CIE Seminar Series – 2019: Life in Glass Houses – Marine and freshwater travels with silica

SPEAKER: Associate Professor Erica Young, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA

DATE: Friday, 24th May 2019

TIME: 1:30pm

LOCATION: Warrnambool Campus, Room G1.01 (Percy Baxter LT)

Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds – room ka4.207 and Melbourne Campus at Burwood –Burwood Corporate Centre

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This talk will present an overview of Si biogeochemistry in aquatic ecosystems. The availability of silica can help structure aquatic phytoplankton communities with Si-requiring diatoms being an abundant and important group supporting food webs in marine and freshwater communities. Lake Michigan is a large freshwater lake within the Great Lakes which is showing long term increases in Si over the last decade. This cannot be explained in terms of changes to inputs, or changing Si demand by diatoms.

This talk with present some of our research to better understand Si cycling in the Lake, and to define the ‘players’ in freshwater Si cycles. Comparisons will be made with recent work on Si incorporation and labelling in marine macroalgae and phytoplankton species in Tasmania.


Erica completed a BS with first class honors in Botany at University of Western Australia before heading to Sweden to work with symbiotic cyanobacteria. She returned to Monash University for a PhD in microalgal physiology of photosynthesis and nitrogen metabolism. After a post-doc in Ireland working on large kelps, she moved to University of Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Her current research spans microbial biodiversity and community analysis, nutrient transformations by key enzyme activities in algal and microbial communities, to biogeochemical cycling of macronutrients in lakes, ponds and coastal oceans. Recent work on silica cycling has brought her to Hobart for a sabbatical at Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at University of Tasmania.

Appointments with speaker may be made via Aleica Bellgrove (

For more info: