Heather Wander

Biological Sciences

Heather joined the Carey lab during the summer of 2019 to begin her PhD research. She is interested in using both experimental and modeling approaches to study ecosystem function in reservoirs. By framing her questions around zooplankton community dynamics and behavior, Heather hopes to understand how these organisms respond to changing environmental conditions. Additionally, Heather plans to incorporate zooplankton data into forecasting models to enhance the accuracy of water quality predictions in freshwater environments.

Heather graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a BS in Biology during the fall of 2018. While she has always loved learning about science and the environment, she first discovered her interest in freshwater ecology after her first summer of field work in 2016. During that summer, Heather became part of a team of undergraduates who conducted research on three lakes that differ in food web structure. This experience allowed her to take a leading role in developing research questions, conducting experiments, analyzing data, and practicing her science communication skills by preparing manuscripts and presenting research at conferences.

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As an undergraduate, Heather has been involved in a variety of projects, including studies on fish introductions, zooplankton community dynamics, and phytoplankton nutrient limitation in northeastern U.S. lakes. One specific project on lake zooplankton communities was integral in her desire to continue studying freshwater ecosystems; Heather conducted a series of experiments to examine the vertical distribution of zooplankton throughout the water column in the presence of different predators. Heather has also attended regional and national Global Lakes Ecological Observatory Network meetings where she has had the opportunity to network with other freshwater scientists and get involved in collaborative projects. These research experiences combined with Heather’s curiosity for the natural world led her to the Carey lab to understand the effects that climate change has on freshwater communities.

As a graduate student, Heather looks forward to exploring new questions and using interdisciplinary approaches to understand ecosystem function in freshwater systems. Through the IGC program, Heather hopes to gain more experience working on collaborative projects within the IGC community, as well as further develop her science communication and outreach skills. She is excited to study how climate change affects community interactions and ultimately ecosystem health at a broader scale.

 

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