Ten students from Iowa high schools participated in the two-week course and earned college credit. The instructors of the CPD course always expect a lot, but the class of 2016 vastly exceeded expectations with their hard work and extreme enthusiasm for diatoms.

The class jumped into local waters, with field trips to West and East Lake Okoboji, Spirit Lake, Silver Lake Fen, and the Freda Haffner Kettlehole. The class also had a “not-so-local” field trip to Nebraska, to the Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park. This trip was particularly fruitful and fortuitous, as only a month earlier a 12 million year old fossilized algal mat had been discovered. The students were actually able to examine the fossil algal mat to find diatoms, especially taxa in the genus Aulacoseira.

Students completed in-depth autecology treatments of diatoms found in Iowa, including Rhoicosphenia abbreviata, Mastogloia lacustris, Rhopalodia gibba, Epithemia turgida and Gomphoneis olivaceum. For a final project, students completed research on Diatoms in West Lake Okoboji and Minnesota Salt Lake, Diatoms in West Lake Okoboji and Lake Tahoe with special treatment of Ulnaria species, and Miocene diatoms in four locations in the Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park.

Many thanks to the Friends of Iowa Lakeside Laboratory, Iowa Lakeside Laboratory RRC, and the University of Iowa for making it possible for young people to study nature, in nature!

May these students go forth, and do great things!


  • Friends of Lakeside Lab

    - Supported all ten students in the course


Sylvia Lee

Biologist U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Kerry Howard

Truckee Meadows Community College

Shelly Wu

Diatom Enthusiast

Kevin Dong

Jane Shuttleworth

Iowa Lakeside Laboratory

Kerry Kettlehole Group
Image Credit: Kerry Howard
Frieda Hafner Kettlehole
Little Sioux Keyara Zuali
Image Credit: Sylvia Lee
Little Sioux River
Olivia West O Plankton
Image Credit: Sylvia Lee
Plankton collection of West Lake Okoboji