Broadly speaking, I am interested in ecology and its applications to environmental health. I choose problems that are intellectually challenging yet seem tractable. Increasingly, I also look for problems that matter to society and which are best solved by the combined efforts of an interdisciplinary team of researchers. Throughout my professional career, I have been attracted to complex, multivariate problems, especially those that require the use of mathematical modeling and statistics to dissect patterns and processes. Nothing makes me happier than a large dataset of potentially interacting variables.


Most of my work has been conducted in freshwater lakes, but I am also interested in other ecosystems, including streams, estuaries and grasslands. I enjoy being outside, working with real organisms and dealing with the unexpected events inherent in field research. As a result, my research projects typically combine empirical investigations with quantitative tools, including both statistical analysis and computer programming of theoretical models.


My current projects include investigating the causes and consequences of cyanobacterial blooms in low-nutrient lakes (the Gloeo project) and quantifying dietary exposure to arsenic in humans, especially infants (the P20 project), as part of the Center for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention at Dartmouth. I am also involved with a NH-INBRE project exploring how land-use/land-cover may affect mercury bioaccumulation by fish and invertebrates in New Hampshire streams.


Members of my lab are also investigating the direct and indirect effects of climate change on plankton communities; the biology and ecology of cyanobacterial toxins; the ecology of Vibrio cholera (the bacterium which causes cholera), and how "bubblers" that prevent icing around lake docks affect lake physics, chemistry, and biology. We have also conducted recent studies exploring how environmental conditions affect the ability of phytoplankton and zooplankton to respond to predator signals.


Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about our work.


Lake Sunapee, NH

Photo by Midge Eliassen


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Author: Kathy Cottingham (Kathryn.Cottingham AT
Last Updated: 02 April 2012