Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer

Associate Director of Darrin Fresh Water Institute (DFWI)


Dr. Nierzwicki-Bauer received her Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of New Hampshire in 1983, where her doctoral work involved the development and utilization of electron microscopy techniques to examine the ultrastructure of cyanobacteria. Dr. Nierzwicki-Bauer then pursued post-doctoral research with Dr. Robert Haselkorn at the University of Chicago, where she focused on molecular studies of free-living cyanobacteria and symbiotic cyanobacteria in the Azolla-Anabaena symbiosis. Dr. Nierzwicki-Bauer received a NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship to carry out these studies. Dr. Nierzwicki-Bauer joined the faculty of the Department of Biological Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as an Assistant Professor in August of 1985. During her tenure at Rensselaer, she has served as Biology Department Head, Interim Dean of Science and the Director of the Darrin Fresh Water Institute. Currently, Dr. Nierzwicki-Bauer is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Associate Director of the Darrin Fresh Water Institute.

Education & Training

Ph.D. University of New Hampshire, 1983 - Microbiology

B.S. University of New Hampshire, 1979 - Microbiology

Postdoctoral Research & Training

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Chicago, 1984-1985 - Molecular Biology

Other affililations: Information Technology and Web Science


Dr. Nierzwicki-Bauer is internationally known for her research on molecular studies of microbial communities in lakes and rivers, studies of invasive species and expertise in water resource management.  Nierzwicki-Bauer, together with colleagues, pioneered the development and application of molecular approaches for tracking, detecting and quantifying invertebrate larvae including zebra and quagga mussels. For over twenty years she has carried out applied studies that deal with management of aquatic invasives once they have been introduced into freshwater bodies, as well as proactive monitoring/detection strategies to help prevent colonization. Recently, Nierzwicki-Bauer together with an international team of collaborators are developing genetic tools for free-living and symbiotic cyanobacteria.

The Nierzwicki-Bauer lab focuses on three distinct areas of research: 

(1) Molecular studies of microbial and picoeukaryote communities in lakes and rivers. 

The biodiversity of freshwater microbial and picoeukaryotes is still understudied (compared with marine environments) with many more organisms to be discovered. We are using molecular approaches, as well as more traditional culturing and microscopic methodologies to elucidate the structure and function of community composition in Adirondack lakes, some of which have been impacted by acid rain or other pollutants. 

(2) Basic and applied studies of invasive species (zebra mussels). 

Zebra mussels are an invasive species that have significant economic and ecological impacts. We are carrying out basic studies on zebra mussels which include; development of molecular probes for their early detection and bioassays for gaining a better understanding of chemical and physical factors that influence or can predict their survival. We are carrying out applied studies that deal with management of zebra mussels once they have been introduced into freshwater bodies, as well as proactive monitoring/detection strategies to help prevent colonization. 

(3) Water resource management and environmental remote sensing. 

We are using a combination of traditional and advanced techniques to study human impacts on water resources. The approaches that we are utilizing include automated water chemistry profiling systems, side-scan sonar, satellite remote sensing, solar powered autonomous underwater vehicles (SAUV’s) and hydroacoutics, to name a few.

Primary Research Focus
Limnology, Symbiosis, Invasive Species
Other Focus Areas

Environmental remote sensing, Invasive species, Water resource management


Office Hours

By appointment

Current Courses

BIOL 1010 - Introduction to Biology

Introduction to biological systems. Discussion of problems associated with biological organization, scaling, and hierarchy. Major topics covered include evolution, genetics and medicine, and ecology. The course considers the biological components of various environmental, social, and individual problems. Course is taught using both traditional and research-based pedagogical methods.


The following is a selection of recent publications in Scopus. Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer has 63 indexed publications in the subjects of Environmental Science, Immunology and Microbiology, Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology.

M. W. Swinton, P. K. Myer, M. F. Schaller, E. A. Pettitt, J. L. Farrell, S. A. Nierzwicki-Bauer
, 31
, 2022
, pp.808-821
Mark W. Swinton, Sandra A. Nierzwicki-Bauer
, 29
, 2020
, pp.1750-1761
William D. Hintz, Matthew S. Schuler, Jonathan J. Borrelli, Lawrence W. Eichler, Aaron B. Stoler, Vincent W. Moriarty, Laurie E. Ahrens, Charles W. Boylen, Sandra A. Nierzwicki-Bauer, Rick A. Relyea
Limnology and Oceanography
, 65
, 2020
, pp.927-938
Krystyna M. Kornecki, Matthew S. Schuler, Miraim E. Katz, Rick A. Relyea, Francine M.G. McCarthy, Morgan F. Schaller, David P. Gillikin, J. Curt Stager, Chuck W. Boylen, Lawrence W. Eichler, Sandra A. Nierzwicki-Bauer
Journal of Foraminiferal Research
, 50
, 2020
, pp.128-140
Susan M. Barns, Sandra A. Nierzwicki-Bauer
Geomicrobiology: Interactions Between Microbes and Minerals
, 2019
, pp.35-80
Toby M. Michelena, Charles W. Boylen, Sandra A. Nierzwicki-Bauer
International Journal of River Basin Management
, 17
, 2019
, pp.403-410
Jeremy L. Farrell, Clifford A. Siegfried, Robert A. Daniels, James W. Sutherland, Charles W. Boylen, Jay A. Bloomfield, Scott O. Quinn, Sandra A. Nierzwicki-Bauer
, 65
, 2017
, pp.38-45
Mark W. Swinton, Lawrence W. Eichler, Sandra A. Nierzwicki-Bauer, Jeremy L. Farrell, James W. Sutherland, Michael R. Kelly, Charles W. Boylen
Hydrology Research
, 48
, 2017
, pp.177-190
Toby M. Michelena, Jeremy L. Farrell, David A. Winkler, Christine A. Goodrich, Charles W. Boylen, James W. Sutherland, Sandra A. Nierzwicki-Bauer
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
, 188
, 2016
Bianca M. Wentzell, Charles W. Boylen, Sandra A. Nierzwicki-Bauer
Ecological Indicators
, 67
, 2016
, pp.283-291

View All Scopus Publications


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