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

Heidi Koehnke


Hi all! I am currently a senior at UWL pursing a bachelors in Biology and a minor in Psychology. I have been doing research in the Vander Vorste Lab since spring 2020. I have been focusing on Hexagenia mayflies, which are very common around the Mississippi River and the La Crosse area. After graduating this spring, I am planning on applying for graduate school, in hoping to become a Genetic Counselor; but am still weighing on other opportunities in different fields as well. In my free time I love to be outside and be active, which is one of my favorite things about La Crosse because there is so much to do. I also love to travel, go to the beach and take my dog Meeka for hikes.

Dirk Lueck


Dirk is working towards a major in biology with an environmental concentration and an earth science minor. His main interests are in human environmental impact and disturbances, biological community interactions, resource sustainability and habitat restoration and rehabilitation. He hopes to work in the environmental field organizing and managing the restoration and sustainable use of natural resources.

Former lab members:

Aetia Oberman