Lake Superior State University
Lake Superior State University
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Alum Success

"LSSU has a great reputation for placing students in graduate and professional schools. Many of my classmates from LSSU are now pursuing graduate and professional studies at some of the finest universities in Canada and the United States."

"The student-faculty interaction and the ability to conduct research at the undergraduate level really helped me to achieve success in a competitive graduate program. My professors at LSSU were always interested in helping us succeed."

Luke Ferra of Sault Ste. Marie graduated from LSSU in 2006 with a degree in biology and is now working toward a master's degree in epidemiology at University of Western Ontario in London. He plans to continue his studies in the medical sciences.

Luke Fera '06
Biology Major


LSSU biology students hard at work
Faculty and Staff
Outstanding Faculty
Thomas Allan, Ph.D.

Thomas Allan, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
B.S. 1973, Central Michigan University
M.S. 1978, Michigan Technological University
Ph.D. 1984, University of Maine


Barbara I. Evans, Ph.D

Barbara I. Evans, Ph.D.

B.Sc. 1980 University of Ottawa, Canada
Ph.D. 1986 University of Kansas


Jason Garvon, Ph.D

Jason Garvon, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
B.S. 1998, Northern Michigan University
M.S. 2001, Northern Michigan University
Ph.D. 2005, Texas A&M University - Kingsville/Texas A&M University


Neal Godby, Jr.

Neal Godby, Jr.

Adjunct Professor
Senior Fisheries Biologist, Michigan DNR
B.S. 1994, University of Michigan
M..S. 2000, University of Michigan


Sheri Glowinski, Ph.D

Sheri Glowinski, Ph.D

Assistant Professor
B.A. 2001, Northeastern Illinois University
Ph.D. 2013, University of Southern Mississippi

Martha Hutchens, Ph.D

Martha Hutchens, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
B.S. 2003, Michigan State University
Ph.D. 2008, University of Michigan


Nancy Kirkpatrick, Ph.D

Nancy Kirkpatrick, Ph.D.

B.S. 1972, Miami University
M.S. 1979, Ph.D. 1993, Miami University-Oxford, OH


Emily Martin

Emily Martin

MS 2013, Central Michigan University
BS 2011, Northern Michigan University


Jun Li, Ph.D

Jun Li, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
B.S. 1992, Wichan University
M.S. 1995, Institute of Hydobiology
Ph.D. 2002, The Chinese University of Hong Kong


Dennis Merkel, Ph.D

Dennis Merkel, Ph.D.

B.S. 1977, MS 1983, State University of New York-Syracuse
Ph.D. 1988, Michigan State University


Ashley Moerke, Ph.D

Ashley Moerke, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
B.S. 1996, University of Minnesota Duluth
M.S. 2000, Ph.D. 2004, University of Notre Dame


Britton D. Ranson-Olson, Ph.D

Britton D. Ranson-Olson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
B.S. 1999, Lake Superior State University
M.S. 2001, Michigan Technological University
Ph.D. 2007 Oakland University


John Roese, Ph.D

John Roese, Ph.D.

B.S.F 1982, MS 1984, Stephen F. Austin State University
Ph.D. 1989, Texas A & M University
Certified Wildlife Biologist


Donna White

Department Secretary (II)



Gregory Zimmerman, Ph.D

Gregory Zimmerman, Ph.D.

Head, Department of Biological Sciences
B.S. 1977, Fort Hays State University
M.S. 1981, Oklahoma State University
M.S. 1983, North Dakota State University
Ph.D. 1987, Colorado State University



The senior thesis is the capstone experience for all students in the School of Biological Sciences at LSSU. Students choose a topic, design a study, collect and analyze the data, write a scientific paper and present the information to the university community and interested members of the public. Projects typically take 2 years for the students to design and complete, and often address practical issues of local biological and environmental concerns. Students work on these projects, as professional scientists, in conjucntion with a faculty mentor.

Faculty and staff with Lake Superior State University's biology and chemistry departments pose with an enlarged cover of the Journal of Great Lakes Research, published by the International Association for Great Lakes Research. Behind them is the International Bridge that spans the St. Mary's River and the US-Canadian border. This special issue of the Journal dealt exclusively with the ecology of the St. Mary's River, and was co-edited by biology professor Ashley Moerke and chemistry professor Marshall Werner. It features ten papers about the river, eight of which are authored by nine LSSU students and ten faculty and staff. Four papers received awards at the 2012 IAGLR meeting in Cornwall, Ont., for being the top 25 most cited in 2011. From left are authors Barb Keller, dean of the College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences; chemist Ben Southwell, manager of LSSU's Environmental Analysis Laboratory; biology professor Greg Zimmerman; Marshall Werner; Ashley Moerke, who is also co-director of LSSU's Aquatic Research Laborartory; and Roger Greil, Aquatic Research Laboratory manager.

Outside the Classroom

"I have a number of projects I do that through the Binational Public Advisory Council that involve addressing local environmental concerns in the St. Marys River. It's not just academics, but also working with the community on real, current concerns. I rely on students to do a lot of that work. They have taken on responsibilities beyond what a typical undergrad would do. As a result, they've left here with very impressive resumes that helped them secure jobs in that field."

--Greg Zimmerman

Outstanding Support

Students at Lake Superior State University chose biology professor Ashley Moerke Ph.D. as the 2011 recipient of the university's Excellence in Academic Advising Award.

Moerke has mentored more than 35 undergraduate students on thesis projects. More than half of these thesis students have presented their research at regional or national scientific meetings. She has also published more than 20 scientific papers and book chapters, nine of which were authored or co-authored by LSSU undergraduates. In her role as biology professor and co-director of LSSU's Aquatic Research Laboratory, she has acquired grant funding to employ more than 30 LSSU students and provide many more with excellent hands-on experiences. She has encouraged and supported 100-plus students to attend professional scientific conferences and helped them foster professional networks.

Her former students are in graduate study or professional research positions at Michigan State University, University of Michigan, University of Notre Dame, University of Florida, Idaho State University, Utah State University, Colorado State University, Central Michigan University, Northern Michigan University, and the University of Wisconsin.

Many have careers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Michigan DNR and DEQ; state departments of fish and wildlife in California, Florida, and Wyoming; the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources; and various nature centers and watershed councils.


Investigat- ing the Use of QPCR: An Early Detection Method for Toxic Cyano- bacterial Bloom

Garrett Aderman

Harmful algal blooms (HABs), including cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CHABs), are a global phenomenon. In the US, annual economic loss due to HABs was recently estimated at $82 million. Furthermore, the consensus amongst the scientific community is that the frequency and duration of CHABs in freshwater systems will increase as a result of climate change and anthropogenic nutrient enrichment. Due to the ability of some strains of CHAB genera to produce toxic compounds, larger and more sustained CHAB events will become an even greater threat to drinking water. Of all the known cyantoxoins, one of the most ubiquitous is microcystin (MCY). Humans are primarily exposed to cyantoxins through drinking water consumption and accidental ingestion of recreational water. The increasing risk presented by these toxins requires health officials and utilities to improve their ability to track the occurrence and relative toxicity. Current tracking methods do not distinguish between toxic and non-toxic strains. Biochemical techniques for analyzing the toxins are showing considerable potential as they are relatively simple to run and low cost. My goal was to develop a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) method to measure the amount of mcyE gene in a Lake Erie drinking water and compare the levels of the mcyE to toxin produced. This is the first step to determining if the presence of mcyE of the mycrocystin synthestase gene cluster in Microcystits, Planktothrix and Anabaena cells can be used as the quantitative measurement in an early detection warning system for recreational and drinking waters.

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