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Research Associates and Postdoctoral Associates

Diana Bernstein
PhD in Atmospheric Science, 2014, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Post Doctoral Associate Large Lakes Observatory
email: dbernste at

I received my PhD in Atmospheric Science, focusing on understanding local-regional scale variability in climate, with an emphasis on the processes that involve deep convection and impact the hydrological cycle. My research includes study of atmospheric circulation and how it responds to or is projected to respond to anthropogenic forcings. I address these issues through numerical models, including General Circulation Models and Mesoscale Meteorological Models.

In my recent work at LLO, I am interested in surface heat fluxes on the Great Lakes, particularly evaporative fluxes and their temporal and spatial structure on Lake Superior. To that end, I use numerical model simulations and available direct measurements.

Christopher T. Filstrup
PhD in Biology, 2009, Baylor University
Research Associate Large Lakes Observatory and Minnesota Sea Grant
email: filstrup at

I am interested in both basic and applied aspects of water quality, and its influence on aquatic ecosystem health and the provisioning of ecosystem services. Generally, I study how abiotic and biotic processes in lakes respond to multiple stressors, including anthropogenic activities and global change. My basic research focuses on how pelagic community structure responds to these stressors, and how these changes in turn affect ecosystem functions (e.g. nutrient cycling, primary productivity, trophic transfer efficiency). My applied research focuses on how land use and land cover characteristics, individually and combined with global climate change, affect water quality, and how these ecosystems can be managed to reduce environmental impacts. My research considers longstanding ecological theories (e.g., biodiversity-ecosystem functioning-community stability relationships, community structure, trophic dynamics) and some of the most important environmental issues facing society (e.g., cultural eutrophication, biodiversity loss, novel cyanobacteria toxins), and integrates concepts from community, ecosystem, and macrosystems ecology.


Ralph J. Garono
PhD in Aquatic Ecology, 1993, Kent State University
Research Associate Large Lakes Observatory and Natural Resources Research Institute
email: rjgarono at

I am interested in factors that structure wetland and coastal land-margin ecosystems. My research focuses on the roles that nitrogen and phosphorus play in organizing biological communities at the base of Great Lakes coastal food webs. I use a variety of field and laboratory techniques to measure nutrient bioavailability including, bioassays, in situ nutrient amendments, and physiological indicators of nutrient limitation.

My recent work characterizes the biogeochemical transformations and measures shifts in planktonic communities along the gradient formed as the water of the St. Louis River, rich in dissolved organic matter, enter the clear water of Lake Superior. In addition to measuring algal communities and nutrient transformations, I am also beginning to investigate the interactions between CDOM and nutrient biogeochemistry along this river-to-lake gradient and developing an understanding of how these ecosystem processes may be affected by changing climate and land use patterns.

Paul McKinney
PhD in Geology, 2015, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Post Doctoral Associate Large Lakes Observatory
email: p-mcki at

Nearshore areas of large lakes provide a wide range of benefits to society and serve as critical habitat for a variety of species. Exchange processes that promote mixing between nearshore and offshore areas control water quality parameters including concentrations of nutrient and suspended sediment that are vital for ecosystem functioning. The objective of my research is to improve our understanding of these processes in Lake Superior and how they affect the lake’s ecosystem.

In my graduate work I addressed these questions through analysis of satellite remote sensing images of the lake’s nearshore areas as well as numerical modeling of its thermal cycle and circulation. I use those results to inform my work at the LLO, which is focused on making direct observations of conditions in the lake using Slocum Gliders. The gliders are autonomous underwater vehicles that record temperature and other water quality parameters throughout the water column along their trajectory. They provide a unique and rich data set that promises to improve our understanding of how materials are transported between the nearshore and offshore areas of the lake.

Rajendra Poudel
PhD in Forest Resource Science, 2015, West Virginia University
Post Doctoral Associate Large Lakes Observatory
email: rppoudel at

I am primarily interested in learning and sharing a basic understanding of ecosystem services and the economic values associated with these services. Conducting such research is challenging, however it is equally important to know the trade-off of losing our ecosystems in monetary values. Working on the Great Lakes ecosystem is itself a very good opportunity to expand the ecological economics paradigm of research.

I have a varied research experience ranging from community development, agricultural economics, forestry economics, and biodiversity conservation. I have around ten years of professional experience in participatory natural resource management and sustainable rural tourism development in Nepal. More information can be obtained in

Mona Stockhecke
PhD in Earth Science, 2014, ETH Zurich
Post Doctoral Associate Large Lakes Observatory
email: mstockhe at

Lakes respond very sensitively to regional environmental changes. Sediments accumulating on their bottom record these changes, in some cases over millions of years. By drilling into the lake bottom and recovering these natural archives we shed light onto past climate and furthermore might be able to find answers about possible linkages between climate and our evolution.

I use basic sedimentological tools to understand sediment deposition next to a suite of proxy records extracted from lake sediments to reconstruct past changes in environmental and climate conditions at annual to centennial time-scales since the Pliocene. My primary research areas are located in Turkey (ICDP project PALEOVAN) and the East African rift valley (ICDP project HSPDP). Turning lacustrine mud into information; e.g. the ability to reveal the lake´s history and it's response to climate change, fascinates me.

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Last modified on 08/05/16 11:17 AM
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