Lab News

mercedes and robert graduationAugust 11, 2023.  Robert Feder and Mercedes Pinzon both graduated with their MS degrees today.   Their research will help Louisiana manage the nearly 3 billion dollar coastal restoration river diversion operations.  Mercedes has relocated to Orlando, FL where she has joined the laboratory of Dr. Lisa Chambers in pursuit of a Ph.D. at the University of Central Florida.  Robert will be moving soon to Washington DC where he will being a a year paid Knauss Fellowship funded by NOAA working with Policymakers on Environmental Issues.  They will be missed but we are excited for their new adventures ahead !









people in white coatsJuly 18, 2023.  Dr. White was in London again assisting with the Study Abroad Program where undergraduates from LSU spend a month learning about Urban Sustainability and Water Resources.  We visited Cranfield University which does research on improving wastewater performance and is working on the "airport of the future" among other attractions including "The living lab" and the National Soil Survey archive for the UK.


robert defenseJune 22, 2023  Robert sucessfully defended his Master's thesis research entitled "Effects of coastal freshening on porewater chemistry and nutrient availability in brackish marsh soils: Implications for biogeochemical resilience in Barataria Basin, LA". Next up for Robert is working on submitting his research papers and graduation on August 11, 2023.  Robert has received word that he has received a Knauss fellowship from NOAA in Washington DC.




person standing at boardJune 16, 2023  Mercedes successfully defended her Master's thesis research entitled "Impact of Sediment Diversion for Coastal Restoration on Nitrogen and Phosphorus Biogeochemical Cycling in Coastal Louisiana, USA".  Next up for Mercedes is working on submitting her research papers and graduation on August 11, 2023.  Mercedes will be joining Dr. Lisa Chambers laboratory at the University of Central Florida to pursue a Ph.D. after graduation.





field siteJune 13-15, 2023  Drs. White and Hiatt were invited to attend a DOE on site review at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland.  The site has impressive real time data collections for forests and coastal wetlands.





June 6-7, 2023  Drs. White and Li were invited to attend a NOAA-sponsored workshop in Biloxi, MS aimed at setting up a Habitat Focus Area spanning the LA and MS coastlines that are affected from episodic flood releases from the Mississippi River through the Lake Pontchartrain Estuary out into Mississippi Sound. 

two peopleJune 1, 2023  Both Mercedes and Robert presented oral presentations and poster presentations at the State of the Coast Conference in New Orleans, LA outlining their research importance to the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan.  The college wrote a story about their research located  HERE  







two students on boatlee and james coring on lake PMarch 26, 2023  The WABL was out on the Lake Pontchartrain Estuary collecting cores for James' and Kate's undergraduate research project.  Lee came along to help out piston coring and to get a first hand look at his study site. 

March 16-18, 2023  Both DOCS Adjunct Faculty Member Dr. Jacob Berkowitz and  Dr. White hosted a Hydric Soils Identification and Delineation Workshop at LSU for consultants and graduate students.  Here we are down by the Mississippi River levee identifying soils.

class by levee


class at local schoolFebruary 16, 2023  Dr. White's Wetlands and Water Quality (Service-Learning) class visited Iberville Math, Science, Arts Academy to talk with the high school students about succeeding in college and different STEM jobs.  These high school students will mostly be first-generation college students and this was a great opporunity for the LSU students (Team Duckweed in the picture on the left) to share what they have learned thus far in their academic journey.  This was the 9th  out of 10 years (no visit in pandemic year) that we have visited with the high school students.  

kate and jacob coringjames and jrw coringFebruary 12, 2023  While the rest of the world was preparing for the Super Bowl, The WABL was hard at work in Barataria Bay collecting marsh cores for Jacob's and Robert's Salinity freshening experiment.  It was a chilly start but a beautiful boat ride out and back from Myrtle Grove and we did make it back in time for the game !  The picture on the far left depict Kate working dilligently hammering in core tubes while Jacob supervises.  The picture on the right shows James and Dr. White setting up more cores for hammering in. 


john and randy standing by truckFebruary 2, 2023  HAPPY WORLD WETLANDS DAY !!!  The College wrote a story highlighting some of the College's recent wetlands research.  The story is located  HERE The Picture is a blast from the past, Dr. White circa 1991 with his MS advisor Dr. Parkinson after battling red mangroves all day in Florida.

January 2023 - The WABL enters a new semester and a new year.  Due to the pandemic and other associated factors, we have a backlog of  papers which we are seeking to get out the door and get published.  The WABL will try and "catch up" this year with a goal of 14 published papers in 2023, breaking the previous record of 13 papers in one year set in 2012.  The problem with doing great science and not getting it published is that no one ever knows what you did.  We are well on our way with 3 papers published/accepted, 2 in revision and 3 more in review.   We look forward to submitting papers by Jacob, Mercedes, Robert and James in the coming months. 

students holding awardsNovember 25, 2022 - The College of the Coast & Environment had its Awards Convocation after long last.  Pictured are from left to right, undergraduate researcher, Kate Landholm - winner of the Anne Atherton Adrian Endowed Scholarship; Graduate student Jacob Cheng winner of the Warren "Whip" Mermilliod Scholarship; Graduate student Mercedes Pinzon; winner of the Joseph Lipsey Sr Memorial Award and the William H. Patrick Jr. scholarship for wetlands expertise, Missing from photo:  Former Ph.D. student Yadav Sapkota,  who won the College of the Coast & Environmental Outstanding Dissertation Award and Graduate student Robert Feder who won the William H. Patrick Jr. scholarship for wetlands expertise.  Congrats to all the WABL members  for winning a collective $12,000+ in scholarship awards.

front page manuscriptNovember 12, 2022 - The WABL's recent published research was highlighted today in the local paper as support for the planned coastal restoration projects to help slow wetland loss in the MIssissippi River Delta.  The article is located HERE

students at conferenceNovember 6-9, 2022 - More Awards  A few members of the WABL headed to Baltimore, Md. to attend the Soil Science Society of America International Annual Conference.  Both Mercedes and Robert presented their Masters research results in a Rapid 5 minute oral presentation followed by a poster session later that afternoon.   Congratulations to both, as Mercedes won 2nd place in the Student competion for Wetland Soils and Robert won 3rd place, both with cash prizes !! 

havin marshAlumni Update:  Dr. Havalend Steinmuller is taking a faculty position at Dauphin Island Sea Lab in January 2023,  where she will be an assistant professor with University of South Alabama.  Havalend will be the Fourth WABL Alumni to take a faculty position joining Dr. Jeremy Conkle (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi), Dr. Lisa Chambers (Univ. of Central Florida) and Dr. Eric Roy (Univ. of Vermont).

award winnersOctober 2022  The WABL received a number of graduate student college awards.  From left to right; Jacob Cheng received the Warren "Whip" Mermilliod Scholarship;  Mercedes Pinzon received the Joseph Lipsey, Sr. Memorial Scholarship Award and the William H. Patrick, Jr., Scholarship for Wetlands Expertise and Robert Feder was awarded the William H. Patrick, Jr., Scholarship for Wetlands Expertise.  Congratulations to All !!!  The list of all the college awards is located HERE





james and mercedes in fieldtwo people collecting coresOctober 21, 2022  Mercedes and James traveled out to Barataria Bay to collect 40+ cores for her research on how sediment diversions will affect Phosphorus cycling.  (left) The sign in the background warns of a channel being dredged to bury a new natural gas pipeline in support of the plaquemines Liquidfied Natural Gas export facility which will export 20 million metric tonnes per year, so the folks up north can stay warm in the winter. (right) Mercedes instructs James' on coring technique.


students at open houseOctober 19, 2022.  Mercedes, James and Kate were on hand with Jacob and Robert to try and recruit undeclared undergraduate majors to the Coastal Environmental Science Program at the College open house.  They were enthusiastic in explaining why wetland soil is so important.

students on mississippi riverOctober 13, 2022.  Mercedes, Kate and James all ventured out on to the Mississippi River down at Mardi Gras Pass.  This is place where the levee was breached by the river.  The team was sampling for Mercedes experiment in the delta, now being formed as a result of the levee breach.  This sediment will be placed on marsh cores to replicate the impact of a sediment diversion on N and P cycling.

jacob happyOctober 3,  2022.  Congratulations to Jacob Cheng for getting his undergraduate research entitled "Dredge-Material Created Coastal Marshes Are More Effective at Improving Water Quality Than Natural Marshes in Early-Stage Development" accepted for publication in Ecological Engineering.

three people sitting on boatstudents standing in marshSeptember 25, 2022.  Robert led his team out to Barataria Bay to collect soil for his research experiment #2 which will investigate the effects of salinty changes on microbial processes.  It was hot, but a real nice boat ride.  We also ran around and set more erosion poles in the marsh in preparation for hurricane season.

award ceremony LSUSeptember 23, 2022.  Drs. Rabalais and White were honored by LSU President Tate and the Boyd Professors for their recent awards at a dinner reception along with 7 other faculty from across the LSU system.  The lsu story is located here.

class walking in parkJuly 6 - August 1, 2022 - Dr. White was in London, UK co-teaching a study abroad class on Urban Sustainability with faculty Members, Drs. Pardue, Willson and Kees from LSU Civil and Environmental Engineering.  Thanfully, It was much cooler in London compared to Louisiana in the dead of summer!

james by signSummer 2022 - James was awarded a DOE Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship and spent the summer at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.  We look forward to his return when he starts his Honors Thesis research on Phosphorus in Lake Pontchartrain linked to Harmful Algal Blooms this fall.

robert starts coringrobert done coringJune 15, 2022 - Robert successfully collects 24 cores from a brackish marsh in Barataria Bay to impose a freshwater pulse to mimic the river diversion currently under construction. 

jacob and mercedes coringjohn and eddie on boatMay 28th, 2022 - Mercedes and her WABL team traveled out to Barataria Bay to collect 48 soil cores for her Masters laboratory study on Nitrogen Cycling. I think this is a WABL coring record for one trip!  The picture below is a wide angle of the marsh to the right and open water to the left.

wide shot of marsh and open water

mercedes standing in mudmercedes and jrwhite done samplingMay 24, 2022 - Mercedes went sampling at Mardi Gras Pass, a break in the natural levee of the Mississippi River down south of New Orleans, LA.  This sediment will be used to replicate the river diversion placement of mineral sediment over the organic marsh soil, once the river and marsh are connected.

student in arctic measuring water qualityMay 28, 2022 - Alumni Update,  Alina Spera measuring water quality through the ice in the Arctic as part of her Ph.D. research at UTEP.

robert smilingMay 4, 2022 - Congrats to Robert who received a travel award from the Coastal Environmental Graduate Organization at LSU to be used for the Soil Science Society of America Meeting to be held in Baltimore in November 2022.   He just found out that the department will match the travel funds ! 

mercedes collecting award checkApril 28, 2022 - And the Awards Keep Coming for the WABL !  Mercedes Pinzon was awarded the 2022 Louisiana Coast, Ocean, Ports, Rivers Institute (COPRI) scholarship for $500 !  She attended the meeting in New Orleans, LA to collect her cash prize.  In addition, our undergraduate researcher, James Anderson won the undergraduate scholarship for $500 !  Congrats to you both !       

environmental law institute wetland award logojohn at wetland award ceremonyApril 27, 2022 - The Lab received another honor today. Dr. White was the recipient of the National Wetlands Award for Research, awarded by the Environmental Law Institute.  Full details can be found by clicking here. and the LSU story is located here.  No other university has won more than 1 of these awards, except for LSU, where Dr. White is the 6th recipient, all from the College of the Coast & Environment!  The College's wetlands program rules !

lsu discover logo

james presenting talkApril 22, 2022 - James did an excellent job presenting his research as an oral presentation at the LSU University-wide Undergraduate Research Forum entitled "Nutrient Dynamics in Deltaic Wetlands: Implications for Restoration Designed for Saving the Louisiana Coast".  He will be working on submitting the manuscript this summer.

james explaining research posterjacob explaining research posterApril 20, 2022 - James (left panel) and Jacob (right panel) were both presenting their undergraduate research posters at the College of the Coast and Environment Undergraduate Research Symposium to a captive audience.  Well Done ! 

mercedes in kayak

April 18, 2022 - Congratulations to Mercedes who has won a scholarship  from the the New Orleans Town Gardeners Club for $2,500.  Mercedes looks forward to going to New Orleans to talk about how her research will benefit the people and environment of LA.


eddie coringFebruary 23, 2022 - Field technician extraordinaire, Eddie Weeks, is demonstrating piston coring in the Lake Pontchartrain Estuary while James waits eagerly for the appearance of the sediment core.

two students coring in the fieldJanuary 17, 2022 - Undergraduate researchers, James and Jacob collecting cores for research on nitrogen and phosphorus flux in both newly created and established delta wetland soils.  James will present at LSU Discover Day, a research symposium highlighting undergraduate research, to be held on April 22, 2022.

yadav gradDecember 17, 2021 - Yadav proudly accepts his Ph.D. diploma at the College graduation ceremony celebrating with his family.  Yadav finished his Ph.D. in less than 4 years and published 5 papers before graduation. Well Done !

mercedes at agu hallrobert at agu hallDecember 13-17, 2021.  Masters students, Mercedes (left) and Robert (right) attending the American Geophysical Union Meeting in New Orleans, LA.

robert with coremerecedes in marshOctober 30, 2021 - Master's students Robert (left) and Mercedes (right) were out in Barataria Bay, LA collecting wetland soil cores for their research.  Fun in the mud.

James Anderson in Barataria BayJune 14, 2021—Undergraduate researcher James Anderson braved the heat in Barataria Bay to collect water samples for DIC and nutrients as part of our RAPID:NSF grant on hurricane impacts to coastal wetlands.

Katie Bowes headshotJune 11, 2021Alumni Update - Former WABL member, Katie Bowes, was the subject of an Alumni Highlight on the LSU College of the Coast & Environment. We are excited to see Katie using her WABL experience to affect positive environmental change. Read more.

June 8, 2021—The College wishes everyone a Happy World Oceans Day !! Read all about our oceanographic research.

Yadav Sapkota in tall grassMay 11, 2021—Yadav has started his internship/trainingship today in Vicksburg, MS with the US Army Corp of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC).

a man in a grad cap and gown
May 8, 2021
—Congratulations to Erol who graduated Saturday with his Masters in Coastal and Ecological Engineering. He has earned the proud designation as WABL grad student #32. Erol will start working next month as an Engineer for the LA Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority in Baton Rouge, LA in support of Lousiana’s 50 billion dollar coastal restoration plan.

April 2021Alumni Update - Former WABL member, Alina Spera, is back from a trip to the Arctic (Beaufort Lagoons Ecosystem LTER) where she is working on her Ph.D. at UTEP on research on climate change impacts on carbon/nutrient cycling at coastal margins.

a man holds up a wire while seated on a boat
April 15, 2021
—Congrats to undergraduate researcher Jacob Cheng who was awarded first place at LSU Discover Day in Our College Division for his presentation entitled “Effects of Internal Loading on Nitrate Reduction Rates in Created vs Natural Coastal Marshes: Implications for River Reconnection." Jacob also received an award for one of the most visited posters at the 13th International Symposium on Biogeochemistry of Wetlands in March of this year. Next stop – manuscript. Read more about the Discover Day award.

The Lab was recently awarded a Coastal Sciences Assistantship for 2021-2024 for support of a Masters student (Robert Feder, B.S. UF, starting Fall ’21) to focus on research needs in support of the LA coastal Master Plan (summary description at left provided by LA SeaGrant.)

March 22-25, 2021—We are closing in on the start of the 13th International Symposium on Biogeochemistry of Wetlands Conference that Dr. White is organizing. Original plan was to hold conference in Baton Rouge in 2020 but the pandemic caused plans to go virtual and in 2021. We hope you can join us for some interesting wetland research from around the globe.

March 5, 2021—Congrats to Erol who successfully defended his thesis entitled “Changes in wetland soil processes and ecosystem functions six years after marsh creation in Barataria Bay, Louisiana”. Well Done !

yadav award certificateFebruary 15, 2021. Congrats to Yadav for being awarded The Nepalese Student Association of LSU Outstanding Student Award for 2020. Keep up the good work!

February 2, 2021—Happy World Wetlands Day. The College of the Coast and Environment celebrates World Wetlands Day by describing some of the important research the College has conducted in recent years. Read more about World Wetlands Day

Laura’s paper on “The impact of recently excavated dredge pits on coastal hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico shelf “has been recently published in Marine Environmental Research. Congrats !

December 8 , 2020—MP’s and Yadav’s manuscript entitled “Investigating the Impact of in situ Soil Carbon Degradation Through Porewater Spectroscopic Analyses on Marsh Edge Erosion” has been accepted by Chemosphere. This work was a collaboration with M.P. Hayes from Dr. Cook’s group in the Department of Chemistry and our group in Oceanography and Coastal Sciences. Congrats to all!

four images of the same shoreline showing progressive erosionNovember 2, 2020—The WABL was awarded an NSF-RAPID grant entitled ” Waiting to Exhale: Quantifying Tropical Storm-Induced Increased Flux of Coastal Wetland Carbon into the Atmosphere” to study the effects of far-field vs direct impact hurricanes on C dynamic in Barataria Bay, LA. in collaboration with Dr. George Xue. The photos here were taken November 1, 2020 depicting large swathes of marsh torn off by direct strike 85 mph winds of Hurricane Zeta also showing stranded marsh fragments in the bay. (lower right) Our new undergraduate researcher, James, is helping Ph.D. student Yadav reset his erosion poles.



yadav stands near boardOctober 27, 2020—Yadav placed his abstract on the WABL “Wall of Achievement” of the paper submitted to Chemosphere entitled ” Investigating the Impact of in situ Soil Carbon Degradation Through Porewater Spectroscopic Analyses on Marsh Edge Erosion” in collaboration with M.P. Hayes from Dr. Cook’s group in the Department of Chemistry. This is the 11th paper from our current NSF collaborative grant.





Coastal Louisiana has taken it on the chin this Hurricane Season (2020) with a plethora of named storms crisscrossing the state. Hurricane Zeta roared right through our study area, green rectangle (map courtesy of collaborator Dr. George Xue).

September 14, 2020—The College of the Coast & Environment published a story about researchers working on hurricane issues. The WABL's recent work on hurricane induced coastal wetland erosion was included. 

September 11, 2020—The WABL was recently featured in an article by National Geographic entitled “How powerful hurricanes hasten the disappearance of Louisiana’s wetlands."

September 5, 2020—Congrats to Yadav! His most recent paper documenting higher carbon stocks deep in the coastal wetland profile susceptible to erosion and mineralization to CO2 was made available online today, though officially will be a publication in 2021.

August 30, 2020—Yadav visited his coastal wetland erosion sites in Barataria Bay to investigate if the passage of nearby but not direct strike storms Marco and Laura had an impact on the marsh erosion rates. Preliminary data suggests that the erosion rate was more than 40 times the normal rate for both storms.

July 12, 2020—Erol made a foray out to the Lake Hermitage Marsh Creation Project, now ~6 years since construction. His goal is to determine the trajectory of wetland ecosystem processes recovery compared to a natural marsh.

June 9, 2020—Congrats to Peter who successfully defended his thesis by Zoom entitled “Phosphorus Variability in the Area of Influence of the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion” Peter has earned the designation of WABL Graduate student #31 . Peter is now employed by ENCOS Environmental and Coastal Services, a Baton Rouge-based environmental consulting company focused on
Environmental, Compliance, Coastal Services, and Industrial Hygiene.

March 18, 2020—Congrats to Alina! Her first master's manuscript was published in Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Sciences after an excruciating-long review process of seven months. Good things come to those who wait. This research was carried out with Dr. Corstanje’s environmental and agricultural informatics groups at Cranfield University, UK.

March 2, 2020—Congrats to Laura who successfully defended her thesis entitled “Sediment Biogeochemistry of Dredge Pits in the Northern Gulf of Mexico Shelf.” Laura is moving to the “Sunshine State” where she has been hired by Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at FAU.

WABL Hits Manuscript 100 !—The lab just hit a significant milestone in 2020. Manuscript 100 was just published! This accomplishment is due to all the hardworking students and great collaborators who have helped build our wetlands program over the years. Perhaps fitting that manuscript 100 includes 3 former students and one current student as co-authors.

Citation: Steinmuller, H.E., M.P. Hayes, N.R. Hurst, Y. Sapkota., R. Cook, J.R. White, Z. Xue, L.G. Chambers. 2020. Does Edge Erosion Alter Coastal Wetland Soil Properties? A Multi-Method Biogoechemical Study. Catena. 187:104373

November 13, 2019—Congratulations to our PhD student Yadav Sapkota for being selected as a finalist from the wetland soil division of the International Soil Science Society of America meeting held in San Antonio. Yadav won the third place cash award for 5-minute oral and poster presentation in the society-wide competition. #WABL #Bluecarbon #GeauxYadav

October 24, 2019—Dr. Cook’s and Dr. Xue’s Lab joined the WABL in Welcoming Baton Rouge Area students to “Ocean Commotion," a LA SeaGrant sponsored event which engages students on environmental issues relevant to their lives along one of the most dynamic coastlines in the world. The panel at the left show various student groups learning about soil carbon and creating artwork entitled “Carbon Handprints and Fingerprints."

September 15, 2019—Yadav posted his recently accepted paper on the WABL Wall of Achievement, "Carbon offset market methodologies applicable for coastal wetland restoration and conservation in the United States: A review," in Science of the Total Environment. Congrats!

August 2, 2019—Congratulations to Alina Spera on her graduation with her master's degree. Alina’s research was the first temporal and spatial analysis of a large river diversion in Louisiana on coastal wetland soil properties. This project provides valuable information to the state on future operation of the surface water diversions and new restoration efforts. She sets off to work on her PhD looking at climate change in the Arctic with Dr. Lougheed at UTEP.

May 31. 2019—Congrats to Jessica! Her first master's manuscript was published in Science of the Total Environment. This paper was written in collaboration with Dr. Ehab Meselhe from Tulane University.

May 10, 2019—Congratulations to Jessica Vaccare on her master's degree for her research on quantifying water quality ecosystem services in coastal wetlands affected by erosion. Jessica has accepted a job and is in Florida working for an environmental consulting company.

December 14, 2018—Congratulations to Katie Bowes on graduating with her master's for research on impact of surface water temperature on resulting water quality function of wetland soil and submerged sediments. Katie is working in East Central Florida for Martin County, in the Ecosystem Restoration and Coastal Engineering Division.