Dr. Ross Vander Vorste

2022 UWL Environmental Science Award Winners Ross Vander Vorrste Bella Anderson-18

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.

Cheyana Bassham

bassham0884 2Cheyana joined the Vander Vorste lab in the summer of 2022 and is pursuing a master’s degree in Biology with a concentration in Aquatic Sciences at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse (UWL). She graduated with a B.S. in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology from North Carolina State University in 2021. During her time at NC State, Cheyana worked as a laboratory assistant for Dr. Alonso Ramirez, an education and outreach intern for the Pisgah Conservancy and U.S. Forest Service, and as a wildlife conservation intern for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. She also spent a field season working as a salamander research technician at the University of Georgia. At UWL, her research is focusing on macroinvertebrate communities in side-channels of the Upper Mississippi River.

Ben Patschull

Patschull_IMG_5605Ben Patschull joined the Vander Vorste lab in Spring of 2023 and is being co-mentored by Dr. David Schumann. He is pursuing a master’s degree in biology with an aquatic science concentration at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse (UWL). He obtained his B.S. in Biology at UWL in 2020. Since graduating, he has worked for the Wisconsin DNR at the Long-Term Resource Monitoring field station as both a water quality and fisheries technician on the Mississippi River in La Crosse. He is interested in over-wintering habitats of fish on the Upper Mississippi River.

Undergraduate Students

David Ellefson

David began working in Vander Voste’s lab during the Fall 2022 semester. He is currently a Sophomore at UW-La Crosse going for a bachelor’s degree in Biology with an emphasis in aquatic sciences. In the lab, he is sorting and identifying aquatic invertebrates from samples taken from the Mississippi River system. 

Samuel Flaig

SamFlaigSam is currently a junior at UWL where he is working on completing his bachelor’s in biology with a minor in environmental studies. He began his experience with research during the first semester of his 2021-2022 sophomore year doing undergraduate research in the Vander Vorste lab. Second semester of sophomore year Sam and Ashlee Gander, alongside Dr. Vander Vorste, were awarded a joint URC grant to study the effects of varying temperatures and salinity levels upon Gammarus pulex, a common amphipod, and its ability to consume leaf matter. For the summer of 2022 Sam was accepted to continue research with Dr. Vander Vorste through the Deans Distinguished Fellowship program continuing work involving the emergence of aquatic insects on the Upper Mississippi River. Other than research, Sam enjoys listening to music, lifting at the UWL rec center, fishing, and spending time outdoors.

Kassidy Frame

Kassidy joined the Vander Vorste lab in the fall of 2022 as an undergraduate researcher. She is currently a junior majoring in Biology with an Environmental Science concentration and an Earth Science minor. Previously she worked over the 2022 summer at Trout Lake Station on the Regional Lakes crew and did an independent project on the freshwater mussels of northern Wisconsin lakes. Currently she is working on a project with freshwater mussels for a display in the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Prairie Springs Science Center.

Aaron Murphy

Kourtney Walter

Kourtney WalterKourtney is a senior at UWL going for my bachelor’s degree in Biology with an aquatic science concentration. She is a non-traditional student and currently resides in La Crosse her my husband of 4 years, in their home that they have completely remodeled ourselves. She thrives in the chaos that is her life, working full time and going to school full time. She’s interested in macroinvertebrates and learning new skills. 

Former lab members:

Natasha Bebo (2022)

Ashlee Gander (2021-2022)

Spencer Reichart (2022, UWL Dean’s Distinguished Fellow 2022)

JD Golden (2020-2021)

Dirk Lueck (2020-2021)

Heidi Koehnke (2019-2020)

Aetia Oberman (2019-2020)