Current Lab Members

Allison Hay, MS Student

firefoxI graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Bioenvironmental Sciences and Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences in May 2021. During my time as a student, I was involved in a diverse range of research experiences. I got my start in a research setting working in a chemical ecology lab and quickly shifted focus. I received the Applied Biodiversity Sciences scholarship which funded a short research project with a graduate student in the department determining the impacts of cattle grazing on small mammal communities. With this award, I was also given a stipend to fund an internship. I ended up accepting a position as an intern on a project in H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Blue River, Oregon tracking Western Spotted Skunks and their use of old growth forests. I was also involved in stream sampling historic sites to contribute to a long-term data set. This small glimpse into freshwater ecosystems was the initiator of my career as an aquatic biologist.

After that experience, I dove headfirst into freshwater ecology. I reached out to Dr. Josh Perkin in the Riverscape Ecology Lab who gave me the awesome responsibility of conducting my own research project in his lab. The goal of this project was to determine the movement and mortality of invasive suckermouth armored catfish in the San Marcos River. With the help of Dr. Perkin and an amazing crew, I was able to publish my findings in the Journal of Biological Invasions. I learned so much from this experience, which really solidified my passion for freshwater ecology.

After graduation, I accepted a position with Colorado Parks and Wildlife as a sport fish technician in Fort Collins. I spent my days conducting routine sampling surveys in a variety of ecosystems like in-town natural areas, the wild and scenic Poudre River, and breathtaking alpine lakes. I was also involved in large scale spawning operations and habitat reclamation projects for the reintroduction of native greenback cutthroat trout. I am so thankful that I was able to gain such valuable, hands-on experience in fisheries management, and interact with so many brilliant biologists.

Now, I am working with Dr. Suski and Illinois Department of Natural Resources to quantify the movement and spatial ecology of largemouth bass following tournament release in two reservoirs.

In my free time, I love getting outside to hike, boulder, or play with my dog. I also love cooking and finding new restaurants to try out!

Katie Fitzgerald, PhD Student

firefoxI received my undergraduate degree in Natural Resource Management and Conservation from San Francisco State University. After taking a field course on the ecology of bats, I was officially hooked. This interest led to working with various agencies, such as National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I had wonderful and life changing opportunities to assist in a variety of bat related research in southern Mexico, Borneo, and Madagascar. I then completed my master's degree at Angelo State University in Texas. My master's work included the use of molecular methods to characterize seasonal variation of the diet of cave myotis (Myotis velifer) in the Chihuahuan desert.

I am now being co-advised by Dr. Cory Suski and Dr. Joy O'Keefe at UIUC. My Ph.D. research will focus on monitoring the health of Indiana bats (Myotis sodalis) to determine whether forest management practices affect populations. Managed sites that are effective may provide bats with various roosting habitats and minimize competition with conspecifics. In addition to connecting to nature through science, I enjoy backpacking, watching live music, and consider myself a novice rock climber. I look forward to all that I will learn from both the labs I am a part of and exploring the Midwest!

Amy Schneider, MS Student

firefoxI received my undergraduate degree from UIUC in Integrative Biology in the spring of 2017. Immediately after graduating, I moved to Cordova, Alaska to work as a wildlife intern at Chugach National Forest. I was then fortunate enough to return to the Chugach the following summer, this time as a fisheries technician. I credit this experience with sparking my interest in fisheries science as well as my love of fishing! Following this, I spent time as a wildlife technician at Cape Hatteras National Seashore completing shorebird and sea turtle nest surveys. I also worked at Situ Biosciences, an antimicrobial testing laboratory, as a lab technician, where I was able to get great hands-on experience with a variety of bacteria, fungi, and algae. I'm excited to be back at UIUC and working with fish again in Dr. Cory Suski's lab!

My research is focusing on the role of contaminants in the stall of invasive bighead and silver carp movement in the Illinois River near Chicago. I am looking to see whether the carp are exhibiting behavioral and/or physiological responses to the pollutants that come out of the Chicago Area Waterway System. There is a strong concern about these fish having devastating effects on Great Lakes ecosystems, so understanding the reason that their movement is being impacted has important implications for future management decisions.

In my free time, I love to go camping with friends, read, hang out with my dog, and discover fun restaurants and breweries.

Dr. Clark Dennis, Post Doctoral Researcher

firefoxFor the last 10 years, I have worked on a variety of projects seeking to develop novel barriers to deter invasive fishes. My master's research, advised by Dr. Suski, examined the response of invasive fishes to carbon dioxide. It turns out that fish will actively avoid CO2 at high concentrations making this a potential deterrent for invasive fishes, and the Suski lab has since conducted a variety of studies to nail down how/whether CO2 can be used as a carp deterrent system. I then took a position at the University of Minnesota to conduct similar research on invasive carp control; however, this time using acoustic deterrents to target the specialized hearing capabilities of carp. My doctoral research, advised by Dr. Peter Sorensen, examined the response of carp to sound, air curtains and high-intensity lights. I found that a coupled sound and air curtain system could block nearly all carp passage in the laboratory, and this acoustic deterrent system is currently being tested at Barkley Dam in Kentucky.

I am now working on a project with Dr. Suski to determine whether we can add CO2 to the air curtain deterrent system to make it more effective at blocking invasive fishes. This will hopefully prolong the effectiveness of the deterrent system and potentially result in invasive fishes learning to avoid the area near the air curtain.

I am also involved with a project with Dr. Suski and Dr. Rafael Tinoco (UIUC; Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering) examining the behavioral response of invasive sea lamprey to turbulence. If lamprey are attracted or repelled by specific types of turbulence, managers might be able to generate flow conditions in streams that could be used to enhance trapping efficiency or deter lamprey from entering spawning areas.

When I am not working, I am spending time with my wife and two kids along with my houseful of animals. We enjoy taking the kids to parks and children's museums, riding bikes, fixing up our new house, and spending time with family in the area.

John Bieber, MS Student

firefox I came to UIUC in 2017 as a transfer student in NRES, and immediately began looking for any research opportunities. I started off thinking I wanted to work in environmental law, but quickly realized that was not my research interest after I started, as an undergrad in Dr. Suski's Lab that year. My first project as an undergraduate was analyzing how air exposure duration and water temperature impact swimming performance in bluegill. This experience thrust me into research, and eventually I had enough data to write and submit a full publication. After I graduated, I spent a year working for the Office of Undergraduate Research here at UIUC while also remaining connected to the lab, taking on any responsibility I could. I'm a firm believer of devoting time to learn new skills and methods, no matter how big or small they may seem to be.

During my time in the Suski Lab I have worked on multitude of experiments ranging from genes and metabolomics to duck poop and histology. Now, for my masters, I am focusing on spatial ecology, habitat use and hook avoidance of muskie in Shabbona Lake, a lake in northern Illinois. It's a perfect project to gain and develop insights into some amazing technology, while also being able to work with anglers and managers on a closer level than I have before. An extra plus of it all is being able to work with some of the most fascinating and mysterious fish in the world.

When I am not working (or fishing), I enjoy working on my motorcycle, playing guitar, reading, or learning some new recipes.

Lab Alumni

Name Thesis or Project Title Current Position
Dr. Katey Strailey, PhD, 2022 These turbulent times: interactions between fish and turbulence-generating simulated instream restoration structures and their influence on fish energy use and habitat selection Researcher at the Illinois Natural History Survey
Dr. Qihong Dai, PhD, 2022 How climate change and agriculture could reshape the midwestern stream fish communities Data Scientist
Dr. Jocelyn Curtis-Quick, Postdoc, 2021 Using metabolomics to define the lack of upstream movement of invasive bigheaded carp in the Illinois River. Online MS Program, University of Illinois, NRES
Dr. Aaron Zolderdo, PhD, 2021 Freshwater fish populations in eastern Ontario benefit from long standing protected areas Manager, Queen's University Biological Station
Toniann Keiling, MS, 2019 Intersection of environment, behavior and physiological traits on angling vulnerability. Fisheries Biologist, New York State DEC
Dr. Emi Tucker, PhD, 2019 Applying edge-core theory of intraspecific life-history variation to the control of invasive silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) Veterinary school, University of North Carolina
Dr. Michael Louison, PhD, 2018 Physiological and behavioral drivers of angling vulnerability in a freshwater sportfish. Assistant Professor, McKendree University
Dr. Caleb Hasler, Postdoc, 2017 Integrating physiology and behavior to prevent the spread of bigheaded carp. Assistant Professor, University of Winnipeg
Dr. Jennifer Jeffrey, Postdoc, 2017 Integrating physiology and behavior for conservation in aquatic ecosystems Post Doctoral Researcher, University of Manitoba
Eric Schneider, MS, 2017 Influence of CO2 on fishes in flowing water environments: implications for a non-physical barrier to movement Researcher, Cape Eleuthera Institute, The Bahamas
Ian Bouyoucos, MS, 2016 Aerobic and anaerobic activity metabolism of an elasmobranch PhD Student, James Cook University, Australia
Kelly Hannan, MS, 2016 The physiological effects of elevated carbon dioxide, in the context of non-physical fish barriers, on Unionid mussels PhD Student, James Cook University, Australia
John Tix, MS, 2016 Impacts of carbon dioxide on freshwater fish behaviors Fisheries Biologist, United States Geological Survey, UMESC
Dr. Steve Midway, Postdoc, 2015 Impacts of carbon dioxide exposure for fishes in a flowing water environment Assistant Professor, Louisiana State University
Dr. Aaron Shultz, PhD, 2015 The responses of subtropical nearshore fishes to climate change Climage Change Biologist, GLIFWC
Dr. Michael Donaldson
Postdoc, 2014
Use of carbon dioxide as a deterrent to the movement of fishes Content Development Manager at Canadian Science Publishing
Greg King
MS, 2014
Nutritional condition and stress response of fishes along a gradient of habitat quality in the St. Lawrence River: physiological consequences of anthropogenic habitat degradation PhD Student, University of Illinois
Clark Dennis
MS, 2014
Impact of hypercarbia on juvenile fish physiology, behavior, performance and acclimation potential PhD student, University of Minnesota
Stephanie Liss
MS, 2013
Spatial and temporal influences on the physiological condition of invasive Silver Carp Researcher, Pacific Northwest National Laboatory
David Sutter
MS, 2013
Endocrine responses to reproduction and parental are in a teleost colonial breeder Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science, Humboldt University of Berlin
Zachary Zuckerman
MS, 2012
Life history tradeoffs in a parental-care prviding fish: the role of predation, and condition on brood abandonment in largemouth bass Fisheries Biologist, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
Greggory Gaulke
MS, 2012
Impacts of hypoxia on Largemouth bass behavior, physiology and acclimation potential Fisheries/Aquatic Scientist, Environmental Consulting & Technology
Zachary Blevins
MS, 2012
Land use impacts on physiological properties of fishes. Sea Lamprey Research Program Associate, Great Lakes Fishery Commission
Sean Landsman
MS, 2011
Improving catch-and-release strategies for muskellunge PhD Student, University of Prince Edward Island
Matthew VanLandeghem
MS, 2009
Impacts of environmental and anthropogenic stressors on largemouth bass - an integration of field and laboratory studies PhD Program, USGS Texas Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit
Andrew Gingerich
MS, 2009
Influence of size and nutritional status on recovery from exercise in largemouth bass Biologist, Douglas County Public Utility District