Research in the Strauss Lab

Research in my lab at UWL centers on ecosystem level processes in freshwater environments. I am particularly interested in the biogeochemistry of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in streams and rivers. This broad interest has linked me up with students and collaborators that have pursued several related lines of research including the role of macrophytes in nutrient and particle retention in streams, hydrological modeling of solutes in streams, food web ecology, stream metabolism, and surveys of water quality.

Based out of La Crosse Wisconsin I am fortunate to have a wide variety of aquatic ecosystems within a very short distance of campus. For example, the UWL campus sits adjacent to a large urban riverine marsh and only a couple kilometers away is the main channel of the Mississippi River and all of its connected and diverse habitats. Also, we are located in the middle of the Driftless Area with a drainage system based on cold water trout streams. The only thing missing in the immediate area are natural lakes, but those are just a short drive away up in northern Wisconsin.

I am always on the lookout for interested and dedicated undergraduate and graduate students (UWL has a Masters Degree program in Biology). If you are interested in pursuing a research program in my lab I encourage you to contact me for more information.

Dustin McHenry (2017-present)
Dustin is a UWL Aquatic Science graduate and decided to stay local for his graduate education. His research is examining the seasonal patterns of macrophyte biomass in Spring Coulee Creek and what effects that has on phosphorus uptake rates and whole-stream metabolism.

Matt Barbour (2015-present)
Matt is a full time employee at the USGS lab here in La Crosse and in his "spare time" he is pursuing a Masters Degree at UWL. His research is focused on predicting sediment carbon deposition in reservoirs. His approach has been a combination of using GIS analysis, national sediment deposition databases, and ground truthing sediment carbon content.

Katie Bohrman (2014-2017)
Katie was an undergraduate researcher in my lab that decided to stay on and get a MS degree. Her research was to originally link the geomorphology of Spring Coulee Creek to transient storage and phosphorus uptake rates. However, she quickly added a focus on macrophytes and how they can affect storage and phosphorus uptake.

Amanda Milde (2013-2016)
Amanda is a homegrown talent and UWL alum. She went off to work for a bit at the USGS before deciding she wanted to get a MS degree (that was a good decision). Her project was a collaborative effort with the USGS lab in La Crosse and she examined seston quantity and quality in the Upper Mississippi River, mostly down by Keokuk, Iowa. Her results are being used to predict the impact of the invasive Asian carp on riverine ecosystems.

Whitney Swanson (2013-2016)
Whitney really likes plants. As an undergraduate student here at UWL she conducted an experiment to examine soil nutrient availability, nitrification rates, and other processes in a UMR floodplain forest in response to reed canary grass invasion, flooding, and various management practices. This was a collaborative study associated with other research projects of Dr. Meredith Thomsen and Dr. Nate De Jager (USGS, UMESC). The project grew in scope and she elected to stay on and turn the whole thing into a MS Thesis.

Jenna Merry (2011-2015)
Jenna has always been a fish squeezer at heart. When she came across the river from Winona State to do her MS research at UWL, it was no suprise that she wanted to pursue something in fish ecology. Of course I had to insert a little ecosystem ecology into her project so the compromise was a project investigating the influence of macrophytes on slimy sculpin distribution & food web structure in Driftless Area streams.

Rachel Olmanson (2011-2014)
Rachel earned her B.S. degree in Biology from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2006. She worked for an NGO for a few years before deciding that a MS Degree was needed to get where is wanted to go in her career. Her project was an ambitious seasonal water quality (C, N, P concentrations) survey of 77 Driftless Area streams to explore the effect of land use on water quality.

Robert Mooney (2011-2014)
Rob loves doing research. As an undergrad here at UWL, Rob did a few projects related to nutrient limitation of algal growth before he moved onto his nitrogen/phosphorus stoichiometry work with a local Driftless Area cased caddisfly species. That project transitioned into his thesis research. Rob won several awards for his research presentations at regional, national, and international meetings and was co-advised by Dr. Roger Haro

Shane Symmank (2009-2011)
Factors regulating ecosystem-level processes of periphyton in a backwater lake of the Upper Mississippi River. Specfically, Shane examined the effects of substrate type and nutrients on primary production, secondary production, and respiration of the autotrophic and heterotrophic members of the periphyton community. Shane also discovered that the Mississippi River can relentlessly flood out a graduate students research project.

Brad Austin (2006-2008 at Fort Hays State University)
Brad was my first graduate student and his work ethic set the bar pretty high for all my future students. His research looked at the nitrification and denitrification response to varying periods of desiccation and inundation in a western Kansas stream.