The Oregon Lakes Association as part of its scholarship and outreach commitment offers an annual $1000 academic scholarship, plus up to $200 travel expenses to OLA's annual conference. Interested applicants should be enrolled (or will be enrolled by the time the award is accepted) in an Oregon college or university graduate program in a field related to the study of Oregon lakes, ponds or reservoirs and their watersheds. An applicant may also be enrolled in a graduate college or university graduate program outside of Oregon if the study project will involve Oregon lakes, ponds or reservoirs. Download the full scholarship announcement for 2018!
Congratulations to our 2018 academic scholarship winner — Laura Costadone — Portland State University.
Laura grew up in Turin, capital of the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. She completed a five-year degree at the University of Turin (Italy) graduating with a degree in Environmental Science and Technology. She was awarded an Erasmus Scholarship, a European High Academic Achievement Award. This scholarship provided one year of study at the University of Castilla - La Mancha (UCLM) in central Spain. The Erasmus Scholarship allowed her to participate in an extensive study on preserving local plant varieties against biodiversity threats and influences such as invasive species and pollution.
She then collaborated for two years with Agroinnova (Centre of Competence for the Innovation in the Agro- Environmental Sector at the University of Turin) studying the impact of agricultural activities on the environment including the effects of nutrients, pesticides and the use of water resources. This experience provided a solid background in laboratory techniques, quantitative skills, the critical foundation for conducting graduate level research, and most importantly, taught me the level of dedication and work ethic required for successful independent research. From this experience she decided to pursue a PhD in the United States.
She secured a scholarship to pursue a Master of Science at Washington State University. The focus of her master thesis was to establish the protocol for the detection and quantification of airborne fungal pathogens using DNA in field-collected samples. The main goal was to potentially reduce fungicide usage through early and accurate identification of the pathogen. This project also involved working directly with growers in reducing the number of fungicide applications and informing them about the most environmentally friendly strategies to control grapevine plant diseases. The culmination of the above experiences provided an opportunity to travel to Adelaide (Australia) to establish a collaboration between the University of South Australia (Adelaide) and WSU.
After completing her Master’s degree at WSU, she spent some time back in Italy at the Environmental Science Department, University of Turin. Several talks on new threats like contaminants and excessive nutrients that freshwater systems are facing drew her attention. Returning to the United States, she joined Dr. Sytsma’s lab in the Center for Lakes and Reservoirs at Portland State University for her doctoral studies.
The main goal of her Ph.D. research is to incorporate molecular tools into a routine harmful algal blooms (HAB) monitoring program. She will address the hypothesis that qPCR can detect the onset of harmful algal blooms earlier than the traditional monitoring programs. Research will be conducted in Oswego Lake (OR) but has applicability in all lakes with cyanobacteria blooms. Real-time quantitative PCR will be used to implement the HABs monitoring program that has been maintained by the Lake Oswego Corporation since 2000. Phytoplankton samples will be collected weekly and identified using both morphological and molecular methods. The genotype of the Oswego Lake phytoplankton community composition will be characterized using PCR. Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, Dolichospermum flos-aquae and Microcystis aeruginosa are the dominant species of cyanobacteria in Oswego Lake. Microcystis and Dolichospermum are genera of cyanobacteria known to produce the toxin microcystin that poses a serious risk to water quality4. Some of the strains present in the lake are likely toxigenic. A qPCR will be used for monitoring toxic genotype dynamics and predict toxin concentration in water to establish the minimum threshold cell number for toxic contamination events.
At Portland State University, she has access to a variety of resources and collaborators to further develop the skills needed to become a successful scientist and an effective communicator. Her ultimate goal is to share knowledge and enthusiasm for science through teaching and research at the university level. She will use the OLA scholarship funds to complete the molecular methods she is using to characterize the phytoplankton community composition and monitoring toxic genotype dynamics in Oswego Lake (OR).
Please join us on September 26-28 for our annual meeting in Portland, which this year is being held jointly with the Washington State Lakes Protection Association (WALPA). Laura will present results on her Ph.D. research.
2019 Scholarship Donation Goal
Thus far OLA has provided over $8,000 in scholarships and travel expenses to the recipients. Please consider donating to the Scholarship Fund today, so we can sustain this program well into the future. Please consider donating today!
In recognition of some of our recent donors...Thank You!