Scavia Lab

I have been so impressed with the students, postdocs, and visiting scholars that have been part of our research team over the years.  This current cohort outlined below is no exception!  You can see the our Great Lakes and coastal marine projects here.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Nathan (Nate) Manning: Assessing the interface between aquatic and terrestrial systems.

Nate’s primary interests are on how anthrnate_manningopogenic activities in a watershed can alter the downstream aquatic systems. Current research focuses on predictive modeling of harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. Previous research linked Individual Based Models of yellow perch growth and survival with laboratory derived feeding rates to predict how changes in sediment and algal turbidity regimes can affect changes at the population level, and mapping the overlap between ecosystem services and ecological stressors in Lake Erie.

Nate received his undergraduate degree from Wittenberg University (Biology), MS from the University of Akron (Wetlands Ecology), and Ph.D. from the University of Toledo (Aquatic Ecology).

Awoke Dagnew Teshager: Eco-hydrological watershed modeling to evaluate the impact of change in land management and climate on water quality and quantity


Awoke’s primary research involves using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). His previous research focused on quantifying water quantity and quality impacts of change in climate and land use, identifying critical source areas in an agricultural watershed, and evaluating effectiveness of targeted implementation of management practices on certain water quality parameters.

Awoke’s broader research interest includes coupling of hydraulic, hydrologic and groundwater models to evaluate long-term impacts of change in land use and climate on ecosystem services in urban and/or agricultural watersheds and assess possible mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Yao Hu: Modeling and Analysis of the Impacts of Changes in Watershed DynamicsYao_Hu

Yao’s primary research is interactions between human and environmental systems. He has coupled agent-based and environmental models to investigate interactions between farmers and groundwater He received bachelor’s degrees in Civil Engineering and Computer Science from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China, M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Hamburg University of Technology, Hamburg, Germany and PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

His broader interests include environmental system analysis, modeling, simulation and optimization, data analytics and software development for environmental decision-making systems. Yao is also interested in collaborating across disciplines to address challenging environmental problems.


Rebecca (Becca) Logsdon: Watershed modeling to evaluate land management and ecosystem services in watersheds

RAL1megBecca’s primary research involves using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) . Her previous research focused on developing quantification methods for evaluating ecosystem services at the watershed scale, utilizing both environmental models (SWAT, DayCent) as well as observed field and lab collected data.

Becca’s broader research interests include evaluating diversified cropping systems and management, as well as urban best management practices for their impact on ecosystem services and human well-being. Her interdisciplinary interests also encompass stakeholder engagement, citizen science, and educational outreach programming. She received her MS and PhD from Purdue University (Agricultural & Biological Engineering) and her B.S. from the University of Arkansas (Biological Engineering).

Serghei Bocaniov: Modeling the interaction between physical and biogeochemical processes in large lakes.


Serghei’s primary research interest is to study the interaction between physical and biogeochemical processes in large lakes using a combination of numerical modelling and field studies to investigate specific processes of interest as following: (i) response of phytoplankton communities including harmful algal blooms to changing nutrient loads, physical and biological disturbances and climate change; and, (ii) prediction and development of hypoxia and anoxia in lakes depending on the external nutrient loadings, internal production and variability in climate; and, (iii) winter dynamics of phytoplankton and nutrients in large ice covered lakes.

Isabella Bertani: Understanding how local and global stressors affect the functioning of freshwater ecosystems and communities

Isabella BertaniIsabella has integrated hydrochemistry and plankton community ecology studies on diverse ecosystems throughout her career (floodplain wetlands, rivers, lakes). Her current research explores long-term trends and interannual variability in water quality and plankton community structure in Great Lakes as influenced by environmental drivers, such as changes in nutrient loads, introduction of non-indigenous species and climate change.

She completed her MS and PhD in Ecology at the University of Parma. She’s been involved in various international collaborations, including for example, the European Long Term Ecosystem Research Network (LTER-Europe). Isabella always welcomes new opportunities for collaborating across borders on innovative environmental research.

Research Associates

Yu-Chen Wang: Data processing and spatial analysis.

As a Research Associate, Yphoto_ycwu-Chen participates in several research projects in the Scavia Lab, focusing on data downloading, cleaning, and compiling water quality and geospatial data for modeling. He also applies his spatial and analytical skills on water quality hotspot mapping and visualization.

Yu-Chen’s broader research interests include building spatial or statistical models to improve the understanding of human impacts on the ecosystem and environmental quality. He has an MS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from National Taiwan University and an MS in Natural Resources and Environment with a focus in Environmental Informatics from the University of Michigan.

Colleen Long: Data processing, spatial analysis, and Remote Sensing

Colleen participates in several projects in the Scavia Lab, focused on compiling and analyzing data to help better inform watershed models and answer questionsColleen about land management throughout watersheds.

Before joining the Scavia Lab, Colleen spent four years at the Illinois State Geological Survey, where her work focused on studying the effectiveness of BMP’s on improving water quality of roadway runoff.  She received her MS from the University of North Carolina (Geology with focus on remote sensing of hydrology) and BS from the University of Michigan (Geological Sciences and PitE).

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Steve Beattie is a junior majoring in Data Science with a Complex Systems minor. He is interested in complex systems analysis and optimization, how theory can be applied (directly or indirectly) to promoting social and environmental justice.  His project, titled Optimization of farmers’ irrigation behavior for sustainable groundwater use, focused on understanding farmers’ irrigation behavior using groundwater, and optimizing their behaviors to balance agricultural profits and needs of ecosystems. 

Ashley Gignac is a freshman majoring in Environmental Science. Her project, “Evaluating the Influence of Manure Applications on Nutrient Loads in the Maumee River Watershed,” focuses on collecting and analyzing data on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to inform Maumee River Watershed nutrient balances.


Jaylene Gutierrez is a freshmanimg_6742 major
ing in Environmental Science. Jaylene is from Los Angeles, CA and a first generation college student. In her spare time she enjoys volunteering through MCSP and spending time with friends and family. Her project, titled Evaluating Water Quality “Hotspots” in the Huron-Erie Corridor, focused on identifying potential water quality “hotspots” – areas of greatest nutrient losses – for the Huron-Erie Corridor based on existing monitoring data.

Sara Hansen is a sophomore majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.  She is interested in research as a career, likely in a field related to conservation. She enjoys studying hansen_saraecosystems and the ways they are interconnected, particularly plant interactions, aquatic environments, and evolution. Her project, titled Evaluating Water Quality Hotspots in the Maumee River Watershed, focuses on collecting and analyzing stream water quality data to identify nutrient hotspots in the Maumee River Watershed.

E’Lise Harden is a freshmaelisen planning on majoring in Biology. She’s interesting in animal related studies and hopes to gain experience with computer modeling and to further her understanding of  major environmental problems. Her project, “Evaluating the Influence of Manure Applications on Nutrient Loads in the Maumee River Watershed,” focuses on collecting and analyzing data on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to inform Maumee River Watershed nutrient balances.


PostDocs and Visitors:

Margaret Kalcic: Watershed modeling to predict the impacts of land management and climate change on nutrient loading to the Great Lakes; Xiaobo Liu: Modeling, assessing and forecasting nutrient impacts and invasive species on lake/reservoir systems (2013-2014); Dan Obenour: Geostatistical Modeling of Hypoxia Formation in the Northern Gulf of Mexico and HAB formation in Lake Erie (2013-2014); Michael Manolidis: Implementing hydrodynamic modeling with particle tracking capabilities in the Great Lakes (2014); Kyung Hwa Cho; PhD watershed and water quality models (2011-2012); Mary Anne Evans: Forecasting Great Lakes and Estuarine Eutrophication, 2009-12; Ibrahim Alameddine: Modeling watersheds and receiving-water bodies, 20011-2012; Myriam Larose, Modeling land-use change impacts on water pollution, 2010-2012; Yong Liu:  Forecasting Estuarine Eutrophication, 2008-2009


Dan Rucinski: Ecological models ofthe causes of hypoxia in Lake Erie, Irem Daloglu; Diffusion of Innovations, an application to agriculture, with an emphasis on comparing policy alternatives, Dan Obenour: Geostatistical Modeling of Hypoxia Formation in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, James Roberts: Effects of hypoxia on the benthic fish community of Lake Erie’s central basin, 2010 Andrew Bell: Adaptive agricultural development in the Amazon: Informing decision with agent-based models, 2010 Chenwan Wang, Visiting PhD Student. Interested in modeling the eutrophication process, 2010; Pingjian Yang: Visiting PhD Student from Peking University.  Research topic: Modeling Lake Eutrophication


Daniel Gerding, Berry Kennedy, Makely Lyon, Josh Rego, Emily Taylor: Designing Innovative Corporate Water Risk Management Strategies from an Ecosystem Services Perspective; Alicia Ritzenthaler, Chelsea Ransom, Steve Rippberger: The primary focus of this 2011-2012 team’s project is to evaluate water management in the greater Laikipia area of Kenya and provide recommendations for water use; Caitline Ryan, Melissa Antokal, Ajay Varadharajan, Nagapooja Seeba: The 2010-2011 Mpala Wildlife Foundation Master’s Project; Julie Mida: The role of Mysis relicta in the Great Lakes ecosystem response to the loss of Diporeia, 2010 Greg Jacobs: Quantifying and modeling divergence in life history traits of juvenile largemouth bass, 2008 Dan Fishman: Ecosystem effects of invasive mussels in Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron, 2008 Erica Zontek, Brian Collerun; Ken Mori: An integrated assessment for policy options for ecotourism in Northeastern Michigan, MS Project 2007 Yuntao Zhou: Assessing screening models for estuarine eutrophication, 2006 Emily Wilke: Indicators of Ecosystem Health for the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, 2006


Jennifer Kullgren; Senior Honors Thesis: Evaluating the success of Lake Trout refuges in the Great Lakes, 2007 Carolyn Hwang; Senior Honors Thesis: The role of community participation and level of economic development in effective marine management, 2005