Aquatic Environmental Microbiology and Chemistry

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Zilber School of Public Health    




 Aug 3, 2012Dami Oluwatosin presented her poster on Escherichia coli concentrations at popular Milwaukee area beaches at the UWM OUR poster session. Congratulations Dami!

July 18, 2012Beach monitoring for E. coli continues this summer at Milwaukee area beaches led by John Hernandez (Research Technician) with help from Chelsea Weirich (PhD Student) and Dami Oluwatosin (Undergraduate Intern). This project is in collaboration with the Milwaukee Health Department. The status of beaches we monitor (South Shore, McKinley, Bradford) can be viewed at the Wisconsin Beach Health website.

July 6, 2012The lab launched a buoy today on Lake Winnebago in Northeastern Wisconsin. This is the largest lake in Wisconsin (aside from the Great Lakes), although very shallow. It is plagued by excess nutrient input and thus large accumulations of toxic algae. The buoy will measure a variety of water quality parameters and weather (to be posted shortly). This data will be reported in near real tme to a freely accessible website. The team did a great job including Mary Seaman, Chelsea Weirich and John Hernandez. Pictures below.

July 5, 2012We went looking for moorings for our new buoy today. These need to be heavy, dense, but manageable anchors. Preferrably they would be lacking in iron and toxic chemicals since we intend to place them in a lake (i.e. nothing that would be harmful to humans, wildlife, or the sustainabiliy of the ecosystem). It is a small addition to a very large lake, but we want to make sure there is zero effect on the biota. In the past we have used steel shots from a diecasting factory, molding parts and tradiitional anchors, but these were not available this time. Here are some pictures from the salvage yard where John and I found a few nice pieces of heavy steel. The guys were nice enough to burn holes in them for us so we could attach our mooring lines.

May 12, 2012Chelsea Weirich (EOH PhD student) created a public service anouncement about the dangers of coninued use of antimicrobial soaps and the proper way to dispose of them. You can watch it below. Way to go Chelsea!

March 13, 2012It's Summer in Wisconsin, but actually its not Summer yet. Apparently Mother Nature doesn't care what our calendars say because this second week of March we see temperatures in the upper 70's. That's shorts weather for Wisconsinites! But this is in no way unexpected. For the last 50 years average annual air temperatures in Milwaukee have been rising by 0.06 degrees per year. While that doesn't seem like much, the overall effect is a warmer winter and an earlier Spring/Summer as well as these odd weeks or months of unusually warm weather. From our perspective it will be interesting to see how the microbes, including toxic cyanobacteria, respond to these changes.

Nov. 23, 2011Many new and very talented faculty have joined us in the past year. You can read about them here. In addition, the Miller Lab's research was featured in the Bayview Compass here.
Oct. 28, 2011Todd's Environmental Microbiology class visits the Jones Island Wastewater Treatment Plant. This is the first plant in the United States to use activated sludge treatment and is a national engineering landmark!

Jonathan and Kevin give the tour a thumbs up!

Activated sludge, where all the (aerobic, microbial) action happens!


Oct. 9, 2011Runners /walkers from the School of Public Health had a strong showing at this year's Panther Prowl.


Sept. 20, 2011We arrived at Lake Koshkonong for sampling today to find a large accumulation of algal biomass at the boat launch. It was an impressive result of algal (cyanobacteria) growth combined with physics (i.e. winds pushing biomass to one side of the lake).

Sept. 14, 2011The Rock River below Lake Koshkonong is damned north of Janesville, WI by the Indianford Dam, since 1846. Daming of the Rock flooded the cattail marsh expanding Lake Koshkonong and resulting in a reduction in nutrient filtration and removal. As a consequence of this and increased nutrient runoff the Rock is now an impaired waterway with high nutrient N/P levels. This is an image of the high algal biomass plaguing the Rock near southern Janesville during our sampling season this year.

Aug. 22, 2011The lab is almost ready for business. A few more pieces of equipment and we are ready. Let's go!

Benches are installed and ready for graduate students!

The lonely tandem mass spectrometer awaits its air supply

Looking toward the red room!

The blue room?

July 29, 2011The lab renovation is scheduled to be finished August 12th. The pumbing is finished and we have flooring. I took a peak this week to take some pictures.

July 8, 2011: Todd's paper on genetic diversity of cyanobacteria in the Madison lake chain is now out in FEMS Microbiology Ecology. This is a basic descriptive comparison study of cyanobacteria inhabiting eutrophic lakes using a genetic approach. The study is unique in that we used 1) a culture-independent approach without any pre-screening of clones, and 2) the cyanobacterial community we present represents all taxa that occurred in the lakes throughout the open water season rather than those in just a few samples collected on random dates. Few studies (or none?) have compared cyanobacterial community composition across multiple lakes in this way before. You can find the paper here
July 8, 2011: For most of June Chelsea and Todd have been sampling Okauchee Lake in Oconomowoc and Lake Koshkonong in Rock County using our new boat! Nothing too fancy here, but certainly very functional. We installed an onboard pump and filtration apparatus so we can filter samples immediately and get them on ice as quickly as possible. Here are some photos.

The lab boat is a 16 ft. Lund with a 40 hp Mercury engine. Very functional for water sampling, getting in and out of most lakes in Wisconsin.

Onboard water filtration. On the left is the intake with filter holder and on the right is the outlet. A Shurflo 5.7 gpm smart sensor water pump is underneath.

Filtering Lake Koshkonong water

The side steer and fish sampling . . .

Apparently there are others doing (paranormal?) research on Okauchee Lake . . . we are wondering if toxic algae are not the only problems with this lake?



July 1, 2011: Todd just got back from the Battele symposium on Bioremediation and Sustainable Environmental Technologies in Reno,NV where he gave a platform presentation on wastewater bacteria involved in the degradation of Triclocarban. Casino's aside, it was a great conference. Of note, was the opportunity to see old friends like Kevin Sowers from the University of Maryland who is doing some fantastic work on use of Granulated Activated Carbon to deliver co-cultures of PCB dechlorinators and aerobic PCB degraders to contaminated sediments. See his work here 

The conference was at the Pepprmill Resort and Casino. Very nice hotel, but not the best venue for a conference


June 3, 2011: Todd and Mary were featured on the front page of the Oshkosh local newspaper (The Northwestern). Mary was playing it up for the camera (Diva!).

June 3, 2011: Todd and Mary went sampling on Lake Winnebago today with captain Brian's help! This lake is huge! It was a bit rough with 2-4 foot waves and a ~15 mph north westerly wind. Here is a picture of Brian and Mary on our way out and a video of me trying not to fall out of the boat!

May 27, 2011: The lab now has walls and a ceiling! It won't be long now!

This picture was taken in the main lab facing toward the analytical lab (on left) and anteroom (on the right)

This picture was taken from the hallway looking into the anteroom

March 24, 2011: Renovations continue. The ceiling is now removed and the duct work is exposed. More pictures to come as we progress.

March 9, 2011: Renovations have begun on the new lab. The tile has been stripped and the old benches moved to a new home. It doesn't look like much now, but that will soon change. I will post more pictures as the process continues. We can't wait to get in there and start doing science!

Feb. 6, 2011: The Packers won the super bowl! Holy S*&%! It is proven, greatness is bred and lives in Wisconsin!

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