Archived News

Student Success


Congratulations to Kendra Reininga, who recently accepted a job offer from an environmental consulting firm located in Indiana, Creek Run. She will begin work shortly after graduating later this semester. Kendra has been involved with environmental research at the ISU Paleolimnology Lab for the past 2 years and she has worked on lake projects at Shakamak State Park and northwestern Indiana, and is currently also working as a student research assistant on the NSF funded HSPDP study at Baringo Basin.

Recent Publications

     This publication stemmed from some of our research on alpine lakes and the influence of nitrogen on diatom populations. Krista was a PhD student at the University of Maine and our time there overlapped. This project brings a long-term perspective to the influence of meltwater on changes in fossil diatom assemblages.

GSA 2014

Our lab sent 4 students (Matt Brindle, Jase Hixson, Sabrina Brown, and Kendra Reininga) to the GSA annual meeting in Vancouver at the end of October. Each of the students presented posters on their own research projects and Sabrina Brown also presented a talk about some of her work on Emerald Ash Borers on ISU's campus from her days as an undergraduate. Topics for the posters spanned from research on paleo-Lake Turkana, to eutrophication and nutrient cycling in Indiana state parks, to some new research from a lake in the Beartooth Mountains. If you weren't able to make the trip up to Vancouver, all of the posters are now available for viewing as a PDF.

Recent Publications



The diatom data from Foy Lake, Montana, was instrumental in this publication, entitled "Prolonged instability prior to a regime shift", which was published this month in the Public Library of Science journal. The bulk of the work looking at the shifts in diatom regimes and modeling diatom response to climate change was done by Sheri Fritz's PhD student, Trisha Spanbauer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

SURE 2014


As the summer of 2014 comes to a close, we can look back on another successful SURE program session. This summer's research as the ISU Paleolimnology lab included work from four students (Casey Boose, Alan McCune, Erica Memmer, and Shana Shepard). Their projects for the summer ranged from diatom analysis of a core from the Beartooth Mountains, to phosphorus extractions from lakes in eastern Indiana, to modern diatom sampling and water chemistry for lakes in the greater Wabash River Valley, to preparing sediment samples from a small pond on the St. Mary of the Woods campus. Our lab worked closely with Jen Latimer's lab (and SURE 2014 students David McLellan and Tina Williams) on several projects, including collecting a core from Goose Pond, collecting a number of samples and cores from region, and sharing a number of research projects for geochemical analyses.

HSPDP: Afar ICD Trip and Turkana Diatoms

Graduate student Sabrina Brown has spent the past 2 weeks at the LacCore facility at UMN, working with researchers from the Afar component of the HSPDP collecting samples, splitting cores, logging cores, and after putting in relentless 12-hour days in the lab, she has returned with about 800 low-resolution diatom samples from the Afar cores and nearly 3000 high-resolution diatom samples collected from diatomites in the Afar, Baringo, and Turkana cores.

Meanwhile, back at the ISU Paleolimnology Lab, undergraduate and graduate student researchers have been pushing to get the samples collected from the Lake Turkana cores processed and made into slides. Graduate student Matt Brindle is just now starting to make the initial scan through the slides and has found a few examples of endemic species. Shown above is a diatom closely related to Surirella turkanensis, which has an odd feature where it curls near both apices.

Chain O'Lakes State Park

Graduate student Jase Hixson and his field crew including undergraduates Alan McCune and Nick Spendal went to Chain O'Lakes to collect a long core (Boliva) from Long Lake. While there, Jase gave a presentation to the park's staff over his initial findings from the 9 short cores he collected along the length of the park in the fall of 2013. The park has been experiencing severe cyanobacteria blooms over the past decade or so, and Jase's research looks to explore the potential causes and consequences of nutrient cycling in these flow-through lake systems.

The trip was the first true test of the ISU Paleolimnology Lab's (designed and built) coring platform (known in the lab as "Zelda" or "Tri-force" because of its triangular design). The coring platform (shown above) is modular - it breaks into 4 folding triangular elements, each supported by their own inner tube - and has a moon pool opening and can be anchored from each point of the triangle to create a stable coring surface that can fit into the back of a hatchback along with a 3-person inflatable Zodiac.

GSA North Central Meeting 2014

The ISU Paleolimnology Lab group was represented by one graduate student (Matthew Brindle) and two undergraduate students (Kendra Reininga and Alan McCune) at this year's Annual Meeting of the North-Central Section of Geological Society of America.

Matthew (shown left) presented some preliminary diatom data on his research from two lake cores collected on last summer's trip to Glacier National Park. The focus of the research is Holocene changes in mixing depth, reconstructed from fossil diatom assemblages in the lakes.

Alan and Kendra presented the first look at their cores from Shakamak State Park, Indiana, which were collected earlier this spring from the frozen surfaces of Lenape and Shakamak Reservoirs. Despite these impoundments having similiar origins, the cores show remarkably different histories for the last 50 years, indicating the influence of differences in land use and water source origins. Their poster can be viewed online here.

Crossroads Conference 2014

Graduate students in the lab, Jase Hixson and Matt Brindle, had poster presentations at this year's Crossroads Conference, which takes place in Bloomington at Indiana University. Jase presented an update on his research at Chain O'Lakes State Park, including the diatom stratigraphy from 4 short cores from lakes along a transect through the park. For those of you who missed the conference, the full poster can be viewed here. Some of his initial conclusions are that over time, nutrient levels within the lakes have increased due to agriculture and possibly contamination from the on-site corrections facility.

Matthew Brindle was a co-author on a poster presented by Nicole Terrell. Nicole is developing the geochemistry of the lake sediments from Cosley Lake, in Glacier National Park. The main thrust of Nicole's research is to explore different states of phosphorus in the lake sediments and potentially to relate them to erosion and diatom productivity in the lake through the late Holocene.

Wabashiki - Coring Trip

We took the new Livingstone sediment corer out for a twirl in the Wabashiki Wetland area recently. Two undergraduate researchers from our lab (Cory Portwood & Kendra Reininga) and one from Jennifer Latimer's lab (Zachary Nickerson) went out recently to collect sediment cores.

These short, peat-topped cores are part of some student research investigating the influence of urban areas on wetland sediment chemistry. This research, led by Zachary Nickerson, is analyzing several sites around the Wabashiki wetland area, exploring for Lead and other elements that might be present in unusually high concentrations in the sediment.

Additional cores will be collected in the wetlands around Goose Pond near Linton, Indiana to provide some context for these more urban wetlands. The results from these cores are to be compared against previous research from the nearby International Paper Holding Pond to see how the sediment chemistry differs.

Recent Publications

Work with Courtney Wigdahl over the past couple years has just resulted in new publication entitled "The influence of basin morphometry on the regional coherence of patterns of diatom-inferred salinity in lakes of the northern Great Plains (USA)" - this article looks at a set of Great Plains lakes in the same region that show variable responses through time to similar climate signals because of the interaction of changing salinity and depth with lake basin morphometry.

Shakamak State Park - Coring Trip

In late January, student researchers from the ISU Paleolimnology Lab went out for their first fieldwork on a frozen lake surface to collect cores from Shakamak, Lenape, and Kickapoo Reservoirs, located near Jasonville, IN. Ice on the reservoirs was about 6 inches thick. Griffith cores were recovered from Shakamak and Lenape Reservoirs, spanning about 70 cms and a short surface core was taken from Kickapoo, using the HTH corer.

These cores will are currently being processed and will be analyzed by undergraduate student researchers Alan McCune and Kendra Reininga through the spring semester. Alan and Kendra will be analyzing the sediment for fossil diatoms to explore the history of sedimentation and eutrophication of the region. Shakamak and Lenape Reservoirs were both built around the same time and impounded water outflows from both of these systems into the Kickapoo Reservoir, which was built significantly later. The history of the reservoirs and the changes in water quality through time are of interest to park managers who need to be able to assess how the water quality has changed through changes in land use. Both students are planning to present their results at the North-Central Section of Geological Society of America, held later this spring in Lincoln, Nebraska.

LacCore Visit - East African Lakes

Graduate students from the ISU Paleolimnology Lab, Jase Hixson and Matt Brindle, traveled to the the LacCore facility in the middle of November to help process and sample the cores from Lake Turkana. This is the first in a series of paleolake cores taken from the East African Rift Valley that are part of the HSPDP research grant. Over the next 5 years, the ISU Paleolimnology Lab will be analyzing the diatom records from several paleolakes from East Africa, including some paleolakes located in Ethiopia and Kenya.

The diatom record from the Lake Turkana core will likely provide significant clues about the climate changes that may have affected human evolution. We will begin analyzing this core in the spring of 2014, and this research will form a significant part of Matt's dissertation. The Lake Turkana core was over 200 meters long and was sampled every 32 cms, produce about 700 diatom slides to be analyzed.

In December, members from our lab will be returning to the LacCore facility at the University of Minnesota to collect additional samples from the Tugen Hills / Baringo Basin paleolake cores. The diatom record from these sediments will be analyzed by Dr. Karlyn Westover and Dr. Jeffery Stone over the course of the next two years.

GSA / IRC Scientific Meetings

It's been a busy October for the ISU Paleolimnology Lab as we've had 2 student posters and 2 talks presented at scientific meetings.

Sabrina Brown presented her research on Dock Lake, Indiana at the Rose-Hulman Institute's 10th annual IRC Student Research Symposium and contributed to Jase Hixson's poster on the eutrophication of lakes in the Chain O'Lakes State Park ecosystem, presented at the GSA annual meeting in Denver.

Cory Portwood present a talk at GSA on his undergraduate research from the International Paper holding pond in Terre Haute's Historic Industrial Park.

We also presented a talk on the recent developments from lake-level reconstruction of the Paleolake Mababe, Botswana - which integrates to research of Drs. Stone and Latimer to provide a 75,000+ year continuous record from the Middle Kalahari Desert.

Chain O'Lakes State Park

Jase Hixson and his field crew recently returned from a weekend at Chain O'Lakes State Park, where he's developing his graduate research project looking at recent sediment from 9 interconnected lakes. The field crew collected 9 short cores from 9 lakes in just about 9 hours.

The project uses changes in the fossil diatom assemblages to track the response of the lake to changes in land use and, in particular, seeks to track the flow of phosphorus and nitrogen through the interconnected lakes by utilizing diatoms that are sensitive to eutrophication. Eutrophication is a serious problem with the state park, because over the past 10 years the park has lost visitors as a result of nuisance blooms of cyanobacteria.

North American Diatom Symposium 2013

We finished off a productive summer with a trip to Bar Harbor, Maine, to the NADS 2013 meeting. The Paleolimnology lab had 3 undergradates (Kenneth Cleghorn, Jared Foster, and Cory Portwood) presenting posters on their SURE 2013 projects from the urban ponds around Terre Haute and 2 graduate students (Matthew Brindle and Jase Hixson) presenting posters on their proposed thesis research. Additionally, Stone presented research on the freshly-completed counts from the ~76,000-year record from Paleo-Lake Mababe (Botswana). Student posters from the meeting are available as links in the publications section of the site. Expanded discussions of the student research and more from Paleolake Mababe will be presented at the upcoming GSA Fall (2013) Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

Glacier National Park Research

This summer we cored Cosley and Glenn's Lakes, in the northwestern corner of Glacier National Park, as part of Matt Brindle's MS research. Along with the three cores we collected, sediment samples were collected from around the lake margin as part of geochemical data to be analyzed in Jen Latimer's Lab.

The field work included a 10 mile hike and 3 days in the back country to collect the cores and sediment material. Two undergraduates and three graduates were involved in the trip.

Along the way, we also collected a 1.5 meter core from Island Lake, Wyoming, located near the top of the Beartooth Mountains - at an elevation of almost 10,000 feet. All of the sediment cores collected are part of ongoing research that ties the fossil record of diatoms from lake sediment to changes in wind strength in the Rocky Mountain region through the Holocene.

SURE Program (2013)

Cyclotella ocellata

We had three students from the ISU Paleolimnology Laboratory that participated in ISU's 2013 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE). Their projects included analysis of fossil diatoms in ponds around Terre Haute, where they studied the possible effects and recovery of eutrophication.

All three projects were analyzed this past summer and were ultimately presented by the undergraduate students at the North American Diatom Symposium this fall in Bar Harbor, Maine.


Recent Publications

We have two recent publications:  1) a book section on Lake Levels in North America (with Sherilyn Fritz) in the new Encyclopedia of Quaternary Sciences, published in April, 2013, and 2) an article in The Holocene on some research from Cumbres Bog, New Mexico, with Brad Johnson and other researchers.

 Two graduating seniors (Saundra Smart and Sarah Brinkmann) have recently presented research on the effects of Acid Mine Drainage on West Little Sugar Creek at the Geological Society of America Regional Meeting in Kalamazoo

In the fall of 2012, our article on using diatoms to reconstruct mixing depths in low nutrient lake settings was published in Ecology. A photo from Hidden Lake, Glacier National Park, where our research was done, was published on the cover.

You can download a copy of this article, entitled "Climate-induced changes in lake ecosystem structure inferred from coupled neo- and paleoecological approaches" is the first in a series of articles in a collaborative effort between Jasmine Saros' Diatom Ecology Laboratory at the Climate Change Institute (University of Maine) and our paleolimnology lab.

You can download the article from the Ecology website.