What is this Slime in My Water? WWU's Institute for Watershed Studies

Robin Matthews

Director, Institute for Watershed Studies

Start Time & Date

Start Time & Date

> > > NOTE: This talk (and this talk only) will start at 4:45 pm -
All remaining Huxley Speaker events this Spring will begin at 4:30 pm < < <

The Institute for Watershed Studies (IWS) supports a variety of interdisciplinary projects that provide exciting opportunities for students engaged in watershed research. One example is the Lake Whatcom monitoring program, which was initiated >50 years ago and continues to provide long-term water quality data for Bellingham’s primary drinking water source.  A second example, the Northwest Lakes monitoring program, is a community service project started in 2001 that provides water quality data for 60-70 lakes in our region. These two projects were instrumental in Western Washington University being awarded the National President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction Award in 2013 and 2015. The Institute also helps students conduct studies of freshwater biota, with a growing emphasis on freshwater algae.  Blooms of potentially harmful blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) have increased in frequency and duration in freshwater lakes, causing lakes to be closed to fishing and other recreational activities.  The public funds available to test lakes for algal toxins are limited, so most testing is done in response to public complaints.  Fortunately, it is relatively easy to identify potentially toxic algal blooms, and many regulatory agencies are focusing on community engagement as a way to improve identification and tracking of toxic blooms.  IWS is working with the Cyanobacteria Monitoring Collaborative (http://cyanos.org) to help support citizen science algae monitoring across the US.  Locally, IWS offers workshops on algal identification, non-technical online keys and information pages (e.g., https://www.inaturalist.org/guides/6092),  and “drop-off” identification services for local citizens who what to know what kind of slime is in their lake.

Robin Matthews

Dr. Robin A. Matthews is the Director of the Institute for Watershed Studies and a Professor in Huxley College of Environmental Studies, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA.  Dr. Matthews received her academic training from Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Ph. D., 1981); Indiana University (M. S., 1978); and the University of California, Riverside (B. S., 1973). Dr. Matthews' research interests include freshwater ecology, algal taxonomy, and ecological data analysis.  Her current research programs focus on monitoring surface water quality in Whatcom County streams and lakes; identifying the impacts from agricultural and residential development on water quality; and developing keys to freshwater algae in Northwest Washington.  She teaches courses in biostatistics and freshwater algae, and supervises many student research and community outreach project.

More Information

The Huxley Environmental Speaker Series is hosted by Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University.

The Series is free and open to the public.

Location & Time

Presentations are held each Thursday at 4:30pm On-campus and ONLINE.


Due to the pandemic, the in-person presentations are not open to the public. However, the talks will be live-streamed ONLINE for the off-campus audience.


Location URL