Aquatic Environmental Microbiology and Chemistry

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Zilber School of Public Health    




June 6, 2017: Undergraduate students in math and biology working on our E. coli beach models today with Todd and Dr. Gabriela Pinter of the UWM Mathematics Department. Great group of students! 


May 31, 2017: Another beach sampling season starts with the help of our new undergraduate interns Kaitlin Salter, Zahra Gohari, and Abigail Ginther in the UMB undergraduate research in math and biology program at UWM.



May 26, 2017: We deployed the Bradford Beach Buoy (The B3) today with the help of the R/V Neeskay and her awesome crew (thanks Greg and Geoff). We've got a suite of new sensors we made onboard. Should be an awesome season to watch the data come out of this buoy! Will be updating the website soon with live data,




April 29, 2017: Testing out the B3 Buoy's new camera in the loading dock for the School of Freshwater Sciences. Here's about three weeks in less than a minute.



March 15, 2017: Our report to the International Joint Commission, Health Professionals Advisory Board on cyanobacterial toxins and human health in the Great Lakes was released this month. We spent almost three years working on this large review from a historical perspective. Glad to see it finally out for the public to read. Lots of good nuggets in here!

Grab it here


Feb 14, 2017: Our paper on cyanotoxins in six eutrophic Wisconsin lakes is out in the journal Toxins. See it here. For an interactive map of the data (click below).

Oct 3, 2016: We brought the Winnebago Buoy back to shore today. Zebra mussels were rather abundant this year, covering our sensors. At the same time, Sarah and Chelsea were able to get samples of the October cyanobacterial blooms while we were out on this beautiful fall day.

July 8, 2016: Today we launched the Bradford Beach Buoy, affectionately known as B3. She's streaming data minute-by-minute to  Go check it out! Next year we will be using this data to drive our models of E. coli abundance at the beach.




Oct 27, 2015: The Miller Lab writing retreat at the Lake Michigan beach house. Three days of intensive manuscript preparation!


Sep 4, 2015: The 2015 Miller Lab. We have so much to proud of!



October 29, 2014: The Miller Lab traveled to Quebec, Canada for GLEON 16. Chelsea led the Microbes/Cyanobacteria working group which continued progress on their global cyanotoxin project. There were several modeling workshops that Todd, Lucas, and NIck attended, and Sarah worked with the Reservoir and Lake Management group. All presented posters during a two-night Poster Presentation social, and thoroughly enjoyed the scenary at Jouvence.


October 24, 2014: The buoy is out of the water after an arduous season and we will spend the winter months cleaning and updating our sensors and equipment, already looking ahead to the 2015 field season.



 August 6, 2014: A paint-like bloom covered areas of Lake Winnebago today; Todd took one for the team to get a surface samples of the blooms and an analysis of the water sample revealed high levels of cyanotoxins. Good thing he washed his hands immediately after contact.


July 25, 2014: Chelsea was featured in the 'IAMUWM' video series through UW-Milwaukee and took viewers on a day in the life of buoy work on Lake Winnebago. She did an excellent job representing her work and the lab.


July 8, 2014: Buoy deployment day - IrisII is back on Lake Winnebago for another season. This was a well orchestrated deployment between Todd, Lucas, Chelsea, and Sarah, and we all breathed a sigh of relief once the buoy was moored.


July 4, 2014: Media Alert - CBS 58 caught up with Chelsea at South Shore as she was sampling the beach, as a part of the WI Beach Health water quality monitoring program. Click here to view the video.

March 6, 2014: Sarah and Chelsea attended the 34th Annual Midwest Aquatic Plant Managers conference in Lombard, IL this week and won the student poster competition. Way to go!


November 5, 2013: John, Sarah, Chelsea, and Todd attended the GLEON 15 meeting in Argentina this week. Sarah started a project on lake metabolism at the meeting. John and the hardware working group designed, built, and tested a "do-it-yourself" thermistor chain while at the meeting. It is rugged, low cost, energy efficient, and easy to build. Chelsea and Todd continued the global cyanotoxins group which is attempting to describe environmental controls on the worldwide distribution of cyanotoxins in lakes.

Chelsea presented her poster on global analysis of cyanobacterial toxins in lakes. John presented his poster on construction and testing of a low cost thermistor chain. Sarah presented her work on high- resolution measurements of cyanobacterial toxins and possible relationship to lake metabolism.


October 25, 2013: We took our buoy out of Lake Winnebago today ahead of ice- on temperatures. Winds were picking up and waves were getting high. A few hours after we got off the lake gusts were up to 50 mph trending directly out of the south, perfect for big waves on Winnebago. Luckily we didn't see the waves those winds produced. John Hernandez and his brother Michael got the job done, even in near freezing temperatures and high waves. Great work guys! Pictures below.









October 14, 2013: There was a large bloom of cyanobacteria on Lake Winnebago today that started on September 26th according to our fluorometers (see here). One might call it the perennial "Indian Summer Cyano Bloom" that seems to occur every Autumn, although this one appears to be abnormally large. A picture of a stream of algae blown by Easterly winds is below. Also a picture of the algal laden buoy.



October 4, 2013: It was an active day in the lab today with Assistant Professor Patrick McNamara from Marquette University running the mass spec for nonyl-phenol analysis, John calibrating his thermistor chain, Sarah and Chelsea processing buoy samples, Mary extracting neurotoxic amino acids (e.g. BMAA), Nick running nitrate analyses, and myself and Lucas doing anatoxin-a extractions. Along the way their was a unique convergence of geeks in the coffee room (see below).



September 27, 2013: Todd was interviewed by Wisconsin Eye today (watch it here), a public affairs network channel in Wisconsin. The story was on Dr. Rebecca Klapper's recently published study (here) that shows Lake Michigan contains a large number of pharmaceuticals and personal care products both nearshore and in deep waters as well as sediments. It is a terrific contribution to our knowledge of these chemicals in aquatic environments


August 12, 2013: Once again John Hernandez is on the news. This time in Oshkosh. You can view the video here


August 6, 2013: A story about our work on WInnebago ran in the Journal Sentinel today. You can read it here.


July 25, 2013: Today we launched our buoy, IrisII on Lake Winnebago. All pictures from the event can be viewed here. Data will soon be available here, as well as on our Android and iPhone apps.



July 21, 2013: Our buoys, Iris I and Iris II are getting worked on by the Hernandez brothers. Soon they will go into Lake Winnebago.



July 6, 2013: Our very own John Hernandez was profiled in the Journal Sentinal today for his work on water quality at Milwaukee beaches and his unique background which led him to work with us. Read it here or here






June 26, 2013: Impromptu lab photo today. This is (most) of our summer crew... back row (left to right): Lee Knudtson, Jason Zellmer, Nick Meyers, John Hernandez; front row (left to right): Clayton Wollner, Sarah Bartlett, Todd Miller, Chelsea Weirich, Synclair Brown, Angelica Sanchez



April 19, 2013: Congratulations to Moua and Wa Vang for winning third place at the 5th annual UWM undergraduate research symposium. Among hundreds of participants their poster was judged to be award winning. Great job guys! Pictures and link to the poster are below.





Nov 7, 2012: The Miller Lab extracted the algal- laden buoy from Lake Winnebago today. Scuba was necessary and unfortunately water temps dipped to nearly freezing and despite the cold temps and low winds Winnebago was still cloudy as ever with visibility in inches. Great work by John Hernandez in securing all the right equipment to keep us warm, or at least safe. His scuba experience is definitely a big help! Also thanks to Chelsea Weirich, Mary Seaman and Brian from the UW- Oshkosh Aquatics Lab for their much needed assistance and overall (life)support.

Todd ready to go in

John getting ready

Get set and go!


Mary secures the buoy free from moorings

John and Todd minutes after entering the water. It is a good lesson in how safe one needs to be. Without these wetsuits and Lavacore undersuits we wouldn't last much more than a few minutes at 40 F.

John out of the near freezing waters with cool hat




Oct. 21, 2012: Todd, John, and Chelsea traveled to Mulranny, Ireland to attend the 14th Global Lakes Ecological Observatory Network workshop. Both John and Chelsea presented posters on modeling E. coli at Milwaukee beaches and scales of variability in micorcystin concentrations in Lake Winnebago, respectively. Todd presented the Lake Winnebago Buoys as a new GLEON monitoring site and collectively we started a new working group project to investigate cyanotoxins in lakes on a global scale.



Aug 13, 2012: John Hernandez taking samples from Milwaukee beaches. Cladophora was quite abundant this year, likely driven by an expansion (early start) to warm water temperatures.



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