The Lehrter Lab is bustling as recently appointed University of South Alabama associate professor and Dauphin Island Lea Lab Senior Marine Scientist Dr. John Lehrter welcomed a new PhD student and two summer undergraduate interns into his research program. Dr. Lehrter's research studies biogeochemical cycles as related to multiple human stressors in coastal ecosystems.
PhD student Mai Fung is investigating the conversion of mercury to methylmercury in Mobile Bay. Methylmercury is formed from inorganic mercury by the action of microbes that live in aquatic and marine systems. Once methylated, the mercury can be taken up in the food chain and concentrated to a level harmful to humans. Our understanding of the factors that control these processes in estuaries is relatively limited. Fung, This summer, Fung will also assist Dr. Lehrter's study of the Mississippi River's role in coastal acidification and hypoxia. They will board the M/V Pelican in July for a two week research trip along the Louisiana shelf.
Fung received her Master of Sciences in Environmental and Public Health from the University of California Berkeley.
Central Methodist University students Alexis Hagemeyer and Megan Hare, although far from their Missouri home, are no strangers to Dauphin Island. Seniors in CMU's Marine Biology program, Hagemeyer and Hare have visited Dauphin Island for two consecutive spring breaks as part of their school's Barrier Island Ecology course.
Hagemeyer and Hare are working with Dr. Lehrter on their senior capstone project for CMU. The topic of their project is ocean acidification effects on the lower food chain. The CMU students will perform phytoplankton growth and grazing experiments in Lehrter's lab and experiments with algal cultures in Dr. Jeff Krause’s lab to investigate their topic.
The plan is to present their findings, along with the DISL/NSF REU students, at a scientific poster presentation event on Thursday, August 3 in the Shelby Atrium on the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Campus.
Hagemeyer hopes to return to DISL for graduate school.