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Student Profiles

Thomas Clement

David Schuberg

Graduate Research Assistant
Department of Biology

My Central Michigan University education began in 2010 as a biology graduate student. I am currently working on my master’s thesis, studying Great Lakes coastal wetlands. I am interested in how algal community composition changes across a coastal wetland’s natural chemical/physical gradient and how, in-turn, the algal community contributes to feeding the Great Lakes’ multi-billion dollar fishing industry. My B.S. was obtained from Alma College, MI where I focused primarily on molecular biology.

I came to CMU to continue my CMU Biological Station on Beaver Island (CMUBS) experience. I made this connection as an undergraduate and as a staff member, and I knew I wanted to study the archipelago ecosystem as a graduate student.

The Beaver archipelago is truly a unique system within Lake Michigan and CMU biology professors understand that. I am excited by Central Michigan University’s recent push for Great Lakes research, their formation of the Institute for Great Lakes Research (IGLR), and their strong desire to expose undergraduates early in their career to these important ecological issues.

The best feature of CMUBS is that it brings together individuals from all areas and all levels of expertise for cross-disciplinary work within the natural sciences. Thus, as I continued my education, I wanted to keep coming back to CMUBS for the collaborative teamwork I had previously experienced as an employee.

My research will elucidate changes in algal productivity, relative abundance, and species diversity within a coastal wetland. There are natural temperature, depth, and wave energy gradients within these wetlands. I want to better understand how that difference varies across the natural gradient and if any one algal species/assemblage could be used as an indicator for anthropogenic disturbance. Understanding how the quickly adapting algal food base is changing in response to our changing world may help predict how the slower-adapting invertebrates and fish will respond to those same anthropogenic alterations. This informs and enables more efficient management practices that will save time and money for both the government and the private sector (especially here in the Great Lakes watershed).

Once I earn my degree, I hope to continue researching algae in its natural environment. This important aquatic food-base has infiltrated our social structure in many ways, most importantly as a potential large-scale biofuel. I hope to continue researching new ways in which algae can serve our global economy.