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The Aquatic Ecology Laboratory is located in the Research Center on OSU's west campus in Columbus.  The space includes faculty, staff, and student offices, as well as small-group meeting space, laboratory space, outdoor experimental pools, and boat and equipment storage.

See below for a more detailed look at the AEL facilities.

The AEL has five separate laboratory spaces totaling over 3000 square feet. In addition, there is ample freezer storage space, including a walk-in fridge and freezer, and multiple conventional chest freezers and -80 freezers.

The Dry Lab

The dry lab, Area 400, is a 1200+ square foot multipurpose laboratory area that has historically been the data-gathering heart of the AEL. In 2019-2020 the dry lab underwent a massive renovation that created improved workspaces. Primary activities in the dry lab include otolith processing, fish sample processing, calorimetry, and general data processing.

Dry lab equipment:

  • Bomb calorimeters
  • Laminar flow hood
  • Muffle furnace
  • Drying Ovens
  • Otolith polishers 
  • Compound microscopes and imaging software
  • Dissecting microscopes and imaging software
  • Computer workstations

The Microscopy Lab (i.e. room 517)

Room 517 was renovated from a storage space to a wonderful new lab in 2019. The primary focus of this space is the use of dissecting microscopes for plankton identification and enumeration. This room is equipped with ample storage for samples and laboratory equipment, as well as a chemical fume hood.

The Hood Lab (i.e. rooms 511 & 513)

Dr. Jim Hood's lab spaces are focused on nutrient analysis and spectrophotometry. Room 513 is equipped with a fume hood and laminar flow hood, a spectrophotometer, and water filtration equipment. Room 511 is equipped with a Milli-Q system and various nutrient analyzers.

Room 518

The AEL's most recently renovated space, room 518 was once primarily used to store field gear and other equipment. Around 2015 we began using it for laboratory space, and in 2021-2023 it was renovated into a beautiful, open lab space that will be used for future research projects. It is equipped with two chemical fume hoods, a biosafety cabinet, and benchtop fume snorkel. 

Freezer Storage (i.e. room 515)

The freezer storage room is equipped with five -80°C freezers, two -20°C chest freezers, a large walk-in refrigerator room, and a walk-in -40°C freezer room.

This 2700+ square foot flexible laboratory space has been home to experiments involving a variety of taxa from Lake Erie walleye to African cichlids to tadpoles and dragonfly larvae. The lab contains three, updated walk-in environmental chambers, three large aquarium rooms, and a central open space for larger tanks. The space is equipped with a monitored dechlorinated water supply and a low-pressure air supply to ensure optimum conditions for all tanks. Owing to the flexible setup, the wet lab can be rearranged to accommodate the needs of any new experiment that the lab takes on. The wet lab also contains ample space for sample processing as well as a large fume hood.

Wet lab with tanks

The AEL maintains an outdoor pool facility near our main research building. Within a tree-shaded, secure enclosure, 52 experimental pools (2500 liters each) are available for extensive replicate experiments with fish and other aquatic organisms. The pools have a monitored dechlorinated water supply, low-pressure air supply, and the ability to add heaters to maintain optimum conditions.

Large blue fish holding tanks among trees


AEL students and researchers have access to a fleet of boats, including:

  • R/V Carmen, AEL's dedicated Great Lakes research vessel: 10.4-m custom-built aluminum boat equipped with two 220hp I/O engines, trawling winches, two davits, state-of-the-art electronics, and sleeping quarters
  • Two 6-m all-welded, aluminum, electrofishing boats equipped with 50 and 60 HP outboards and Midwest electrofishing units
  • Two 6-m all-welded aluminum general purpose boats equipped with 75 HP outboards
  • One 8.4-m all-welded aluminum general purpose/trawler equipped with a 340 HP inboard jet-drive engine
AEL boat barn with 5 aluminum welded general boats on trailers



The AEL is also happy to have a dedicated boat captain, Neal Banaszak (banaszak.3@osu.edu). Please contact Neal if you have any vessel-related questions.

The Aquatic Ecology Lab maintains a fleet of 5-6 vehicles for field use and laboratory support. At present, our fleet is composed of 4 trucks and 2 SUVs:

  • Ford Escape Hybrid, 2006
  • Ford F-250, 2002, 2008, & 2015
  • Ford F-150, 2000
  • Dodge Durango, 2012