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Winters on the Great Lakes are harsh — so much so that the scientists who work there often focus on the summer months, when tiny microbes at the base of the food chain were thought to be most productive.

However, emerging research is changing our understanding of these winter ecosystems and shining a light on a vibrant world of winter activity just below the ice.

Scientists discovered in the early 2000s that communities of diatoms — tiny photosynthesizing algae — were thriving in the light under the wind-swept lake ice. But, it turns out, that was only part of the story.

Steven Wilhelm, professor of microbiology, and Brittany Zepernick, postdoctoral researcher in microbiology, joined Robert McKay from the University of Windsor to research how diatom communities in open waters differ from those that live under ice. Read more about their findings at The Conversation.

UT is a member of The Conversation, an independent source for news articles and informed analysis written by the academic community and edited by journalists for the general public. Through our partnership, we seek to provide a better understanding of the important work of our faculty.



Cindi King (865-974-0937,