Current Students

Taylor Bookout

Taylor BookoutI call Oklahoma City home, first attending Oklahoma State University to pursue a Civil Engineering degree before transferring to Principia College where I got a Bachelor of Science in Biology (Winter 2016).  In my undergrad I focused on wetland restoration and completed an undergraduate thesis that I published (Assessment of a Restored Wetland in West-Central Illinois) looking at soil, vegetation, and herpetofauna of a recently restored wetland.  During my senior year I reconnected with my love of fishing and decided to pursue a job in fisheries, landing at the Illinois River Biological Station (IRBS) as a technician in 2017.  The work on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers intrigued me, but I moved back to Oklahoma in Dec ember 2018 to work as a stream technician working on small rivers and streams.  I was lucky enough to return to IRBS in the fall and had the opportunity to attend graduate school at the University of Illinois looking at the effects of the closure of  several lock and dam structures on the Illinois River for repairs in 2020.  I enjoy the outdoors, addicted to fishing (primarily bass), and playing videogames when the weather isn’t nice enough to be outside.

Cassidy Miles

Cassidy Miles

I am originally from Colorado Springs, Colorado. I grew up in a military family and have lived in many places. My honors biology class in high school sparked my passion for the environment and I knew I wanted to pursue a career in biological sciences. I attended Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville and graduated with my B.S. in Biology in 2013. My first job within the field of natural resources was as a field technician at the Illinois Natural History Survey’s Illinois River Biological Station in Havana, IL where I had briefly met Dr. Lamer for the first time. I then spent several years in the environmental consulting business before I realized I wanted to return to research in aquatic ecology and to pursue a master’s degree. From February 2018 to October 2018 I worked as a field technician for the INHS Great Rivers Field Station in Alton, IL where Dr. Lamer and I met again on a field trip to the Kibbe Life Science Station and subsequently applied for a position in his lab. I am currently in the middle of my second semester of graduate school at Western Illinois University. My project and thesis involves a gear evaluation and aquatic macroinvertebrate survey of the upper Mississippi river.  I also have a passion for public outreach and communication. I am the public relations/outreach coordinator for the WIU subunit of the American Fisheries Society. In my free time I love hiking and playing roller derby!
cr-miles@wiu.edu

Maddie Tomczak

Maddie Tomczak

I am from Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from the University of Toledo in May 2018. I received my B.S in Environmental Science with a concentration in Biology. While attending Toledo, I worked as a technician for the Ohio DNR tracking the spawning of Grass Carp in a Lake Erie tributary. My honors thesis focused on the developmental stages of the Grass Carp eggs collected to describe and track the progression of development from spawning ground to river mouth. I am pursing a master’s degree in Biology at WIU working on the age, growth, and emergence of larval fishes in the Upper Mississippi River. I started in the fall of 2018 and I am currently in my third semester. In my free time I enjoy hiking, camping, skiing, and snorkeling.
mg-tomczak@wiu.edu

Jehnsen Lebsock

Jehnsen Lebsock

I am from Lincoln, Nebraska and graduated with a B.S. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in December 2017 with a major of Fisheries and Wildlife. During my tenure at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln I held a Temporary Lab Technician position with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. At this position I was responsible for various water sampling in lakes, rivers, and streams across Nebraska. We also conducted fish and macro-invertebrate surveys by sampling those same rivers and streams to assess their condition. My research through Western Illinois University under Dr. Lamer will focus on the use of acoustic telemetry to identify movement and habitat preferences of Asian carp in the Upper Illinois River waterway. Growing up I have always enjoyed hunting and fishing with friends and family and that is what has encouraged me to pursue a degree and employment in this field.
jr-lebsock@wiu.edu

Dominique Turney

Dominique Turney

Some would say “Ah, da region? You’re just a Region Rat!”, but I just say I am from Valparaiso, IN.  In 2016, I received my B.S. degree from Purdue University with a double major in Wildlife and Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences.  As an undergraduate, I had the exciting opportunity to work on a variety of research projects.  My junior year, my project analyzed the effects of changes in environmental and anthropogenic stressors during the 2010 Deep Horizon Oil Spill  on the reproductive and physiological success of Gulf Killifish (Fundulus grandis).  As a senior, my project focused on using creel survey data from Indiana and Illinois DNR surveys to analyzed mark-recapture modelling to obtain estimates of angler abundance and migration in Lake Michigan waters.  Since graduation, I have worked as a naturalist aide for the Indiana DNR evaluating glacial lakes and reservoirs under the fisheries management biologists.  I began pursing my M.S. at WIU in January 2018 with my thesis research focusing on paddlefish movement and habitat usage through acoustic telemetry above Lock and Dam 19 on the Mississippi River.  In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with my pup, geocaching, and scuba diving when I get the opportunity!
dd-turney@wiu.edu

Tyler Thomsen

Tyler Thomsen

I am from Thurston, Nebraska and I graduated from Emporia State University with a B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Ecology and Biodiversity in May of 2017. While attending Emporia State University I worked at the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism as an environmental technician. This allowed me to travel all around the state conducting zebra mussel detection surveys, gathering samples for disease testing, and performing vegetation mapping in different Kansas impoundments. I began my Master’s degree in Biology in the Spring of 2018. Working under Dr. Lamer, I will be conducting research on the abundance of larval Asian carp in the Mississippi River utilizing light traps and trawling.  In my free time, I enjoy fishing for catfish, hunting and, watching the Chicago Bears.
tc-thomsen@wiu.edu

Zack Witzel

Zach Witzel

I am from Centerville, Minnesota and graduated from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the spring of 2016 with a major in fisheries and a minor in biology. During my time at Stevens Point I was the president of the fly fishing club for the 2014 school year and the treasurer of the Student Chapter of the American Fisheries Society for the 2015 school year. I also had the opportunity to work for the USGS Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit for two years until I graduated. In the summers of 2016 and 2017 I worked at the Michigan State/Michigan Department of Natural Resources Black River Sturgeon Facility as a research technician. While at the facility I had the opportunity to work with all life stages of lake sturgeon and the biotic and abiotic factors that affect their survival. In the spring of 2018, I joined Dr. Lamer’s and began my research. In my free time, I enjoy spending time outdoors. I enjoy shooting my bow, bow hunting, fishing, hiking, canoeing, and just being outside.
zj-witzel@wiu.edu

Ollie Mendenhall

Ollie Mendenhall

I am originally from Rochester, Missouri and I graduated from Missouri Western State University with a B.S. in Wildlife Conservation and Management in 2014. While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I started working for the Missouri Department of Conservation on the Missouri River. I worked several projects such as: Pallid Sturgeon Assessment Project, assessed fish community in chutes, and a herpetological study of wetlands.  After that, I worked for the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service as a technician. At FWS I worked on Asian carp monitoring for the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. My graduate research at WIU focuses on herpetofauna at the Emiquon and Merwin Preserves.
Co-advised with Dr. Andy Casper (Illinois Natural History Survey)
om-mendenhall@wiu.edu

Chelsea Center

Tyler Thomsen

I am from Normal, Illinois and graduated in May 2017 from the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and an emphasis in Marine and Freshwater Aquatic Biology. I worked for the Illinois Natural History Survey the summer of 2015 interning as a Fisheries Field Technician with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources where I traveled central Illinois doing stream surveys. In addition, I studied abroad in Australia for two semesters in 2016. In pursuit of my M.S. in Biology, I joined Dr. Lamer’s lab in June 2017 where I will be using GPS satellite transmitters to track the movement of Asian carp in the Upper Illinois River. I am a certified SCUBA diver and enjoy underwater photography.
CM-Center@wiu.edu

Sabina Berry

Sabina Berry

I grew up in Nauvoo, IL and moved to Macomb to pursue a Bachelor’s degree at Western Illinois University in 2012. I graduated with my B.S. in Biology with a Zoological emphasis in May 2015, with double minors in Scuba and German (I moved to the U.S. from Germany when I was a child). I began my Master’s degree in Biology in the Fall of 2016 and am now a second semester graduate student. I have always had a passion for aquatic sciences and therefore pursued an opportunity to work in Dr. Lamer’s lab. Although I am new to the lab, I hope to narrow down a research project soon and gain experience by working closely with other students. I anticipate continuing my education in a Ph.D. program for marine biology upon completion of my thesis project. I enjoy scuba diving in any body of water where I can observe freshwater or marine life, whether that’s in oceanic shark feeding frenzies or murky local lakes filled with catfish.
SL-Berry@wiu.edu

Jesse Williams

Jesse Williams

I am from Rochester, Illinois and graduated WIU the Fall of 2016 with my B.S. My degree consisted of Biology with and emphasis in Zoology with a minor in Law Enforcement. I am pursuing my M.S. in Biology and currently quantifying daily growth increments from YOY Asian carp otoliths above Lock and Dam 19 on the Mississippi River. I started my fisheries career volunteering with the graduate students and quickly fell in love with working on the water and with fish. I enjoy fishing and spend as much time as I can around any kind of water body. These two passions led me to the Asian Carp otolith project as an undergraduate. I enjoy hunting, riding four-wheelers, and pretty much anything with a motor in my spare time.
JA-Williams3@wiu.edu

Boone La Hood

Boone La Hood

I’m originally from Spring Bay, Illinois.  I received my B.S. in Zoology with a specialization in Fisheries and Aquaculture and a minor in Environmental Studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2014.  I am interested in the management of invasive fish species, such as Asian carp.  I’m also interested in the preservation and restoration of threatened and endangered sturgeon species.  My research involves using lighted traps to sample for larval fish in Pools 17, 18, and 19 of the Upper Mississippi River.  I’m looking for evidence of Asian carp reproduction and surveying populations of native fish larvae.  My hobbies include jigging for crappies, bow hunting, and listening to Cubs games.
BM-Lahood@wiu.edu

Ashley Stanley

Ashely Stanley

My name is Ashley Stanley and I’m from Danvers, Illinois. I received my bachelor’s degree at Eastern Illinois University in Biology. At EIU I was introduced to fisheries through ichthyology and fisheries management classes with Dr. Colombo. My junior year I took an internship with the Illinois Natural History Survey in Kaskaskia and helped with creel work and regular field sampling for the first time. My senior year I did an independent study cutting and aging silver carp cleithra, sorting larval fish and cutting channel catfish spines. After I graduated I worked as a technician with the Illinois River Biological Station in Havana. After witnessing all the great opportunities that come from having a graduate degree I made the decision to apply to Western Illinois University. This summer at WIU I will be looking at ontogenetic shifts in diets of blue catfish using species specific stable isotope signatures. I will be using hoop nets, and trotlines to target blue catfish. I will utilize fishing tournaments to obtain tissue samples as well.
AL-Stanley@wiu.edu