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Justin Chaffin, PhD | Ohio Sea Grant

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Justin Chaffin, PhD

Senior Researcher, Research Coordinator, Stone Laboratory

About Chaffin

 Justin David Chaffin

Justin Chaffin, PhD

Senior Researcher, Research Coordinator, Stone Laboratory.

Justin Chaffin is the research coordinator at Stone Lab and conducts his own research on cyanobacterial blooms.


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Justin is the research coordinator for Stone Laboratory and conducts his own research on cyanobacterial blooms in Lake Erie. Justin’s duties as research coordinator include arranging visiting researchers’ visits to Stone Lab, coordination of Stone Lab’s REU program, upkeep of Stone Lab’s analytical equipment, maintenance of the lab’s atmospheric mercury monitoring system, and serving as the Lab’s chemical and laboratory safety officer. Justin is also a licensed captain by the United States Coast Guard.

Justin’s research interest is Lake Erie phytoplankton ecology with particular interest in cyanobacterial blooms (cHABs). His recent and ongoing research projects include the role of nitrogen form and light level on cHAB toxicity, quantification of in-lake phosphorus resuspension, the effectiveness of data buoys at measuring cHAB biomass, the central basin cHABs and nutrient dynamics, a comparison of several different water samplers and how well each measure cHAB biomass data, and quantification of the uncertainty associated with ELISA microcystin measurements. Since 2013 Justin has coordinated with charter boat captains who collect water samples once a week for his lab to analyze, and then the captains get a weekly update on Lake Erie water quality.

Justin has lived year-around on South Bass Island and worked at Stone Lab since 2012 after graduation from the University of Toledo with his PhD degree.

Impacts and Accomplishments

Stone Lab is currently developing a HAB toxicity forecast for Lake Erie that should assist agencies and water treatment plant operators in keeping drinking water safe for Ohio residents.

Research conducted at Stone Lab has indicated that data buoys are an effective means to track HABs, but calm weather can result in over- or underestimations.

Stone Lab monitoring determined that central basin cyanobacterial bloom biomass correlated with reduced water clarity and the blooms have the potential to produce harmful saxitoxins.

By testing water treatment plant samples for microcystins, Stone Lab helps ensure safe drinking water for the residents and tourists of the Lak Erie Islands.

Stone Laboratory is one of several locations in North America that monitors atmospheric mercury, and one of only two stations in Ohio.

Facilities, equipment, and research vessels available at Stone Laboratory offer researchers an ideal setting to conduct Lake Erie research, and facilities use has almost doubled after extensive renovations.

By providing hands-on training to students, Stone Lab’s research experience for undergraduate program is training the nation’s next great scientists.ce for undergraduate program is training the nation’s next great scientists.

Stone Laboratory coordinated a Lake Erie water quality monitoring program in which charter boat captains help generate scientific data and provide a valuable educational experience for fishers aboard the captains’ boats.