Ecological Sciences & Engineering
Reducing our ecologic footprint

Katherine Touzinsky

Katherine Touzinsky Profile Picture
Home Department:
Forestry & Natural Resources

Mentor / Lab:
Reuben Goforth/Aquatic Ecology Laboratory

Specific Research Area / Project:
Understanding Asian Carp Success in Novel Ecosystems: A Comparison of Silver Carp Plasticity in Two River Systems

Undergraduate Institution:
Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH
Lab / Personal work-related websites:

Research Profile:

My past experiences have allowed me to view the field of science through a variety of lenses. I began my research career as an undergraduate researcher at Wittenberg University zoomed in at high power—around a power of 10 million, to be exact! With the help and guidance of an excellent advisor, I used electron microscopes to research the tissues of reptiles and amphibians and through that experience I was able to observe cellular structures that had never been seen before and quickly became enthralled with science. During my undergraduate education I also was a wildlife technician for the US Forest Service, and as opposed to intercellular research, our work was at the landscape level—integrating wildlife, recreation, and the economic value of a forest into a management strategy. For my graduate thesis I knew that I needed to find a research topic that would integrate both the micro and macro scale and in addition to building my laboratory and field research skills, I knew that I wanted my work to be applied and relevant to members of my community. Studying river ecology and the threat and expansion of invasive species within our rivers was a perfect fit. There are only a few ecological threats that are as integrated into mainstream knowledge as Asian carp, thanks to YouTube videos and millions of dollars spent in awareness and research. I am examining the success of Asian carps as they diverged from the population in the Mississippi to move through our Wabash River towards Lake Erie. My research aims to show whether or not they have adapted to the fast and variable flow of the Wabash through morphometry, size, or life history characteristics. If they have, we need to re-think our attitudes about where they could spread in the future.

In addition to researching Asian carp within the Forestry Department, the Ecological Sciences and Engineering program has played an integral part in my growth, success, and happiness. ESE encourages you to not only think outside the box, but to perhaps climb on top of it to get a better view. Through ESE colloquium, we tackled important and often uncomfortable questions about the important issues that we will face in our lifetimes—water resources, climate change, social justice, and the “efficiency trap”. All of these so-called “wicked” problems were discussed among my classmates who grew up around the world and were experts in a diverse range of subjects. In addition to classes, myself and other student chaired a committee of 12 dedicated students to organize the 2013 ESE symposium entitled “Capturing Resilience: the Bridge from Prosperity to Recovery.” We worked with the Purdue Office of Sustainability to invite speakers and attendees in academia, government, and industry from six regional cities, raised over 25K in donations, had over 300 registrants, and created a platform to spearhead the Mid America Prosperity and Security (MAPS) program. Chairing Capturing Resilience gave me a new confidence and a deep appreciation for the dynamics of teamwork and persistence. I think that without that background, academic challenge, and those friendships I had made, I would never have felt confident enough to apply for the NOAA Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy fellowship in Washington D.C., and I never would have found my most recent focus—national resilience. Currently, I am working with the US Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center to quantify the resilience of water resource infrastructure within our nations inland waterways, coasts, and ports. We are currently testing our quantification method in Mobile Bay, AL in conjunction with the Mississippi Alabama Sea Grant Consortium and local port and community stakeholders.

About Me:

An afternoon on a riverbank is relaxing, (and I had spent many afternoons on the riverbank throughout the course of my master’s research), but that same afternoon through the eyes of an urban city youth can be nothing short of wondrous. I have heard academics describe their ‘Aha!’ moments through making connections in the laboratory or through heated debates. My moment came at a riverside BioBlitz I had organized, surrounded by 25 splashing and screaming children from a local after school program for at-risk youth. That moment transformed my thinking about research, science, and people. Previous experiences working with the U.S. Forest Service and laboratory research had shaped my perspective of natural resources as something that is controlled and manipulated for the use value alone. However, a summer as a student intern for the Springfield Center for Civic and Urban Engagement shifted my perspective from seeing natural resources as something that is managed by people into something that should be managed for people. Science has always been about a search for translation of the world around us, and I realized that my reductionist tendencies were slightly misguided. My interest in science refocused on interpreting and improving situated knowledge of communities and decision makers in order to gain the most benefit from new research.

While many of the students that attended the BioBlitz confessed that my program was the first time they had been in “the woods,” I was blessed to have my first riverbank exposure early in life. As a young girl, I was an avid tournament angler. Success during my years of tournament fishing was fueled by my competitive nature and a strong connection to the aquatic environment. Throughout my college education, I continued to foster the interest in natural resources that stemmed from my intimate connections with nature as a young angler. Because of this experience, my approach to research is envisioned in terms of the ultimate end users—the public. In addition to focusing on improving public knowledge, I believe that end goals and deliverables should be a means of shaping research processes and that high emphasis should be centered on the impact of a scientific study.

That understanding led me to organize “Winning Back the Wabash” sponsored by the Purdue Sustainability Fund in conjunction with my Master’s project. My research brought me to local bowfishing tournaments in order to collect Asian carp samples and at each tournament I would teach the fisherman how to filet and fry Asian carp. Winning Back the Wabash was created in order to foster environmental stewardship and awareness about invasive species. Even if they didn’t enjoy the taste of carp, my goal was met through numerous conversations and exchange of ideas about how to work towards fixing the situation.

I have a passion for integrating science and the public. However, instead of the traditional aim of incorporating science into public policy, I am interested in switching the roles around. I want to have a part in weighing the needs of policy makers, fisheries professionals, natural resources managers, and the public, and incorporating those needs into the design and communication of scientific programs.


  • NOAA Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship (2014)
  • Purdue Student Sustainability Fund Grant (2013)
  • Purdue University Lynn Fellowship (2012/2013)
  • Emmet Bodenberg Award for Outstanding Achievement in Environmental Biology (2012)
  • Maxine and Edward Nichols Scholarship (2012)
  • Mortar Board Honors Society (inducted February 2011)
  • Beta Beta Beta Biology Honors Society (inducted May 2010)
  • Alpha Lambda Delta Women’s Honors Society (inducted March 2009)
  • USDA Certificate of Appreciation –for field season Summer 2010
  • Provost Scholarship, University Women Scholarship (2008)
  • Marine Technology Society Scholarship (2008)


  • Touzinsky, K. 2011. An Examination of Anthropogenic Effects on the Floridan Aquifer and Epigean Karst Features. Pholeos. 30:3-9
  • Gribbins K, Rheubert J, Touzinsky K, Granados-González G, Hernández Gallegos O. 2013. Ultrastructure of spermiogenesis in the Imbricate Alligator Lizard, Barisia imbricate (Reptilia, Squamata, Anguidae). Journal of Morphology. DOI: 10.1002/jmor.20117
  • Rheubert, J, Touzinsky, K, Hernández-Gallegos, O, Granados-González, G, Gribbins, K. 2012. Ontogenic development of spermatids during spermiogenesis in the high altitude Bunchgrass lizard, Sceloporus bicanthalis. Landes Bioscience: Spermiogenesis 2:1-10.
  • Gribbins, K, K Touzinsky, D Siegel, K Venable, G Hester, and R Elsey. 2011. Ultrastructure of the Spermatozoon of the American Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis (Reptilia, Crocodylia, Alligatoridae). Journal of Morphology. 272 (11): 1281-1289.
  • Rheubert J, Touzinsky K, Sever D, Aldridge R, Wilmes A, Siegel D, Gribbins K. 2013. Reproductive biology of Sceloporus consibrinus (Phrynosomatidae) I. Male germ cell development and Sceloporus reproductive cycles. Journal of Herpetology. In Print.


  • Touzinsky, K. Resilience: Clarified and Quantified in the US Army Corps of Engineers. November 2014. Restore America’s Estuaries 7th National Summit and 24th Biennial Meeting of The Coastal Society, National Harbor, MD.
  • Rees, C, McCalla, GS, Touzinsky, K, Coulter, A, Goforth, R, Amberg, J. August 2014. Using eDNA to better understand habitat use, movements, and spawning of Asian carps in the Wabash River, IN. American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting, Quebec City, PQ.
  • Touzinsky, K, Rheubert, J, Gribbins, K. April 2012. Ontogenic development of spermatids during spermiogenesis in the high altitude bunchgrass lizard, Sceoloporus bicanthalis. Butler University Undergraduate Research Conference, Indianapolis, IN.
  • Touzinsky, K, K Gribbins, J Rheubert. March 2012. Spermiogenesis and spermatid ultrastructure within the Imbricate Alligator Lizard, Barisia imbricata. National Conference of Undergraduate Research. Ogden, UT.
  • Touzinsky, K, K Venable, B Rubbico, C Sumner, G Hester, K Gribbins. May 2010. Ultrastructure of the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) Spermatozoon. Butler University Undergrad Research Conference. Indianapolis, IN.
  • Touzinsky, K, K Venable, K Gribbins. November 2010. The Spermatozoon of the American Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis: An Ultrastructural Study. Kentucky Academy of Science. Bowling Green, KY.


  • Knauss Marine Policy Fellow, Advisor and Assistant to the Technical Director of Civil Works R&D: US Army Corps of Engineers HQ, Washington DC. February 2014-Present.
  • Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Professional Development Committee, Washington, DC. February 2014-Present.
  • ESE IGP Capturing Resilience Summit Co-Chair: Purdue University, October 21-22nd 2013.
  • Winning Back the Wabash-- Cook 'em Up and Clean 'em Out, West Lafayette, IN. Summer 2013.
  • Peer-to-Peer Mentor: Ecological Science and Engineering IGP Colloquium—Sustainability, Resilience, and Human Impacts. Purdue University, Fall Semester 2013.
  • Teaching Assistant: Wildlife Techniques, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, Spring Semester 2013

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