Dr. Ross Vander Vorste


I am an Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Throughout my career, I have worked in a variety of freshwater ecosystems including lakes, wetlands, streams and rivers and studied macroinvertebrates, fish, amphibians, plants within these systems.

In 2015, I earned my Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Claude Bernard Lyon 1 in Lyon, France. My Ph.D. advisor was Thibault Datry at the French National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture (IRSTEA now INRAE). Before my Ph.D., I earned my Master’s in Biological Sciences and Bachelor’s in Environmental Management from South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota. I also have 2 years of professional experience working with the North Carolina Division of Water Quality in Raleigh, North Carolina following my Master’s degree.

Following my Ph.D., I was a postdoc at Virginia Polytechnic and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia for ~2 years. My advisors/mentors at Virginia Tech were Stephen Schoenholtz, Serena Ciparis, Carl Zipper and Bryan Brown.  Before beginning my position at UW- La Crosse in Fall 2019, I was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Berkeley working with Stephanie Carlson and Ted Grantham.

Graduate Students

Brad Morris

Brad Morris

Brad joined the Vander Vorste Lab in fall 2019 and is a graduate student in the Department of Biology at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse (UWL). He graduated from Bemidji State University in 2019 where he worked with Dr. Richard Koch, Dr. Debbie Guelda, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to determine if the macroinvertebrate community had an effect on the amphipod abundance in the Prairie Pothole Region of Minnesota. Here at UWL he is researching the effects of inundation duration and the distance from the main channel on aquatic insect emergence on Pool 8 of the Mississippi River.

Undergraduate Students

Samuel Flaig


I am currently a junior at UWL, and am working on getting my bachelors in biology with a minor in environmental studies. I started my experience with research during the first semester of my 2021-2022 sophomore year doing undergraduate research in the Vander Vorste lab. Second semester of sophomore year Ashlee Gander and I alongside Dr. Vander Vorste, were awarded a URC grant to study the effects of varying temperatures and salinity levels upon Gammarus pulex, a common amphipod, and their ability to consume leaf matter. For the summer of 2022 I was accepted to continue research with Dr. Vander Vorste through the Dean’s Distinguished Fellowship program continuing work involving the emergence of aquatic insects on the Upper Mississippi River. Other than research, I enjoy listening to music, lifting at the rec, fishing, and spending time outdoors.

Spencer Reichart

I am currently going into my senior year at UW-La Crosse pursuing a bachelors in Biology as well as a minor in Psychology. I joined the Vander Vorste Lab in spring of 2022, helping fellow lab member Brad Morris work through his samples for his graduate research project. During the summer of 2022, I am part of the Dean’s Distinguished Fellowship program and I will be continuing a study on the productivity and diversity of benthic invertebrates in Pool 8 of the Upper Mississippi. Outside of school, I am a captain on the track team at UWL, I enjoy almost all outdoors activities and also playing music.

Former lab members:

JD Golden

Dirk Lueck

Heidi Koehnke

Aetia Oberman