MAISRC Graduate Fellows

naomi Naomi Blinick is a graduate student in the Conservation Sciences program at the University of Minnesota, in the Fisheries and Aquatic Biology track. She has a bachelors’s degree in marine studies from Prescott College in Arizona, and has spent a decade working as a field biologist in various marine, coastal, island, and freshwater ecosystems.  She is now investigating the effects of zebra mussels on the success of walleye in Minnesota lakes as a member of Dr. Gretchen Hansen’s lab.
rafael Rafael Contreras-Rangel is a Master's student in the Conservation Science with a focus on Fisheries and Aquatic Biology. He graduated from Kenyon College with a BA in biology and a concentration in environmental studies. After graduating I started becoming interested in invasive species while doing restoration work for the Natural Area Preservation Division of the City of Ann Arbor. Having been a swimmer my whole life, I moved to Minnesota with the hope of transitioning from doing conservation work in a terrestrial system to an aquatic one. While working as an Aquatic Invasive Species Specialist for the Conservation Corps of Minnesota & Iowa, I became interested in starry stonewort ecology and management. My research focus will be studying the efficacy of chemical control on starry stonewort in a lab setting.
megan corum

Megan Corum is a M.S. student in the Water Resources Science program at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She graduated with a B.A. in biology and English from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI. Her work focuses on spiny water fleas. 


Angelique Dahlberg is a graduate student in Dr. Phelps' lab working towards a PhD in Conservation Sciences. She received in M.S. in Integrated BioSciences from the University of Minnesota Duluth and a B.S. in Biological Aspects of Conservation from the University of Wisconsin Madison. Angelique also spent five years working for regional non-profits to manage and mitigate the impacts of invasive species. Angelique's current research investigates suppression methods for controlling zebra mussel populations in Minnesota lakes.


Clark Dennis
is a PhD Student in the Conservation Biology Graduate Program at the University of Minnesota. Clark obtained his undergraduate and M.S. degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he examined the efficacy of carbon dioxide gas to deter the spread of invasive carps. Clark is now working on the development and full-scale testing of acoustic deterrents meant to deter the movement of invasive carps (i.e., common carp, bigheaded carps) from entering lock chambers, while aiming for minimal impact on native fish movement.


Nicki DeWeese
is a M.S. student pursuing a degree in Water Resources Science. She graduated from the College of St. Benedict with a BA in Natural Science and a minor in Environmental Studies. The aim of her research project is to characterize the ecosystem impacts of the spiny water flea in Minnesota lake. Her work uses lake sediment records to reconstruct past lake conditions and community compositions.


Eltawely is a Graduate Student working towards an M.S./PhD in Water Resources Science with a focus on Water Quality. She completed her B.A. in Biology with a minor in Communication Studies at Augsburg College. The focus of her research is describing the frequency of occurrence and the geographic distribution of hybrid watermilfoil in Minnesota.


Sam Erickson
is a graduate student with Dr. Michael Smanski’s research group at the University of Minnesota BioTechnology Institute. Sam is developing genetic engineering technologies, including synthetic genetic incompatibility (SGI). SGI holds promise as a novel biocontrol method for invasive carp. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, he first came to Minnesota five years ago to study physical chemistry at Macalester College.


Jane Feely
is a Masters Student working with the Sorensen team. She obtained her undergraduate degree in biology at the University of St. Thomas. Currently, she is researching if juvenile silver carp release and are attracted to a conspecific odor.
holly kundel

Holly Kundel is a Master's student in the Conservation Sciences program studying Fisheries and Aquatic Biology at the University of Minnesota. Holly has a bachelor's degree in Biology with minors in Environmental Studies and Mathematics from Augsburg University and is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Although Holly used to do lots of her work in wetlands without fish, she is now working with Dr. Gretchen Hansen and using historic fish survey and water quality data from the Minnesota DNR to try to understand how zebra mussel invasions in Minnesotan lakes influence walleye recruitment and water quality characteristics using a modeling approach.


Meg McEachran
is a PhD student in the Phelps lab studying the release of live bait by anglers as a potential pathway for the spread of invasive species. She's interested in taking an interdisciplinary approach to AIS issues drawing from disease ecology, conservation biology, and the social sciences.


Jacob Olson
is working toward earning a M.S. in Water Resources Science at the University of Minnesota Saint Paul campus.  He is researching invasive macrophytes (Potamogeton crispus and Myriophyllum spicatum) in lakes throughout Minnesota and investigating methods to restore native macrophyte communities and define restoration endpoints.


Andy Riesgraf
is a graduate student working with the Sorensen team. Andy is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in fisheries. He will be researching fish movement around lock and dam 2 in Hastings, with the goal of learning how fish migrate through lock and dam structures. Once more is understood about their movement, technologies can be properly deployed in an effort to stop invasive carp from moving further up the Mississippi River.
kasey Kasey Rundquist is a graduate student working towards an M.S. in Water Resources Science. She completed her B.S. in Biology at Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD.  


Isaiah E. Tolo
is a graduate student in Dr. Phelps' lab working towards his PhD in Fisheries and Aquatic Biology. He received a B.S. in Biological Sciences from Belhaven University and an M.S. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. His work will focus on exploring the utility of native viruses in the control of invasive carp species.


Mike Verhoeven
is a graduate student working towards a Ph.D. in Conservation Science with a focus on Fisheries and Aquatic Biology. His research focuses on ecology and management of aquatic invasive plants. The focus of his current project is evaluating the factors that influence reproduction and colonization in submerged plant communities following management actions. His work utilizes observational datasets collected during herbicide-based aquatic plant management in the state of Minnesota.


Carli Wagner
is an M.S. student pursuing a degree in Fisheries and Aquatic Biology. She is an alum of the Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology program at the University of Minnesota. She aims to fill key knowledge gaps on the ecology of starry stonewort. The major focuses of her research include characterizing starry stonewort’s phenology, quantifying impacts of its invasion on native plant communities, and identifying environmental factors associated with nuisance growth.