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UW Oshkosh
Department of Engineering & Engineering Technology

(920) 424-1547
Fax: (920) 424-1581

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Marcel L. Dijkstra, Ph. D.

Assistant Professor, Environmental Engineering Technology


“Marcel is highly motivated and organized. He is bright, technically adept, and well-organized. I have been particularly impressed by the thoroughness of his research. He thinks deeply about technical questions and exhibits an ability to break down difficult concepts in a critical and creative fashion. His ability to mine and analyse the literature in a thorough and creative fashion is exemplary. All these characteristics will serve him well as a scholar.”

– Steven C. Chapra, Ph.D., F.ASCE, F.AEESP, Professor

Current research projects by the WDNR certified Environmental Research and Assessment Lab:

Determination of the impact of zebra mussels on nutrient cycling in Lake Winnebago.

Nathan Nozzi and Tyler Befus running field experiments

Jacob Hernandez doing field sampling in Lake Winnebago

Excessive phosphorous loading to Green Bay causes eutrophication and subsequent harmful algal blooms. These blooms lead to use impairment limiting recreational use and damaging the ecosystem. Approximately half of the phosphorous enters Green Bay through the Fox River. The main source of phosphorus in the Fox River, in turn, stems from agricultural runoff and waste water treatment plant discharge.

In 1978 the Great Lakes Water Quality agreement was enacted to reduce phosphorous loading to the Great Lakes by targeting these sources. As a result loadings decreased and eutrophication issues diminished. Loadings from the early 1980’s onward, however, remained more or less constant. In the mid 1990’s eutrophication increased again possibly driven by a change in the ratio of bioavailable to unavailable phosphorus. The first stimulating algal growth and the later not.

In current efforts to reach water quality goals in Green Bay, no distinction between phosphorus species is made which may result in suboptimal (and very costly) management interventions. In this research we use a Dual Culture Diffusion Apparatus to determine the fraction of bioavailable phosphorus in the Fox River and its temporal variability.

Dual Culture Diffusion Apparatus used to fractionate phosphorus in bioavailable and unavailable pools.

Lake Decatur, IL

Study of phosphorus dynamics


Average concentrations of bioavailable P in each basin of Lake Decatur from 6 June

The elevated bio P level in basin 5 is likely due to the dredging operations. Sediment dredged from the lake is pumped to a settling pond east of the reservoir. The supernatant surface water from that settling pond drains back to basin 5.

Elevated levels in basin 1 seem to originate from an influx of flow from several creeks (draining a primarily agricultural landscape) carrying P with a highly bioavailable character. The high levels of bio P in Basin 1 and 5 may lead to nuisance algal blooms and subsequent water quality degradation. Nutrients in basins 2–6, however, are also at levels indicative of eutrophic conditions and could foster algal blooms as well.

Lake Shelbyville, IL and Carlyle Lake, IL

Study of Nutrient Dynamics

Example of nutrient concentration (Carbon, Nitrogen and Phosphorus shown in panel 1, 2 and 3, respectively) in sediment cores taken at Lake Shelbyville, IL indicating trend shifts in phosphorus loading to the system.

Past projects and involvement

Field sampling efforts in support of ecosystem model development and model confirmation.

View of Lake Superior and the back deck of the R/V Agassiz

Water sampling in Lake Superior using a 20L Niskin bottle on board the R/V Agassiz Research Vessel.

Lake Superior sediment-core taken in waters >200 meters deep


“Marcel loves to teach. He is exceptionally well spoken, with a keen sense of humor, and an engaging personality. As the father of three, Marcel is well aware of the challenges involved in communicating sophisticated scientific principles to his audience and does so most successfully.”

– Dr. M.T. Auer, Professor, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and Fellow, Great Lakes Research Center at MTU

Teaching philosophy

I believe that the best way students can learn is in a positive environment where it is safe to ask questions and share insights. I create such an environment by having fun and showing students the beauty of how things are put together. I like to present my material as a “story” and take the students along on an adventure in which they discover the key teaching concepts for themselves. In this way I see myself more as a facilitator, providing the right conditions and materials to learn.

It is my goal to stimulate the development of critical thinking skills and problem-solving strategies as these are essential for success in the environmental engineering field. I use (leading) questions to stimulate students to think and will lead students to discover the answer for themselves.

It is my belief that all students can be motivated if appealed to their curiosity, it sometimes takes more effort to find what motivates a student and some may be smarter and learn faster than others. I feel however greatly rewarded if a student with a bad self-image suddenly finds out that he/she can grasp a difficult concept.

In developing class material I integrate experiences I have from my research projects, developing industrial parks and from my hobbies (especially sustainable energy projects).

I am a teacher that will ask students many questions and will give them time to think possible answers through. I really enjoy student teacher interaction in class and feel it helps the students to comprehend the topics I teach. I love to support my class lectures with current newspaper articles and video clips. This keeps the classes dynamic and links our class material to the “real” world.


“Marcel is an excellent instructor of K12 teachers and they specifically request him to present when they bring their students to outreach programs. Marcel has been an outstanding ambassador for the Great Lakes and has presented at many outreach events including “Learning how the Great Lakes are Studied by Scientists” during the Strawberry Festival in Chassell, MI and the “Celebrate Lake Superior Day” in Copper Harbor, MI.”

– Joan Chadde, Director Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach

Graduate Seminar September 24th 2018

BIG HEAT and BIG Chill: Impact on the Timing and Magnitude of Primary Production in Lake Superior

given at Michigan Technological University link to description

NGRREG Symposium

Introduction of Brittany Lutz at the NGRREG Symposium in St. Lois, MO where she presented her work on bioavailability of phosphorus in Lake Decatur, Il.

STEM Outreach: Safari on the Fox on April 23rd 2016

Demonstration of cleaning Fox River water to drinking water standards

Strawberry Festival Chassell MI.

Strawberry festival, Chassell Michigan 2016, link to TV6

Department of Engineering and Engineering Technology