A native of Milwaukee, WI, Stephen obtained his Bachelors of Science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in environmental biology. During that time, he worked as a GIS intern for the United States Geological Survey monitoring how land cover has been changing in the upper Mississippi River basin since the implementation of the lock and dam system. Following graduation, Stephen started at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences as a Master’s student. His thesis was focused on how an invasive bivalve, the quagga mussel, has been changing carbon cycling in Lake Michigan. After graduating in 2016 with a Master’s in Science, Stephen moved to Virginia for his first non-academic job with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality in Virginia Beach.
This job focused on performing water quality analyses for the 305(b) 303(d) integrated report, which documents which waters fail to meet water quality standards and are in need of restoration. This work increased his interest in improving water quality and ultimately led to his current position at Virginia Tech.
Salinity and ion concentrations have been increasing in freshwaters in North America as a result of numerous human activities. Increased ion concentrations have the potential to significantly impact aquatic microbial communities and the many valuable ecosystem functions they perform. Through the Interfaces of Global Change Program, Stephen plans to use interdisciplinary research to understand the impacts of ions on microbial communities which will help improve watershed management.