxins, especially microcystins, as well as its landscape limnology across a gradient from the fjord to the ice sheet near Kangerlussuaq.

Stay tuned for more as Jess goes into the home stretch on her thesis…. For now, though, she’s in Antarctica – follow her on Twitter @JVTHaney to see what she’s up to down there!