Biological Sciences

Research Labs and Vessels

Michael Gretz

Analytical Laboratory for Great Lakes Exploration

Location: GLRC 219, 223
Contact: Michael Gretz

The Analytical Laboratory for Great Lakes Exploration (ALGE) allows researchers from a variety of fields to access an ever-growing collection of front-line analytical tools. ALGE provides separation technology, spectrometry, and spectroscopy for molecular and ionic species important to both basic and applied research.

The lab supports sample preparation and analysis in gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, ultraviolet/visible spectroscopy, analytical microscopy, and protein and DNA analysis.

Current projects

Transfer of heavy elements through food webs
Transfer of organically bound silica, copper, and mercury from wetlands and rivers into lakes
Biochemistry, metabolomics, eco-toxicity, and biomarkers in the geosphere and ambient environment

Nancy Auer and Casey Huckins

 Aquatic Ecology Lab

Location: GLRC 111, 113, 117
Contact: Nancy Auer, Casey Huckins

Study threatened and endangered species ecology in both large-scale and small-scale wet-lab setups in the Aquatic Ecology Lab. This lab has large stream units, which allow us to rear and hold fishes—and other organisms—at a variety of temperatures and light conditions. Our large circular tank also enables us to study fish-group behavior.

The outdoor portion of our lab features mesocosms for studying larger fish—their growth, predator/prey interactions, and invasive species impacts.

Current projects include

  • The effect of varying concentrations of substances, like road salts, on aquatic organisms
  • Organism interaction studies, like predator/prey densities
  • Large-fish (lake sturgeon and coaster brook trout) life history studies

Amy Marcarelli

Aquatic Ecosystem Ecology Lab

Location: Dow 714
Contact: Amy Marcarelli

This lab studies biogeochemical cycles and linkages between physical, chemical and biological structure and function in streams, rivers and lakes.

Our research falls into 3 general categories:

  1. Ecosystem function responses to stream and lake restoration
  2. Consequences of subsidies at different trophic levels for stream ecosystems
  3. Biogeochemical linkages between streams and lakes

Researcher looking into a microscope in the Cardiovascular and Electrophysiology Lab

Cardiovascular and Electrophysiology Lab


Location: Dow 414
Contact: Qinghui Chen

This lab aims to understand how the central autonomic system regulates cardiovascular function and body fluid and sodium homeostasis. The focus of lab research is to identify the neural mechanisms of sympathetic activation in cardiovascular diseases and metabolic disorders. Multi-level approaches—ranging from the whole-animal study to ion-channel recordings, molecular biology and gene manipulation—are currently being applied to research projects. This research represents shared interests between the Departments of Biological Sciences and Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology.

Researchers monitoring results on a computer of a participant running on a treadmill with a mask on.

Clinical and Applied Human Physiology Laboratory

Location: Dow 731
Contact: John Durocher

The Clinical and Applied Human Physiology Laboratory is primarily focused on developing and implementing preventative lifestyle strategies for those with metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors such as visceral obesity, high triglycerides, low high-density lipoproteins, pre-hypertension, and pre-diabetes. These strategies may include interventions such as: specific exercise programs, dietary modification, stress reduction, and adequate sleep. The laboratory has a secondary focus on sport-specific exercise assessment and prescription for hockey players and endurance athletes.

Faculty member showing a plant to a student

Environmental Bioremediation Lab

Location: Dow 511
Contact: Rupali Datta

Research is focused on the application of plant biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology and microbiology in solving environmental problems using phytoremediation and plant-microbe interactions. Current research projects include: Phytoremediation of lead paint contaminated soil using vetiver grass, understanding the mechanism of lead tolerance by vetiver grass using proteomics and metabolomics, Role of vetiver and vetiver root-associated microorganisms in uptake and transformation of antibiotics, phytomremediation of heavy metals in mining- impacted soils, Use of vetiver grass for uptake and transformation of RDX, biofuel production from plants grown on marginal lands.

Charles Kerfoot behind a microscope

Invasive Species Lab

Location: GLRC 103
Contact: Charles Kerfoot

Explore the impacts of exotic species throughout the Great Lakes region in the Invasive Species Lab. The lab is named in honor of Dr. Lisa Drake, a distinguished physical scientist studying aquatic invasive species at the Center for Corrosion Science and Engineering in Key West, Florida.

As serious threats to the Great Lakes food web continue to mount, the Invasive Species Lab provides a first-rate facility for researchers to use to monitor, predict, and mitigate exotic invaders. Invasive species being studied in the lab include quagga mussels, zebra mussels, spiny water fleas, Daphnia, and other introduced micro-crustaceans.

Current Projects

  • Documenting food-web impacts of exotic species in the Great Lakes and inland lakes
  • Determining effects of global climate change on the inter-related Great Lakes system
  • Using sediment cores to examine long-term hypotheses of evolution
  • Evaluating regional effects of mining on lake ecosystems

RV Agassiz on open water
Rear of RV Agassiz
Sideview of RV Agassiz
Students using a net on the RV Agassiz
Putting the RV Agassiz in water
Students on the RV Agassiz kneel while a researcher explains

RV Agassiz

Locations: Great Lakes Research Center
Contact: Jamey Anderson

Situated along the banks of the Keweenaw Waterway—and connected to Lake Superior—Michigan Tech’s campus is a haven for freshwater science researchers. Providing ready access to the islands, open waters, and many embayments of Lake Superior, the RV Agassiz offers students, faculty, and staff from Michigan Tech, other universities, government laboratories, and industrial partners an opportunity to explore the science of this mighty natural resource.

Northern Watershed Studies

The Northern Watershed Ecosystem Project conducts long-term research, inventory, and monitoring in a small network of legally-protected research sites located in National Parks and Preserves. The project goal is to gain understanding of the structure and function of representative ecosystems and their response to stressors. Most sites have been under study for 20+ years. The network of sites represents a diverse set of natural ecosystems from the northern hardwood-boreal ecotone to the taiga-tundra tree line.

Learn more about Northern Watershed Studies