Research Overview

I believe human societies must strive to leave healthier aquatic ecosystems to future generations. To this end, I became an applied fish and aquatic ecologist with the goal of pursuing conservation management solutions to modern issues that imperil aquatic habitats, fisheries and the ecological services they deliver to humans. I have been involved on a range of basic and applied research questions, but most of my efforts center on developing actionable science-based solutions, and assisting conservation professionals, on problems commonly encountered in freshwater fish and mussel populations. I rely on a four-legged approach to understanding ecology that incorporates theory, manipulation, observation (especially long-term ecological research), and quantitative models and endeavor to use all of these perspectives in my work.

Freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem function are in a state of massive global decline. One of the central challenges to freshwater conservation management is that knowledge is simply lacking on ecological relationships between many species and their environments. Meanwhile, considerable attempts are made to improve ecological services with incomplete information and high uncertainty. I work at the science-policy nexus together with other ecologists, agencies, conservation practitioners, and the public, to identify critical knowledge gaps
, and ensure my research is useful for serious conservation needs. I am particularly attracted to applications of ecological theory, especially when it generates bridges towards better conservation policies and ecological resilience. I am increasingly engaged in long-term ecological research, importantly because we are living through an era of rapid environmental change, but also because slow change tends to elude our senses which can lead to blocked understanding. Finally, I am involved on several new and exciting ecosystem manipulations (on natural lakes) that we hope will produce a more general understanding of how lake ecosystems have responded to common habitat alterations by humans, and what we might be able to do to manage lakes back into safe-operating spaces.

I currently work as a research fishery ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Science Services, in Madison, WI, and also hold an appointment as a research fellow at the Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin-Madison. In both capacities, I have focused on developing novel solutions to fisheries and freshwater resource issues in Wisconsin. In the past, I held a co-operative post-doctoral research position with the US Forest Service and The University of Mississippi, Washington University in St. Louis, and served as a faculty member at Virginia Tech in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation.

Quick Links:
I am a PI on the North Temperate Lakes, Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) grant from NSF. Read more on the scope and history behind this amazing project, and download project data here:

NCEAS Working Group (community dynamics) I am a current member of: