Lab Members

Amy by stream in scotland

Amy Burgin, Ph.D. 2007 Michigan State University, B.A. 2002 Coe College

Amy is a proud native Midwesterner, originally hailing from Lacona, Iowa (population 361).  Originally in college, she thought she wanted to go to medical school, but a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in NY (Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies) and NH got her hooked on aquatic ecology.  She also completed a semester abroad in Costa Rica, an experience that further convinced her that ecology was a pretty great way to spend your working life.  She graduated from Coe College with a B.A. in Biology and Environmental Science.  She then started grad school at Michigan State University at the Kellogg Biological Station under the guidance of Dr. Steve Hamilton.  While the REU experience got Amy’s feet wet in streams, working with Steve Hamilton broadened her aquatic interests to wetland and lake ecosystems.  After her Ph.D., she moved to the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in NY to complete postdoctoral work with Dr. Peter Groffman.  Her project there focused on using sensors to measure environmental variables in riparian wetlands.  She was an Assistant Professor in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2011-2015) and  an Assistant Professor at Wright State University in Dayton, OH (2009-2011).  She joined the University of Kansas (Kansas Biological Survey, Environmental Studies, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Depts.) in January 2016 as an Associate Professor.

Please feel free to drop me a note at: or on Twitter: @burginam

Google Scholar Profile    Research Gate   Burgin_short CV

Burgin-Loecke Lab, Fall 2019: (Front L to R): Evan Cortez (Ugrad), Willow Kessler (Master’s), Jess Wilhelm (Ph.D.), Rachel Wakefield (Ugrad), Janaye Hanshcu (Master’s), Terry Loecke (PI), Kaci Zarek (Ugrad); (Middle, L to R): Bri Richards (lab manager), Maddy Foster (Ugrad), Abagael Pruitt (Ugrad), Bethany Green (Ugrad); (Top, L to R): Amy Burgin (PI), Kari Snelding (PREP post-bacc), Kynser Wahwahsuck (Master’s), Sam Thomas (data manager). Absent: Bonnie McGill (Postdoc), Norma Snelding (Ugrad, Haskell), RJ Nagy (Ugrad).

Burgin-Loecke Lab, Fall 2020: Janaye Hanschu (Master’s, 2nd year), Amy Burgin (PI), Sarah Flynn (Ph.D., 1st year), Kynser Wahwahsuck (Master’s, 2nd year), Bri Richards (Lab Manager), Willow Kessler (Master’s, 2nd year), RJ Nagy (Undergrad, 2nd year), Kaci Zarek (Undergrad, 3rd year), Terry Loecke (PI), Rachel Wakefield (Undergrad, 2nd year), Jess Wilhelm (Ph.D., 2nd year), Kari Snelding (Master’s, 1st year) and Samantha Thomas (MAPS Data Manager)

Individual Lab Member Bios

Lab Manager, PhD Students, and Master Students

Bri Richards (Queen B ~ She/her), KU Water, Soil, & Gas Lab Manager/AIMS Project Manager

B.S., Penn State University, 2010

M.S., Indiana University, 2012

Bri started as our lab manager in May 2019 and started as an AIMS Project Manager in December 2020. Before joining the lab, she was a wetland consultant for Burns & McDonnell Engineering for seven years in KC and a seasonal National Park service wildlife technician. She runs all instruments, handles sampling inventory and processing, and trains new students.

Twitter: @persicaria61

Jessica Wilhelm (She/her), EEB Ph.D. Student (June 2019-present)

B.S., Ithaca College, ‘13

M.S., Plymouth State U, ’15

Before joining the lab, Jess worked at the EPA in Ada, OK. Jess is interested in how hydrology, biogeochemistry, and microbial communities in intermittent streams interact to affect GHG emissions. She’s interested in understanding the spatial and temporal dynamics of intermittent streams as a terrestrial-aquatic interface, and ultimately how these freshwater ecosystems contribute to the future of water resources.

Twitter: @jessicafwilhelm

Sarah Flynn (She/her), EEB Ph.D. Student (August 2020-present)

B.S., NKU, 2017

Prior to joining the lab in August 2020, Sarah performed material testing and soil classification for Terracon Consultants, Inc. She is interested in how stream intermittency impacts water quality, and hopes that her work can inform policy regarding access to clean drinking water.

Twitter: @ecosarahflynn


Janaye Hanschu (She/her), EEB Master’s student (Jan 2019-present)

B.S., KSU, 2017

After completing her undergrad at KSU (Dec 2017), Janaye worked for a year as a research assistant in Dr. Lydia Zeglin’s lab. She started her M.S. in EEB in January 2019. Janaye spent a lot of time in our lab in Spring 2018 assisting with the field and lab work for the Kansas River Nitrogen project (Farmland). Janaye’s work focuses on understanding the biogeochemical triggers of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in midwestern lakes.

Twitter: @HanschuJanaye

Willow Kessler (She/her), EEB Master’s (Aug. 2019-present)

B.A., Ottawa University, 2017

EPSCoR Soils Technician, 2018-2019

Willow worked as a technician for a year on the EPSCoR-MAPS project prior to starting her Master’s in EEB. She is co-advised by Ben Sikes and Terry Loecke. Her work focuses on microbial nutrient coupling across land uses in Kansas.

Kynser Wahwahsuck (She/her), EEB Master’s Student (Aug 2019-present)

B.S., Haskell Indian Nations University, 2018

Kynser graduated from Haskell Indian Nations University in May 2018 and completed the Haskell Environmental Research Studies (HERS) internship and KU’s Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) before starting as a Master’s student in 2019. Her graduate work focuses on nitrogen processes in streams affected by land use (cropland and grassland).

Twitter: kynzwinz

Kari Snelding, Master’s student (Aug 2020-present) 

B.S., Haskell Indian Nations University, 2018

Kari started in August 2019 in the Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) and is now a Master’s student. She is interested aquatic ecology, biogeochemistry, and stream metabolism. Her work focuses on stream metabolism and land use (ag vs. prairie).



Kaci Zarek (She/her), Environmental Studies, KU Honors Program, Emerging Scholars Student (2018-2020)

Kaci is a senior from Norfolk, NE and expected to graduate in May 2022 with a B.S. in Environmental Studies. This is Kaci’s fourth year in Dr. Burgin’s lab. She did an independent research project during COVID using fluorescence spectroscopy to characterize dissolved organic matter in eastern Kansas streams and is currently running AIMS water samples on the MIMS to study dissolved gases in intermittent streams. She loves measuring gases, freshwater ecology, biogeochemistry, and being in the lab!

Twitter: @kacizarek


Rachel Wakefield (She/her), Ecology and Organismal Biology

Rachel joined the lab in May 2019 and assists with a variety of projects as needed. Her favorite instrument is Izzy the IC. Rachel is a senior from Olathe, KS pursuing a bachelor’s in EEOB. She really enjoys working in the lab and is thrilled to be gaining lab and field work experience.

Twitter: @RachelWakefie11

Eva Burke (She/her), Ecology and Organismal Biology (EEOB) and Environmental Studies, KU Honors Program

Eva is a sophomore from Shawnee, KS majoring in EEOB and Environmental Studies.

Twitter: @evalizburke

Simmi Rana (She/her), Environmental Studies, KU Honors Program

Simmi joined the lab in June 2021. She is a junior interested in the impact of agricultural activity on soil and water.

Twitter: @simmi_r_

Riddhi Duvvur (She/her), Environmental Studies, KU Honors Program

Riddhi joined the lab as an REU in summer 2021. She is a sophomore interested in soil biogeochemistry. In her free time, she loves playing tennis, throwing around a frisbee, and painting.

Honorary Lab Members:


A & Z Burgin – our twin 6 year olds. In case you were wondering who is driving this boat, it’s definitely these two. They love the river, the lab and the students. And dogs.

Former Undergraduates:


Abagael Pruitt, Environmental Studies

Abagael is from Ottawa, KS, and graduated in May 2020 with a B.S. in Environmental Studies. Abagael is currently a Ph.D. student at Notre Dame in Dr. Jennifer Tank’s lab.

Maddy in a stream

Madison Foster, Environmental Studies

Maddy is from Topeka, KS and graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Studies in May 2020. She’s completed projects on soil mesocosms project (within MAPS), greenhouse gas emissions from groundwater irrigation systems, and denitrification from insect guts (with collaborators at Flathead Lake Bio Station). Currently, Maddy is an M.S. Student in Montana.

Evan setting sensors

Evan Cortez, Environmental Studies

Evan grew up in Olathe but spent his adult life in the Pacific Northwest before moving back to Kansas a couple years ago. He joined the lab in January 2019 and graduated in May 2020 in the Environmental Studies Program. After graduation, he intends to continue his work in water quality.

Snelding, Norma and Chet

Norma Snelding, Environmental Science (Haskell)

Norma began working in the lab in June 2019. She is a sophomore at Haskell Indian Nations University majoring in Environmental Science.


Bethany Green, Environmental Studies and Geography

Bethany graduated in May 2020 with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a BGS in Geography. She joined the lab to gain research and fieldwork experience, as well as to explore her interest in water resources and water quality at a hands on level. Currently, she works at the KDHE Water Division.

RJ Nagy, Environmental Studies/Emerging Scholars Program (2019-2020)


Emma Overstreet, former lab manager and undergrad (2016-2019)

Emma started working in the lab in 2016 as an undergrad. She graduated with a degree in EEOB in Dec. 2016 and took over as lab manager until June 2019. She is currently working for the U.S. Forest Service in CO.


Brandon Kannady

Brandon joined the lab in 2017 and is now attending medical school. While in the lab Brandon did a project on CAFOs and how they affect the water chemistry of streams in a lower Kansas River Watershed.


Cay Thompson, Haskell Indian Nations University BRIDGE Program (May 2017-Aug 2018)

Cay measured GHGs in the Haskell Wetlands and worked on the Kansas River Nitrogen release (Farmland) Project.


Richard Nguyen

Richard joined the lab through the Emerging Scholars Program in 2017. He assisted others with filtering, sampling, and running various instruments like the IC. In 2021, he hopes to graduate with a Bachelors in Clinical Laboratory Sciences.

Teresa Swantek, Emerging Scholars Student (2018-2019)

Teresa Swantek

Grant Daily, Emerging Scholars Student (2017-2018)

Grant Daily
Josh Dutton, KU EEOB

Austin Brewer
Austin began working in the Burgin Lab in Feb. 2016, shortly after it was established. He gained a lot of research experience while in the lab, majored in biochemistry, and hopes to pursue a career in research after graduation.


Shawyan Ahmadian
Shawyan gained knowledge in aquatic ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry, and microbial ecology while in the lab. He always had an interest in the world around him and being a part of the lab gave him a chance to apply his previously attained skills. “By being an undergraduate, I have given myself time to grow as a scientist and an innovator; consequently, I will be able to make great strides in writing and publishing.”

Paniz Borzoofard, KU Undergrad 

Paniz joined the lab to develop skills that would benefit them in medical school. Thus, after graduation they plan to attend medical school to start a career in medicine.

Former KU Grad Students:

Screen Shot 2018-09-06 at 9.52.34 AM.png

Michelle Kelly, EEB Master’s, May 2019

Michelle completed her B.S. at Michigan Tech University in 2017 and her M.S. at KU in May 2019. She studied the Kansas River’s capacity to assimilate a large input of high nitrogen water from a former fertilizer plant (Farmland project).  She is currently a Ph.D. student at Michigan Tech.

Former Postdoctoral Researchers:


Dr. Bonnie McGill, Smith Conservation Fellow and Postdoctoral Associate

Bonnie completed her Ph.D. in May 2018 from Michigan State University. During her final year, she wrote a grant for her Smith Fellowship, the goal of which is to understand how conservation practices affect water quality in Iowa in the face of changing climate and farmer management decisions. Bonnie joined the lab in June 2018. You can read more about her background and science at her website.

Keunyea at our saline wetland field experiment.

Keunyea Song, Ph.D. 2009, Ewha Women’s University, South Korea

Keunyea is interested in how human activities (e.g. agricultural practice or restoration activity) alter ecosystem functions, with a particular focus on nutrient cycling and water quality. Keunyea’s research interests span the fields of limnology, biogeochemistry, and environmental engineering. In addition to her training in South Korea, Keunyea has worked in OH wetlands, the Everglades (Florida) and the Experimental Lakes Area and urban stormwater ponds in Canada. She finds the temperature in Kansas to be “just right.” Keunyea recently started a position as a stormwater monitor specialist with Washington Stat

Research Gate Profile

CV_Keunyea Song_July 2016

Ashley in the field in North Carolina (we don’t even comment on the hat in Kansas…)

Ashley Smyth, Ph.D. 2013, UNC-Chapel Hill

Ashley joined the lab in July 2016, making the transition from saltwater to freshwater. Ashley is broadly interested in biogeochemistry, ecosystem ecology and restoration. Ashley recently completed a David H. Smith Conservation Research Postdoctoral Fellowship where she examined the efficacy of using oysters as a water quality management tool. In our lab, Ashley is exploring factors that control greenhouse gas fluxes in wetland ecosystems. Ashley became interested in biogeochemistry as an REU, where she realized the impact of human activities on elemental cycles and that she really enjoys being covered in mud. Ashley started a tenure-track position with the University of Florida in August 2017.


2016-05-22 17.10.24

Geraldine Norgao, Postdoctoral Associate, Wright State (2009-2011)

Current: Électricité de France (EDF), Paris · [Research Gate Profile]

Geraldine worked collaboratively with the Burgin Lab and Hammerschmidt Lab. She is interested in the intersection of biogeochemistry, bioturbation and water quality. We published on how bioturbation affects the relative importance of denitrification and dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA; Biogeochemistry, 2014) and the effects of alum on water chemistry, particularly in Grand Lake St. Mary’s.

Former University of Nebraska Graduate Students:

Karla Jarecke, M.S. UNL, 2015; Currently Ph.D. student at Oregon State

Karla worked as a technician in our UNL Lab for a year before opting to do her M.S. on linking soil oxygen and greenhouse gas dynamics.  She graduated in May 2015 and published her work in Soil Biology & Biochemistry.

Kaycee Reynolds, M.S. UNL, 2015; Currently at EcoLab in Minneapolis

Kaycee came highly recommended as a graduate of Coe College (Amy’s alma mater). She completed her work using nitrate sensors in Iowa to inform understanding of sampling optimization, which was published in Environmental Science & Technology.

Christa Webber, M.S. UNL, 2014; Currently at Northern Natural Gas

Christa Webber’s M.S. focused on understanding alum and fish removal experiments at the Fremont Lakes Recreational Area in Nebraska.

Valerie Schoepfer, M.S. UNL, 2013; Currently Ph.D. student at Southern Cross University

Valerie started her M.S. at Wright State and moved to Nebraska to complete it in 2013.  She worked on understanding iron-sulfur linkages in coastal wetlands experiencing salt water intrusion, which was published in JGR-Biogeosciences.

Former Undergraduates:

Cassie Chicorz, UNL, B.S. Environmental Restoration Science

Ellen Dolph, UNL, B.S. Fisheries and Wildlife

Cain Silvey, UNL Environmental Restoration Major, Dec 2014; Currently a firefighter with the National Forest Service

Katie Schlafke, UNL Natural Resources Major, May 2015; Current M.S. student at South Dakota State

David Moscicki, UNL Fisheries & Wildlife Major, May 2015

Carrie Adkisson, UNL Fisheries and Wildlife, Dec 2014

Dayton Horton, UNL Water Science

Lindsey Potter, UNL Water Science

Adam Buchli, UNL Fisheries and Wildlife, May 2015

Emily Waring, UNL Biosystems Engineering, May 2014

Emily Hoehn, UNL Water Science, May 2014

Alicia Lenners, UNL Environmental Studies, May 2013; Went on to do Peace Corps in Paraguay

Nick Jenkins, UNL Fisheries & Wildlife

Max Gade, UNL Water Science Major, May 2012; M.S. from Syracuse University (2014), currently working in Environmental Consulting

Jocelyn Olney, UNL Biology, May 2012

Sarah Harvey,Wright State Biology, June 2012

Erin Cull, Wright State Biology, June 2012

Melanie Stall, Wright State in Biology, June 2013

Evan Palmer-Young, Cary Inst. REU student and Cornell U. undergraduate, May-August 2008; Currently a Ph.D. student at UMass Amherst

Philip Riekenberg, University of Texas at Austin graduate intern from Jan-Aug 2007; currently a Ph.D. student at Southern Cross University with Bradley Erye.

Erin Payne, Kalamazoo College SIP and REU, 2006 and 2007; currently a Ph.D. student at U. MI

Scott Crowley, Kalamazoo College Senior Individual Project (SIP), 2005