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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Mary Kate E. Rinderle

Mary Kate E. Rinderle Mary Kate E. Rinderle

School of Environment and Natural Resources
Environmental Science - Water Science 
Columbus, OH 

2023 Distinguished Senior Award Recognition Reception Program (.pdf) 

2023 Distinguished Senior Award Recipient Reception Poster (.pdf) 

Internships provided Mary Kate Rinderle with some of her most valuable undergraduate learning experiences. Last summer with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources H2Ohio Program, MK learned the procedural and bureaucratic workings behind natural resource management. She gained exposure to the grant application and review process, something that will prove useful as she applies for funds in her future graduate research. By attending conferences, outreach events, and state agency meetings, she cultivated a professional network in the tight-knit water quality research community. As MK shared when reflecting on her career goals, “While my time at a state agency made me a more well-rounded scientist, research offers a hands-on pursuit of knowledge that reminds me of what I love most about the natural sciences.”

That same summer, MK had the opportunity to participate in an Undergraduate Research Fellowship at OSU’s Stone Laboratory on Lake Erie. There she conducted a limnologyfocused research experience under Dr. Justin Chaffin. Her work studied the effects of experimental scale on the response of various phytoplankton to limiting nutrients. MK sharpened her lab techniques, technical writing, and experimental design skills. Following her experience at Stone Lab, she joined Dr. Rachel Gabor’s hydrobiogeochemistry lab, where she assists with several ongoing graduate student research projects and heads her own independent project aiming to better understand the impact of plastic litter on carbon fluxes in natural systems. Her work in Dr. Gabor’s lab has illustrated to MK that aquatic ecology is inextricably linked to hydrochemistry.

Through her work as a Teaching Assistant for ENR 2100 – Introduction to Environmental Science, MK has learned to communicate feedback in a productive and encouraging way, a skill she hopes to apply in future graduate teaching assistance roles. As an SENR Ambassador, MK enjoyed connecting with younger students in her field, sharing stories, recommending experiences, and calming their fears as they embarked on their undergraduate careers. Above all, she felt rewarded by the opportunity to pass on all the sound advice she received throughout her undergraduate career. 

MK chose to recognize Drs. Justin Chaffin and Rachel Gabor as her mentors and shared the following: “Dr. Justin Chaffin has shaped the way that I approach research. His patience, vast knowledge, and eagerness to teach young scientists has prepared me for the next steps in my career. […] Dr. Gabor’s classes were the reason I decided to study water science in the first place. Her passion for the field and her ability to connect the subject matter to current day issues made me fall head-over-heels in love with water sciences. After joining her in her lab this past year, she’s also come to be a source of inspiration for me as a successful female scientist.”

Upon graduating this spring, MK will pursue graduate studies in water quality, hoping to contribute to the field’s understanding of the biological, chemical, and ecological factors influencing phytoplankton growth and distribution in environments impacted by human activity. 

Service, involvement, and accolades: SENR Ambassador | STEP Program

Mary Kate Rinderle - Press Release