Scientists in the Lab: Featuring Nicole Lindor

By Samantha Black, PhD, The Science Advisory Board staff writer

January 13, 2020 -- ScienceBoard is happy to continue to feature scientists in the lab this month. The next scientist we are featuring is Nicole Lindor, a doctoral candidate at North Carolina State University.

Nicole Lindor
Nicole Lindor.

As we mentioned earlier in this series, each researcher has a unique role to play in the scientific ecosystem. And on that note, we would like to point out that not all lab work is done strictly in laboratories. Scientists are working in all environments, from micro to macro, under the microscope to in the woods. We are excited to introduce our next scientist, who conducts research primarily in the field but still relies on scientific equipment and experiments to conduct her research.

Nicole Lindor is a doctoral candidate in the last year of her program in the department of plant and microbial biology at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC.

Tell us how you got involved in your current position or laboratory.

When I decided to apply to graduate school, North Carolina State University's plant biology program immediately appealed to me. During my first year I completed rotations through several laboratories within the plant biology program and was most interested by the aquatic ecology research, so I chose this lab.

What questions are you asking with your field research and lab work? Or what answers will your observations help you get?

The overarching question I am asking is how are algal assemblages in eutrophic freshwaters, a drinking water reservoir in this case, responding to changes in available nutrients? And from there other questions, such as the importance of nitrogen versus phosphorus, or differences in the algae present by season stem.

What will your work contribute to the scientific community and the public at large?

Algae are integral to water quality, so it is important to know what species are currently present, which are the most common, and if harmful species are present. If we are able to observe shifts in the algae that are present to different nutrients and quantity of nutrients available, we will be better able to predict and respond to algal blooms, which is especially necessary for managing harmful or noxious algal blooms.

What types of data do you collect and what analysis do you typically perform?

My experiments are completed in the field, where we collect environmental data (water temperature, pH, available light, dissolved oxygen), water samples for nutrient analyses (nitrogen, phosphorus), and algal samples for identification and cell counts.

What equipment and supplies do you rely on to conduct your research? What is the most innovative way you have used these supplies? (Creativity counts in the field!)

The most innovative equipment would have to be repurposing a trash can to hold 32 gallons of water to disperse for experiments -- if you acid strip a trash can, it works to keep a large amount of water continually mixed so no sediment or cells can settle and the water is as similar as possible between treatments. Most often though, you will find me at the microscope counting and identifying preserved algal cells after they have been settled via the Utermöhl sedimentation method.

What future directions do you hope to pursue in your research career?

I am eager to stay in the aquatic ecology field, broadly focusing on topics such as water quality, harmful algal blooms, algal physiology, and invasive aquatic species research. I hope to work in academia, where I can build collaborations, teach, and mentor undergraduate students as they complete research projects!

Do you have any publications or materials that readers can reference if they want to learn more about your work?

Soon!

Scientists in the Lab
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