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About Dr. O

I am an ecosystem ecologist and aquatic biogeochemist who studies the transformation and movement of matter and energy in watersheds. My research investigates how global and regional scale stressors affect lakes and is built around two key questions: How do multi-scaled stressors alter the structure and function of lakes? And what factors mediate lake responses to environmental change?

My research splits into two complementary themes: aquatic biogeochemistry in mountain ecosystems and data-intensive landscape limnology using both predictive and process-based models. We are particularly interested in the ways that hydrology and landscape settings influence heterogeneous patterns in lake chemistry and ecosystem metabolism. ​

My career path


After leaving New Hampshire and slowly making my way out west, I landed in Colorado. I was drawn to the western U.S. for my doctoral work because the sensitive, high-elevation lakes of the Rockies are natural laboratories for studying how global stressors such as pollution and climate change affect different aspects of these ecosystems. I received my Ph.D. in Ecology from Colorado State University where I studied how atmospheric deposition of nutrients and recent climate change have altered the ecology of Colorado mountain lakes. I worked in the Loch Vale Watershed  Long-Term Ecological Research & Monitoring Program. In recent years, we have seen a rise in benthic (lake bottom) algal blooms in our subalpine and alpine lakes, and we are doing ongoing work to investigate these changes, both in Loch Vale, as well as in other remote "pristine" lakes.

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Between Fall 2019 and Spring 2021, I worked with Dr. Chris Solomon at the Cary Institute for Ecosystems Studies. With his research group, we investigated the drivers of inter-annual variability in lake metabolism and showed how hydrologic setting influences how lakes respond to changes in precipitation from year to year (learn more here!). We are also wrapping up a project where we calibrated a process model that predicts lake productivity from a few easily measured variables in lakes.

University of Wyoming

Between 2021 and 2023 I worked with  Dr. Sarah Collins at the University of Wyoming. There, I was part of a team of scientists in the Modelscape consortium. I'm currently wrapping up work to investigate how lakes are responding to disturbances in their watersheds, notably wildfire. 

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