Oregon Lakes Association

....a voice for quiet waters.


Oregon Lakes Association Graduate Student Scholarship

Oregon Lakes Association (OLA) provides and annual $1,500 graduate student scholarship opportunity to support research related to Oregon’s lakes, ponds, reservoirs, or their watersheds. The award is based on the quality of the proposed research, educational preparedness of the applicant, and significance to Oregon lakes, ponds, or reservoirs. Preference is given to applicants with career goals in fields relevant these types of waterbodies. Interested applicants must be enrolled in a college or university graduate program in the Pacific Northwest.  The 2022 application process will be opened during the winter of 2022.

Scholarship Recipients

Oregon Lakes Association has provided annual scholarships since 2012.  Find out about our past scholarship recipients and their research below.  Links to doctoral dissertations and masters theses are provided when available.

2021 - Jamila Baig 

Jamila Baig, University of Oregon PhD Student and 2021 OLA Scholarship winner

Read more about Jamila

Jamila Baig is a PhD candidate in the Environmental Sciences, Studies, and Policy and Geography Departments at University of Oregon. Jamila has a Master of Philosophy degree in Animal Sciences from Karakoram International University (KIU), Pakistan; a Master of Science degree in Zoology from University of Peshawar, Pakistan; and both Bachelor and Master of Education degrees from Notre Dame Institute of Education in Karachi Pakistan.

Jamila’s PhD research at UO aims to reconstruct paleotemperature, vegetation change, fire history, and lake productivity using chironomids, pollen, charcoal, carbon-nitrogen ratio, and C13 from a 13-m long sediment core collected from Gold Lake in Lane County. The response of terrestrial vegetation and aquatic ecology to disturbance events, such as forest fires and volcanic eruptions, can be determined from the Gold Lake core which reached back 13,000 years. This understanding of how the environment has responded to past climatic variations will help advance future climate change predictions.

Jamila is currently affiliated with KIU as faculty, and once back at KIU, Jamila would like to continue collaborative research between KIU and UO and train many young paleo-ecologists in Pakistan's mountainous region.

2020 - Lindsay Collart

Lindsay Collart, Oregon State University PhD student and 2020 OLA Scholarship winner at Klamath Lake in southern Oregon

Read more about Lindsay

Lindsay Collart is a 4th year PhD student from southeastern Ohio. She earned dual B.Sc. degrees from The Ohio State University in Molecular Genetics and Evolution, plus Ecology and Organismal Biology. In 2013, she began work as a technician at the Ohio State University’s Aquatic Ecology Laboratory, where she worked on the ecological effects of harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie and helped develop a method to quantify cyanobacterial toxin concentrations in Lake Erie sport fish.

In 2016, she began work towards a PhD in microbiology at Oregon State University, studying freshwater harmful algal blooms in Oregon Lakes. Her research merges her experience in freshwater cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms with the developing field of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). She aims to combine information on microbial and chemical ecology using advanced statistical methods and data integration, with the goal to develop a novel monitoring technique of toxin trajectories that is both time and cost efficient. She envisions that this approach could be applied using real time collection of VOCs. Lindsay is currently analyzing data collected from samples of VOCs, the microbial community, and environmental conditions at Upper Klamath Lake during 2018 and 2019.

The scholarship funds will allow Lindsay to supplement her field data with VOCs and genomic information from the cyanobacterial genera, Aphanizomenon, Gloeotrichia, and Microcystis also collected from Upper Klamath Lake. Lindsay presented her research at the 2019 OLA meeting in Bend, Oregon (https://www.oregonlakes.org/sys/website/?pageId=1775637) and the 2020 Virtual OLA Meeting (https://www.oregonlakes.org/sys/website/?pageId=1775697).

2019 - Crysta Gantz and Lara Jansen

Crysta Gantz, Portland State University PhD student at Morgan Lake (Washington),  July 13, 2017

Lara Jansen, Portland State University PhD student at Yosemite National Park, July 2015

Read more about Crysta

Crysta Gantz is a 4th year PhD Student originally from Renton, Washington. Crysta earned an undergraduate degree in Botany from the University of Washington and after working in a private microscopy lab for a couple of years, moved to Scotland to pursue an MSc at the University of Edinburgh. After finishing the degree, she returned to the US moving to Florida, where she worked as a researcher at the University of Florida. After working on this project for two years, she joined a group that was developing a risk assessment for terrestrial plants. In 2007, she began working on risk assessment for aquatic plants. In 2011, Crysta was hired to work on a grant-funded project on risk assessment at the University of Notre Dame. This project involved developing risk assessment tools for multiple aquatic organisms in the Great Lakes basin. Following this effort she wanted to pursue a PhD on projects that help preserve and protect lakes. Crysta wanted a PhD program on the West Coast so that she could be closer to family and because she missed the Pacific Northwest. She was accepted to work with Dr. Strecker so that she could learn more about limnology and aquatic ecology. Her research project is in the Columbia Basin Project in Washington State. The dissertation work combines several aspects of her past research: population genetics, aquatic ecology, landscape ecology, and aquatic invasive species. Crysta plans to use funding from the scholarship to attend the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography Summer Meeting in Madison, WI, where she is planning on presenting her research on landscape genetics of a keystone species. These funds will give Crysta a chance to interact with the top researchers in her field, which will be an invaluable opportunity. Crysta is an active student Board member of the Oregon Lakes Association and will present her research at OLA’s 2019 annual meeting in Bend. See: https://www.oregonlakes.org/

Read more about Lara

OLA’s second scholarship recipient for 2019 was Lara Jensen. Lara completed her undergraduate at UC-San Diego (BS Environmental Systems), graduating cum laude. There, she carried out her senior thesis testing for local adaptation in zooplankton to high carbon dioxide levels. She was also a field assistant for a PhD student, sampling lakes in and around Yosemite National Park. It was these experiences studying the ecology of mountain lakes that led her to pursue her doctorate degree at Portland State University, where she plans to examine the factors that influence algal blooms in high elevation lakes. As a Master’s student at Humboldt State University, Lara carried out a comparative study of benthic community structure in dam-regulated versus unregulated reaches for her thesis. The project was intended to inform the upcoming 50 year FERC relicensing of the Potter Valley Project on the mainstem Eel River in Northern California. Her research examined shifts in algal and invertebrate communities over a summer/fall season and compared this against past studies in the Eel River watershed as well as a comparison with the unimpaired Middle Fork Eel River. Lara’s PhD thesis is entitled “Do changes in climate, fish & nutrients promote harmful algal blooms in mountain lakes?” As Lara explains it: Mountain lakes are important freshwater resources due in part to their perceived pristine state, yet their isolation does not preclude them from anthropogenic disturbance. While drivers of certain shifts like species loss are generally known and some can be mitigated, the drivers of other environmental changes, like freshwater harmful algal blooms (FHABs), remain unclear and are of special concern for management. A changing climate, atmospheric nutrient deposition, and the introduction of non-native fish are among the most widespread disturbances to mountain lakes and may create favorable conditions for FHABs. The frequency of FHABs is increasing across lakes in this region, but the key factors causing these blooms are not well known. Lara will survey 30 lakes in the Oregon Cascades across gradients of temperature, fish stocking and nutrient concentrations. She will characterize the algal and invertebrate communities of the study lakes to examine the prevalence of cyanobacteria and key grazers. Sampling will occur twice in the summer, along with continuous monitoring of temperature using loggers and cyanotoxin levels using Solid Phase Absorption Toxin Tracking (SPATT) passive samplers in order to capture temporal variability. The effects of temperature, nutrients and fish on cyanobacteria dominance will be examined through mixed effect models and calculations of the predicted additive effect. Similar analyses will be conducted to examine the effects of temperature and nutrients on cyanotoxins. Lara will use her scholarship funds to purchase supplies for deploying SPATT samplers, which allow for a time-integrated sample. Since Lara’s research is just beginning she will not be presenting at OLA’s annual meeting which is in Bend this year. However she will be present, so please join us and meet and greet both our Scholarship applicants for 2019. See: https://www.oregonlakes.org/

2018 - Laura Costadone, Portland State University

Read more about Laura

Laura grew up in Turin, capital of the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. She earned a degree in Environmental Science and Technology at the University of Turin (Italy). Thereafter, she was awarded an Erasmus Scholarship, a European High Academic Achievement Award, to support one year of study at the University of Castilla - La Mancha (UCLM) in central Spain working on preserving local plant varieties against biodiversity threats and influences such as invasive species and pollution. After working 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 nutrients, pesticides and the use of water resources, Laura enrolled in graduate school at Washington State University. The focus of her M.S. 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. Laura is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Dr. Mark Sytsma’s lab in the Center for Lakes and Reservoirs at Portland State University. 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 quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) can detect the onset of harmful algal blooms earlier than the traditional monitoring programs. Research will be conducted in Oswego Lake, but has applicability to all lakes with cyanobacteria blooms. Realtime qPCR will be added to the HABs monitoring program that has been maintained by the Lake Oswego Corporation since 2000. Phytoplankton samples will be collected weekly and identified using bothmorphological 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. Toxigenic strains are likely present in the lake. qPCR will be used for monitoring toxic genotype dynamics and to predict toxin concentration in water to establish the minimum threshold cell number for toxic contamination events. Laura’s 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).

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Scholarship Recipients

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