Erin Mortenson, Laboratory Technician II
B.S., University of Wisconsin at River Falls: (Conservation/Environmental Science), 2001
Phone: (651) 433-5953 ext. 21
I joined the scientific team at the St. Croix Watershed Research Station in 2002 after undergraduate work in environmental science and mathematics. I spent many hours at the Science Museum of Minnesota as a youth, as we had a family membership as far back as I can remember. My parents still have a membership to this day. My very favorite space at the previous museum building was a room full of rocks and gemstones on display.
As the senior lab technician at the Research Station, I have had a lot of experience with the majority of our lab procedures over the years, but on a typical day, you’ll actually find me managing the Lead-210 dating lab. This is a very special lab for the Research Station and very unique in the world. In this lab, I take lake sediment cores, analyze sediment intervals along that core with the aid of the naturally occurring radioisotope, Lead-210, and determine and apply historic dates to the deposited layers going back about 150 years. There’s lots of history stored at the bottom of our lakes! You can look at a lake core as a sort of time capsule. This work is essential for almost everything we analyze and study at the Research Station from nutrient concentrations to diatom populations. Lead-210 dating results allow us to connect time with an environmental change or event.
I also love organizing, so it’s no surprise that I took on the logging and arrangement of our sediment core archive. Did you know that we have over 500 lake cores archived at our facility? And nearly all have come from our own research projects. We collect more and more cores every year. The lakes of Minnesota are especially well-represented here at the Research Station.
As for my free time, I represent the introverts well. I love to write and I love discovering books, new and old, at the library. I love public television and try not to miss any specials on quantum physics, which I find fascinating. I’m a devoted classic movie fan and music, from Prince to Puccini, is a constant in my life. I’m also a big tennis fan and was able to attend one exciting day at the French Open in Paris in 2009. Going to Wimbledon would be a dream.