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: burginam<<<at>>>>gmail<<<<dot>>>>com or on Twitter @burginam

Google Scholar Profile    Research Gate   Burgin_short CV

Burgin-Loecke Lab, Fall 2019: (Front L to R): Evan Cortez (Ugrad), Annie Telegin (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:

Bri Richards, KU Water, Soil, & Gas Lab Manger

Bri New Pic

B.S., Penn State University, 2010

M.S., Indiana University, 2012

Bri started as lab manager in May 2019. She was a wetland consultant for Burns & McDonnell Engineering for seven years in KC. She runs all instruments, handles sampling inventory and processing, and trains new students.

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


Janaye completed her undergrad at KSU (Dec 2017) and  worked for a year as a research assistant in Dr. Lydia Zeglin’s lab. She will be started her MS 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). She is also assisting with large mesocosm (tank) experiments to understand how nutrients affect harmful algal blooms.

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


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. Her graduate work will focus on understanding nitrogen cycling in streams that are predominantly grassland or cropland.

Jessica Wilhelm, EEB Ph.D. student (June 2019-present)

jess new pic

BA, Ithaca College, ‘13

MS, Plymouth State U, ’15

Jess is working to understand how fluctuations In water flow in dry Kansas streams affect stream biogeochemical processing and microbial communities.

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

Kari New pic

B.S., Haskell Indian Nations University, 2018

Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP), 2019

Kari works with sensors and she is interested in stream metabolism and land use effects.

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

Annie Telegin

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.


Abagael Pruitt, Environmental Studies


Abagael is from Ottawa, KS, and I’m expected to graduate in May 2020 with a BS in Environmental Studies. My current project in the lab involves phosphorus cycling in the sediment of Milford Lake. I wanted to join the lab to gain research and fieldwork skills, and I’ve really enjoyed my time here. After I graduate, I’d like to go to grad school and continue doing research.

Madison Foster, Environmental Studies

Maddy in a stream

Maddy is a senior from Topeka, KS in environmental studies. I joined the lab looking for general field research experience but developed an interest in ecosystem ecology in the lab. 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).

Evan Cortez, Environmental Studies

Evan setting sensors

I grew up in Olathe, but have spent my adult life in the Pacific Northwest before moving back to Kansas just over a year ago. I am in my second year at KU and am a senior in the Environmental Studies program.

Much of my work in the lab has been in aquatics, focusing on the dynamics of dissolved oxygen concentration in various aquatic communities.  What I enjoy most is field work and field sample collection, but I also enjoy some of the techniques involved with data processing and analysis. From the time I started working  in the lab I have been encouraged to lean on my past experiences and explore my interest within an ecological setting. After graduation I intend to continue my work in water quality and hope to find a position that allows me the same opportunities to work within the discipline.

Kaci Zarek, Emerging Scholars Student (2018-2020)

Zarek, Kaci

I’m a sophomore from Norfolk, NE majoring in Environmental Studies. This is my second year in Dr. Burgin’s lab and also in the Emerging Scholars Program at KU. I currently run the greenhouse gas samples, methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide in the gas chromatograph (GC). I love gases, so I hope to continue working on the GC. I look forward to what this year entails in the lab.

Norma Snelding, Environmental Science (Haskell)

Snelding, Norma and Chet

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

Rachel Wakefield, Ecology and Organismal Biology


I joined the lab in May 2019 and assist with a variety of projects as needed. I’m from Olathe, KS and am pursuing a bachelor’s in EEOB. I have really enjoyed working in the lab and am thrilled to be gaining field and lab work experience.

Bethany Green, Environmental Studies and Geography


My hometown is Olathe, Kansas. I expect to graduate this May 2020 with a BS in Environmental Studies and a BGS in Geography. I wanted to join the lab to gain research and fieldwork experience in any chosen field. I also wanted to explore my interest in water resources and water quality at a hands on level. I have really enjoyed my time in the lab so far and it has helped me decide that I want to do fieldwork as a part of my career after I graduate this year.

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

Honorary Lab Members:


A & Z Burgin – our twin 3.5 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.

Burgin-Loecke Lab (Fall 2018): Front: Brandon Kannady (ugrad), Bonnie McGill (postdoc). Left: Samantha Thomas (EPSCOR data manager), Michelle Kelly (MS student), Amy Burgin (PI), Terry Loecke (PI), Kynser Wahwahsuck (Post-BS PREP student), Kaci Zarek (1st Year Emerging Scholar). Back row: Emma Overstreet (Lab Manager), Abagael Pruitt (ugrad), Maddie Foster (ugrad), Richard Nguyen (ugrad), Toll Telegin (tech), Teresa Swantek (1st Year Emerging Scholar).

Former Undergraduates:

Emma Overstreet, former Lab Manager and undergrad


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

Brandon Kannady


My hometown is Overland Park, KS. Major Ecology Evolutionary, Organismal biology Fall 2018. In the lab I assist in running the SmartChem, IC, and I manage NEON shipments. I joined the lab to pursue my passion for environmental conservation and to study how human actions have dire consequences for the environment. I plan to attend medical school starting next year.

Teresa Swantek, Emerging Scholars Student (2018-2019)

Teresa Swantek
Hometown: Shawnee, Oklahoma
Major: Environmental Studies B.A.
Expected Graduation Year: 2022
What you do in the lab: Emerging Scholar
Why you wanted to join the lab: I joined because I wanted to expand my knowledge of the field I am studying beyond a classroom setting.
Plans for your future: I am still exploring my options, but it will definitely be something that brings me joy.

Cay Thompson, Haskell Indian Nations University BRIDGE program


Lab member May 2017-August 2018. Measured Greenhouse gases in the Haskell Wetlands and worked on the Kansas River Nitrogen release (Farmland) project.

Richard Nguyen


Hometown is hard to pick for me between Westminster/Anaheim, CA which was where I came from before moving to Kansas and where I resided for most of my life or Sioux Falls, SD where I graduated HS and enlisted from. I am currently pre-Clinical Laboratory Sciences finishing my last pre-requisite science courses. Currently a Sophomore this fall and will be a Junior this upcoming spring (hopefully) and graduate 2021 with a Bachelors in Clinical Laboratory Sciences.

In the lab, I am a jack of all trades. I mainly help Emma and other students with their projects filtering, sampling, or running various instruments in the lab. I’m gaining valuable lab experience and having fun.

During my transition out of the Marine Corps shortly after I received my acceptance letter from KU, Emerging Scholars program had reached out through email and I jumped on the opportunity. Having already gained experience in healthcare through hundreds of hours of volunteer work. I wanted to gain more laboratory experiences as required by the CLS program. I was also interested in ecology and opportunity to work outdoors and explore my new home.

Grant Daily, KU Emerging Scholars program (2017-18)


Josh Dutton, KU EEOB


Austin Brewer, KU Undergrad 


I began working in the Burgin Lab in February 2016, shortly after it was established. I am majoring in Biochemistry and hope to gain a lot of research experience while working in the lab. My background in science thus far (from High School science classes and projects) has mainly focused on  phytoremediation using algae. I won local and international awards using this project as a focus. I hope to pursue a career in research after I graduate.


Shawyan Ahmadian, KU Undergrad

I had always had an interest in the world around me, pursuing science only gave me a greater opportunity to truly understand it. Working under Dr. Burgin has given me the the chance to expand my understanding of aquatic ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry, and microbial ecology. My initial purpose for going into research was to apply my previously attained skills in the field to produce breakthroughs that would ultimately help our society. By being an undergraduate, I have given myself the time to grow as a scientist and innovator; consequently, I will be able to make great strides in writing and publishing.

Paniz Borzoofard, KU Undergrad 

I am majoring in Biochemistry and Psychology with a Pre-Med focus. I hope to gain experience in the lab and develop skills that will benefit me during medical school. My current research experience has centered around my high school project in which I used celastrol to kill and inhibit colon cancer cell growth. After college I plan to attend medical school and start a career in medicine.

Former KU Grad Students:

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

Keunyea at our saline wetland field experiment.

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

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

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.


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

2016-05-22 17.10.24

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