Graduate Studies

Outstanding Biology Thesis Submitted to Competition

The Office of Graduate Studies is pleased to announce the submission of a GVSU thesis to the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) Thesis Competition! This year's submission was selected out of 5 nominations from various graduate programs at GVSU. Each school may only submit one thesis for inclusion in the competition.

This is the third consecutive year that GVSU has participated in the MAGS Thesis Competition. This year's nomination is by Whitney Nelson who graduated from GVSU in December 2011 with a Master of Science in Biology (Aquatic Sciences emphasis). Her thesis, titled "Composition and Toxic Sensitivity of Benthic Macroinvertebrate Assemblages in Muskegon Lake, a Great Lakes Area of Concern" was described by the reviewing committee as one that "tackled a significant, real-world problem for fresh water lakes" and "makes a valuable contribution to the field."

Whitney is currently at the University of Arkansas working on the genus Monatractides (Acari: Hydrachnidia, Torrenticolidae) and her PhD work will involve describing the species within this genus and producing a phylogenetic hypothesis for the group using both morphological and molecular techniques. She also hopes to explore the use of Hydrachnidia as water quality indicators. Additionally, as water mites in the family Torrenticolidae have been found in nearly all biogeographic regions, she expect that the PEET Water Mites of North America project will provide an excellent opportunity to investigate the community patterns of these water mites using geospatial analysis and modeling techniques.

The publication is now available online at the following link:
Nelson, W.A., Steinman, A.D., Changes in the benthic communities of Muskegon Lake, a Great Lakes Area of Concern, J. Great Lakes Res. (2013),


This year's review committee included:
Dr. Colleen Brice, Department of English
Dr. Robert Deaner, Department of Psychology
Dr. Joe Iannelli, School of Engineering
Dr. Jeffrey Potteiger, Dean of Graduate Studies
Dr. John Stevenson, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies
Dr. Jennifer Winther, Department of Biology

Page last modified March 15, 2013