Lake Superior State University
Lake Superior State University
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Alum Success

Nancy (Braschayko) McNamara, a summa cum laude Laker Alumni from 2006 is attending the University of Michigan School of Medicine.

School of Biological Sciences

Biology Programs at LSSU - We are Redefining the Classroom!

Bachelor of Science Programs

•  Biology
•  Biology: Health Professions
•  Medical Laboratory Sciences
•  Conservation Biology
•  Fish Health
•  Fisheries & Wildlife Management

Associates Programs

•  Marine Technology
•  Natural Resource Technology


•  Biology
•  Marine & Freshwater Sciences


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At Lake Superior State University class sizes are small and labs are taught by faculty rather than graduate students, Our faculty are not only experts in their field of interest but are also dedicated teachers. Hands-on experience includes working with sophisticated laboratory equipment and the opportunity to work at many diverse terrestrial and aquatic field sites.  Graduates of the department complete a capstone senior thesis or service-learning project which they design, implement, analyze, and present their findings on a topic of their choosing. Student organizations play an active role in their professional and local communities and provide support to students presenting their work at local, state and regional conferences.

We maintain state-of-the art facilities, including the Aquatic Research Laboratory, Small Mammal Undergraduate Research Facility, Fish Disease Laboratory, as well as dedicated molecular, physiology, and ecology laboratories. Sophisticated instrumentation and equipment such asDNA sequencers, climate controlled environmental chambers, fish and wildlife sampling gear, etc. are dedicated to teaching and student research opportunities which provide valuable hands-on opportunities for students throughout their academic career at LSSU.

The Aquatic Research Laboratory (ARL) is one of only a few such facilities within the United States. Our students have the opportunity to work in the on-going hatchery operations to produce Atlantic salmon for release in the St. Marys River, as well as several other aquatic ecology research projects housed at the ARL. Students also can intern at the Fish Disease Lab (FDL) where they combine molecular skills with field biology to diagnose diseases found in fish and other freshwater samples.

We offer a variety of experiences outside of the classroom that will reinforce your knowledge base and extend your professional abilities. Each student works one- on-one with a faculty mentor on your own senior project. You could also work in the department helping set up labs, on a faculty member’s research project, or at the ARL. You may complete an internship with a state or local agency or work for the Learning Center, helping other students excel in their biology classes. Our active student organizations (Fisheries and Wildlife Club, SEEK, Pre-Professional Club) also provide great opportunities for extra-curricular experiences in your chosen field.

Our location provides unsurpassed field sites for natural resource based labs. Students may be out on a boat in the fall or snowshoeing through the forests in the winter. Forests, grass lands, wetlands, inland lakes and rivers, the St. Marys River and of course all three of the Upper Great Lakes are within an hour’s drive of campus (some just minutes from campus!). Notable fish and wildlife species in these habitats include lake sturgeon, whitefish, moose, deer, fishers, wolves, bears, goshawks, piping plovers and many others, including threatened and endangered species of plants and animals. You will visit these sites often in labs and for other projects. No other university offers access to as many varied field sites as LSSU!

For those students interested in a career in the health professions, we offer excellent preparation for medical, dental and veterinary studies. We also prepare students to go on to graduate studies in chiropractic, podiatry, physician assistant and pharmacy

Investigat- ing the Use of QPCR: An Early Detection Method for Toxic Cyano- bacterial Bloom

Garrett Aderman

Harmful algal blooms (HABs), including cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CHABs), are a global phenomenon. In the US, annual economic loss due to HABs was recently estimated at $82 million. Furthermore, the consensus amongst the scientific community is that the frequency and duration of CHABs in freshwater systems will increase as a result of climate change and anthropogenic nutrient enrichment. Due to the ability of some strains of CHAB genera to produce toxic compounds, larger and more sustained CHAB events will become an even greater threat to drinking water. Of all the known cyantoxoins, one of the most ubiquitous is microcystin (MCY). Humans are primarily exposed to cyantoxins through drinking water consumption and accidental ingestion of recreational water. The increasing risk presented by these toxins requires health officials and utilities to improve their ability to track the occurrence and relative toxicity. Current tracking methods do not distinguish between toxic and non-toxic strains. Biochemical techniques for analyzing the toxins are showing considerable potential as they are relatively simple to run and low cost. My goal was to develop a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) method to measure the amount of mcyE gene in a Lake Erie drinking water and compare the levels of the mcyE to toxin produced. This is the first step to determining if the presence of mcyE of the mycrocystin synthestase gene cluster in Microcystits, Planktothrix and Anabaena cells can be used as the quantitative measurement in an early detection warning system for recreational and drinking waters.

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