Chelsea joined the Weisener lab during her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at the University of Windsor, where she was interested in applying her chemistry background to environmental issues. Here, she gained experience performing field work and assisting graduate students with their lab work, but her involvement eventually enabled her to complete an undergraduate thesis project in the final year of her degree. The focus of her project explored the structural dynamics of native bacterial communities within Lake Erie sand sediments to degrade the cyanotoxin microcystin-LR (MC-LR) by designing a column flow-through experiment to mimic the natural exposure route.
After completing her honours BSc degree in the spring of 2020, Chelsea decided to continue pursuing her passion for freshwater resources and water security by enrolling in the Master’s program at the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research in Dr. Weisener’s lab, with partnerships at the Lumigen Instrument Center at Wayne State University. Her research aims to further explore the natural ability of native microbial communities to degrade microcystin toxins using various genomic tools such as metranscriptomics, metataxonomics, and metabolomics. Specifically, she aims to understand the short- and long-term bacterial community responses to microcystin exposure and which genes/species are actively involved in the degradation of microcystin variants. She hopes her work will contribute towards safeguarding the health of Lake Erie’s ecosystem and that in the future she can work to develop water management and reclamation strategies.