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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

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 has determined that cyanobacterial blooms of the central basin are correlated with reduced water clarity and the blooms are non-toxic, but continued monitoring in 2017 will further support these observations.

Stone Lab’s testing for microcystin in Lake Erie islands’ drinking water helped the water plant operators solve a treatment issue and assured the residents and tourists of the islands that the water was free of microcystin and safe to drink.

Atmospheric mercury and mercury in rain water monitoring at Stone Lab contributes to a growing network of scientists working to understand the dynamics of mercury in the atmosphere.

Facilities, equipment, and research vessels available at Stone Laboratory offers researchers a unique setting to conduct research projects in the Lake Erie Islands and in the waters of Lake Erie.

Stone Lab’s water quality laboratory allows the lab to obtain critical information needed answer research questions that were not able to be addressed at the lab prior to 2013.

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

Stone Laboratory coordinated a volunteer charter boat captain water sampling program that generated scientific information and also provided a valuable education experience for fisherman.