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Scientists & Crew

Learn more about the experts and crewmembers onboard the R/V Lake Guardian.

Shipboard and Shoreline Science Workshop


Crew Member
Dr. Rosanne Fortner | Director, COSEE Great Lakes
Professor Emerita, The Ohio State University

Roseanne's research interests include the knowledge, attitudes, and information sources about the oceans and Great Lakes, educators' priorities for teaching water topics, and  the factors related to successful dissemination of environmental information.

Rosanne is retired, but still represents COSEE Great Lakes in the National COSEE Council.  In this role, she evaluates the education products of the St. Louis River Estuary project for Minnesota and Wisconsin Sea Grant and  teaches online courses in Environmental Studies at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. She is also the U.S. Chair of the 40th annual conference of the North American Association for Environmental Education [October 2011]. Dr. Fortner holds a B.S. in Biology and Education from West Virginia University, a M.S. in Earth Science Education from Oregon State, and an EdD in Science Education from Virginia Tech.

On the cruise, she will lead the program evaluation using concept maps and journals and share information about ships and shipping on the Great Lakes as well as climate change in the region. She will also introduce music for teaching about the Great Lakes and assist educators with ways to incorporate Great Lakes concepts into their current teaching.  

Fortner enjoys walking on the beach every day with her golden lab, Beau Ridley; kayaking, geocaching, and making doll clothes for her granddaughter. She crochets with plastic bags, and she's trying to perfect her cast-net throw so she can catch more shrimp!


Crew Member
Cynthia Hagley | Environmental Quality Extension Educator
Minnesota Sea Grant

As an extension educator, Cindy shares the science of lake and stream management with coastal communities, property owners, educators, and resource managers. Cindy also develops outreach products and programs related to Great Lakes ecosystem research and monitoring, stormwater management, shoreland property management, and the relationship between land use and water quality.

Cindy holds a M.S. in Aquatic Ecology/Limnology from the University of California Davis and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Minnesota.

On the cruise, Cindy will work alongside the chief scientist, helping translate aquatic ecology and research techniques for educators, helping guide educator research projects, and making sure no one falls overboard!

Some of Hagley's former "fieldwork" includes working construction in the Antarctic for the United States Antarctic Program, collecting data and water samples from lakes in the northeast and northwest United States for the National Surface Water Survey, and co-leading (with U of WI Extension) educational tours on board the University of Wisconsin's R/V L.L. Smith, Jr. in the western end of Lake Superior. She loves all water and snow sports.


Crew Member
Dr. Ashley Moerke | Associate Professor & Co-Director of the Aquatic Research Laboratory
School of Biological Sciences, Lake Superior State University

Dr. Ashley Moerke is an Associate Professor of Biology and Co-Director of the Aquatic Research Laboratory at Lake Superior State University, Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan.  Her teaching and research interests span many areas of aquatic ecology, including stream fisheries ecology, ecosystem restoration, watershed management, bioassessment, and conservation of freshwater species and ecosystems.  Her current research involves monitoring Great Lakes coastal wetlands, evaluating the effects of non-native Pacific salmon on Great Lakes tributaries, and assessing linkages between small streams and the Great Lakes. Ashley enjoys engaging her undergraduate students in active research and has advised over 40 undergraduate student theses at LSSU. Ashley holds a Ph.D. and M.S. from the University of Notre Dame and a B.S. from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. 

On the cruise, she will assist with sampling and data collection and will lead the virtual classroom experience with teachers at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

Outside of the classroom and field, Ashley takes advantage of living in the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She spends her winters snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, her summers fishing, biking, canoeing, kayaking, and camping, and her autumns bird hunting with her husband and two dogs.


Crew Member
Dr. Gregory Boyer | Chair, Department of Chemistry, Professor of Biochemistry and Director, Great Lakes Research Consortium
State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Dr. Boyer received his B.A. in Biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin.  After postdoctoral fellowships at the Plant Research Labs at Michigan State University and in the Department of Oceanography at the University of British Columbia, he joined the Faculty of Chemistry at SUNY-ESF in 1985.  

Dr. Boyer's expertise is in the area of biologically active natural products produced by algae and he has more than 35 years experience working with toxins, hormones, and siderophores produced by marine and freshwater algae. 

He was director of NOAA's MERHAB-Lower Great Lakes project to develop a Tier-based Monitoring for Toxic Cyanobacteria in the Lower Great Lakes. It serves as a rapid response laboratory for cyanobacterial toxins for NOAA the Centers for Disease Control and laboratories from around the globe.  He is also the chair of the Department of Chemistry and the current director of New York's Great Lakes Research Consortium.  The NY-GLRC consists of 18 New York Universities and nine Canadian Universities, almost 400 scientists in total, working on all aspects of Great Lakes Science, education and outreach. He has served as chief scientist on more than two dozen research cruises on the Great Lakes, is the Great Lakes Co-Chair of the Science Advisory Council for New York Oceans and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Council, member of New York's Great Lakes Basin Advisory Council, Member of the IJC's Council of Great Lakes Research Managers, and an active advocate for Great Lakes protection, outreach and public education.


Crew Member
Dr. Joel Hoffman | Research Biologist
U.S. EPA National Health and Environmental Effects Research Lab, Mid-Continent Ecology Division

Joel Hoffman is a research biologist with the U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development, National Health Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Mid-Continent Ecology Division in Duluth, Minnesota. Broadly, his research can be characterized as understanding the effects of human impacts to coastal aquatic ecosystems. His research activities are directed toward the early life history of estuarine and Great Lakes coastal wetland fishes, with an emphasis of how human alterations to ecosystem functions influence habitat use and fish population dynamics. His research is also focused on using the natural abundance of stable isotopes in organisms to understand food web relationships and energy flow through aquatic ecosystems.

Currently, Joel is researching how degradation of Great Lakes coastal habitats alters habitat use by fish species, and is developing indicators of nutrient pollution in Great Lakes coastal wetlands using the stable isotope signatures of young fish. He has also been working on developing survey methods for early detection of non-native aquatic species in the Great Lakes, as well as studying the use of stable isotopes to understand deep-sea food webs.

Joel  holds a Ph.D. in Marine Science from the College of William and Mary. He has two degrees from University of Michigan, a B.S. in Resource Ecology and Management and a B.A. in Philosophy.

On the cruise, Joel will serve as the Chief Scientist. His responsibilities are to oversee all science operations aboard the ship, including coordinating the various research projects occurring during the cruise. He will also assist with sampling and data collection, and will be sampling fish larvae for stable isotope studies.

Joel is a native of the Great Lakes region. He enjoys running, sailing, fishing, and spending time with his family – his wife, 3-year-old daughter, and 1-year-old son.

Learn more about Joel by checking out his feature in EPA's Science Notebook here: http://www.epa.gov/epahome/sciencenb/interviews/hoffman.html


Eric Osantowski
Eric Osantowski | Interdisciplinary Chemist
U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office

Eric is an Interdisciplinary chemist with the U.S. EPA Great Lakes national Program Office in Chicago, IL.  He works on the Limnology  Program, studying Great Lakes water quality and long-term chemistry trends.

He holds a B.S. in environmental chemistry from Lake Superior State University and completed Basic Airborne Training with the U.S. Army in Fort Benning, Georgia. Eric expects a Ph.D. from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in environmental chemistry from New Mexico this year.

On the cruise, he will assist participants with sampling, analysis and explanation of water chemistry and other media as well as perform Triaxus operations.
In his free time, Eric knits, gardens and works on home improvements. He also enjoys gardening, knitting and raising his baby girl Kylee Elyse, born this May.


Kristin TePas
Kristin TePas | Great Lakes Community Outreach Specialist
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, liaison to EPA's Great Lakes National Program Office

Kristin works with the scientists in U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office to transfer their monitoring and research data into products and publications for community decision-makers.  These products are used to assist coastal communities and other clients in making informed decisions, strengthening policies, and implementing programs that improve the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem. Prior to starting this new position, Kristin was conducting aquatic invasive species related outreach, which included among other things sampling Asian carp filets!

Kristin holds an M.E.M. in Coastal Environmental Management from Duke University and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame.

On the cruise, Kristin will assist with the sampling—showing teachers how to use the Hydrolab data sonde—and also will coordinate the virtual class with Museum of Science and Industry.  In addition, she will provide support for the media activities and manage the media data.

Kristin enjoys doing anything that keeps her outdoors including running, sailing, biking, gardening and cross-country skiing. She also loves traveling and has been on every continent except Antarctica-- which is now high on her list!


Jay Austin
Jay Austin | Associate Professor, Physics Department
Large Lakes Observatory, University of Minnesota, Duluth

Jay Austin is an Associate Professor in the Physics Department and at the Large Lakes Observatory at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. He has a B.S. from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a Ph.D. jointly awarded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He has wide-ranging interests, studying the physical response of the coastal ocean, estuaries, and lakes to atmospheric forcing such as wind and heating. Lately his work has focused on the response large lakes to climate change, and developing a better understanding of the role that ice plays in determining the structure of lakes.


Crew Member
Amy Jo Strange | Able-bodied Seaman, R/V Lake Guardian
Cetacean Marine

Hello from the Great Lakes!  I've been a member of the Lake Guardian crew since 2002 and have been involved with many fresh-water ecology courses on all five lakes. It's always fun and interesting to visit new smaller ports on the lakes and to hang out and eavesdrop on the classrooms and lectures. I always pick up a new factoid or tidbit from one of the instructors.

My main responsibilities are standing a safety and navigational watch on the bridge with one of the officers, and to facilitate science sampling and collection with the marine technician, by operating the deck equipment it takes to deploy the many various instruments aboard the ship. Most of the equipment will be actively demonstrated during the cruise.

Prior to joining the Guardian, I earned a living sail training in traditionally rigged sailing ships traveling extensively on the oceans where I studied for my Coast Guard license on my own. Today, I prefer to sail the Great Lakes, close to my roots, my family and friends.

I enjoy my job because I'm able to interact with every crew member and every visiting or professional scientist who comes aboard.

I've never appreciated more the value of protecting our fresh water resources.

Aboard the Lake Guardian