In my laboratory, we use a variety of methods to answer our research questions. Our projects provide abundant research opportunities for students with diverse interests, strengths, and time commitments. Students can develop a range of integrated laboratory and field skills that address basic or applied questions in physiology, ecology, and environmental health.
Sampling: We use nets and traps to catch fish in lakes, rivers, springs, and wetlands.
Dissections: In Africa, I do most of my dissections outside to collect organ samples (liver, muscle, kidney, spleen, gonad).
Testing for antibiotic resistance: We collect and filter aquatic bacteria samples, plate them on prepared petri dishes, and incubate them in coolers before assessing degrees of bacterial growth.
Water quality: We conduct both long term water quality monitoring of oxygen, temperature, and conductivity using dataloggers. During fishing expeditions, we also measure conductivity, pH, temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and water nitrate levels.
Experimental studies: Recent laboratory studies include experiments to test the effects of nitrate on alligator metabolism and the effects of high phytoestrogen diets on frog development.
In the lab, students can learn the following technical skills.
- Animal tissue sampling
- Growth measurements
- Blood sampling
- Blood panels
- Enzyme immunoassays to measure hormones
- Yeast estrogen screens for phytoestrogens and water-borne estrogenic pharmaceuticals
- Heavy metal analysis of tissues
- Aging of fishes using otoliths
- Flow cytometry to measure sperm cell counts
- Basic microbiology to test for antibiotic resistance in aquatic bacterial communities
- GIS to map research sites and visualize water quality dynamics.