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An NSF funded program

Advanced Studies Institute on Water Quality and Harmful Algal blooms in lake victoria, Kenya

An NSF-IRES funded program facilitated by BGSU, KiSII University, Technical University of Kenya, Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute and the African Center for Aquatic research and education

U.S. Student Application Page

Criteria for U.S. Students:

  • A U.S. student enrolled in a U.S. Academic institution

  • Must be pursuing a Masters (2nd year or later) - or PhD-level degree;

  • Studying freshwater systems, specifically harmful algal blooms (HABs)

  • Strong candidates will be studying HABs on the North American Great Lakes (or similar large water body in North America) and have the ability to engage in relevant comparative studies between the water body they study and the African Great Lake, Lake Victoria

 

A successful candidate will:

  • Receive round-trip airfare from the U.S. to Kisumu, Kenya

  • Receive lodging, meals, and local transportation during the scheduled program

  • Have access and use of research equipment and/or consumables necessary for the program

  • Limited travel and health insurance

 

A successful candidate will be expected to:

  • Obtain all necessary vaccinations as detailed by the program lead. Some funds may be provided to offset costs. 

  • Engage and work with a Kenyan counterpart, both in research in the field, and when creating final reports.

  • Travel to Kenya to participate in at least three-weeks of field work, at least five days of which will be on a research vessel in Kenyan waters of Lake Victoria.

 

If you have questions about the criteria or whether this program is a good fit for you, please contact Dr. Timothy Davis.

Specifics of Program

Cyanobacteria, commonly referred to as blue-green algae, can grow to dense concentrations in lakes, rivers, ponds and reservoirs across the globe forming what are known as cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (cyanoHABs; Figure 1; Bullerjahn et al., 2016).  Furthermore, many cyanoHABs can produce toxins that can sicken or kill humans, cattle and other domestic animals.  Indeed, in the last decade major cities in China, the United States, Africa and other parts of the globe have suffered from impaired drinking water due to cyanoHABs (Sitoki et al., 2012; Steffen et al., 2017). Also, many of these cyanoHABs are comprised of the same organism, Microcystis spp., which previous studies have determined to be the most ubiquitous cyanoHAB-forming genus (Harke et al., 2016), and currently it is unclear how Microcystis adjusts its ecological strategies to maintain dominance for long periods of time in lakes from temperate to tropical regions.  Therefore, it is critical to conduct parallel research in comparable lakes from different latitudes to further understand the global ecology of the bloom-forming cyanobacterium, Microcystis spp.

The proposed Advanced Studies Institutes (ASI) will focus on expanding the knowledge of water quality and the Microcystis-dominated cyanoHAB that occurs in Kisumu Bay, Nyanza Gulf, Lake Victoria, Kenya and provide the opportunity for US-based students to expand their research and collaborations into this regionally-important, yet understudied system.  The proposed ASI will leverage current research programs in western Lake Erie, led by Bowling Green State University, and in Kisumu Bay, led by Kisii

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(Left):  Satellite image of the annual cyanobacterial (Microcystis spp.) bloom in Lake Erie, USA (Photo: NASA/NOAA).  (Center) View of Lake Taihu toxic cyanobacterial (Microcystis spp.) bloom during Sept, 2016, Photo: T. Davis) (Right) Photo of a Microcystis spp. bloom along with daily activities in Kisumu Bay, Nyanza Gulf, Lake Victoria, Kenya (Photo: T. Lawrence).

University, Technical University of Kenya and Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI).  Western Lake Erie and Kisumu Bay are similar in that they are both shallow, eutrophic systems that experience Microcystis-dominated cyanoHABs.  However, they are different in that Lake Erie is a temperate system dominated by non-point nutrient sources, whereas Kisumu Bay is a tropical system that receives a mixture of point source (urban) and non-point source nutrient pollution. 

 

The proposed Advanced Studies Institute will focus on expanding the knowledge of water quality and the Microcystis-dominated cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (cyanoHABs) that occur in Kisumu Bay, Nyanza Gulf,  Lake Victoria, Kenya and provide the opportunity for US-based students to expand their research and collaborations into this regionally-important yet, understudied, system.  The proposed ASI will leverage current research programs in western Lake Erie, led by Bowling Green State University, and in Kisumu Bay, led by Kisii University, Technical University of Kenya and Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI).

 

This program’s major component is to go into the field in Eastern Lake Victoria for field research so that students can gain field exposure (sampling techniques), laboratory exposure (sample assessment), expand global view, learn more about HABS, identify similarities and differences of various systems, and work with scientists and students with distinct and various views. In the spirit of scientific inquiry and growth, participants will be paired with a Kenyan counterpart during the field portion of this program and expected to work with that counterpart on subsequent activities, such as data processes, writing papers, and potentially presentations.

 

Please be mindful that this program, for some, will present uncommon and unconventional situations regarding culture, environment, and politics.

Due to COVID-19, this program's first field season will be held in 2022. Applications for Field Season 2022 are due by May 1, 2021 (midnight, North American Eastern Time Zone).

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