Ranhofer

Melissa Ranhofer

Visiting Assistant Professor, Earth, Environmental and Sustainability Sciences

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Dr. Melissa Ranhofer is a marine scientist and award winning educator. She studies the community dynamics of phytoplankton, the cycling of nutrients, and the threats posed by invasive aquatic species in Upstate South Carolina. Dr. Ranhofer came to Furman in 2009 upon completion of her Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. Trained in the fields of geology, environmental science, and marine science her diverse scientific background allows her to approach teaching from many different perspectives.
Dr. Ranhofer’s courses are designed to prepare students to apply critical thinking and reasoning skills to diverse challenges in the real world. Her teaching philosophy focuses on engaged learning; providing students with a sound background in earth and environmental sciences and the dynamic interactions between nature and society so they can better understand the condition of the Earth.
Dr. Ranhofer is the educational outreach liaison and the moderator for the EES Department's Facebook page (www.facebook.com/EESDepartment). She is a member of the Carolina Geological Society.

Honors

  • 2017 - Outstanding Undergraduate Evening Studies Faculty Award;
  • 2009 - Center for Teaching Excellence: Preparing Future Faculty Award;
  • 2007 - The F. John Vernberg Teaching Assistant Award

Education

  • Ph.D., University of South Carolina, Columbia
  • M.S.. University of South Carolina, Columbia
  • B.S., University of South Carolina, Columbia

Research Interests

Dr. Ranhofer’s current research is a blend of both laboratory and fieldwork and focuses on the distribution, abundance, and ecological impact of the invasive Asian clam, Corbicula fluminea. She is particularly interested in utilizing bivalves as a bioremediation tool for improving water quality in eutrophic systems by reducing nutrient concentrations and controlling phytoplankton blooms. The addition of excess nutrients to an ecosystem can have devastating effects on water quality, including eutrophication, toxic phytoplankton blooms, shifts in food webs, fish kills, and periods of hypoxia/anoxia. When phytoplankton die, their decomposition reduces dissolved oxygen (DO) availability in the water; in some cases causing hypoxic (DO < 2-3 ppm) or anoxic (DO < 2ppm) conditions. Benthic suspension-feeding bivalves (such as the C. fluminea) act as natural water cleaners by filtering out plankton and other particulate matter from the water. This ability benefits the ecosystem by reducing turbidity, preventing unwanted algal blooms, and sequestering nutrients by burial of nitrogen and phosphorous in the form of biodeposits.

Publications
JOURNAL PUBLICATIONS

  • Ranhofer, M.L., E. Lawrenz, J.L. Pinckney, C.R. Benitez-Nelson and T.L. Richardson. (2009). Utilization of dissolved organic phosphorus by summer phytoplankton communities in Winyah Bay, South Carolina, U. S. A. Estuaries and Coasts 32:943-957.
  • Lawrenz, E., J.L. Pickney, M.L. Ranhofer, H.L. MacIntyre and T.L. Richardson. (2010). Spectral Irradiance and Phytoplankton Community Composition in a Blackwater-Dominated Estuary, Winyah Bay, South Carolina, USA. Estuaries and Coasts 33:1186-1201.;

    PUBLISHED ABSTRACTS

  • 2007 “Utilization of Dissolved Organic Phosphorus (DOP) by phytoplankton in Winyah Bay, South Carolina.” Baruch Institute Symposium Abstracts.
  • 2006 “Distribution, Fluxes and Potential Sources of Sinking Particulate Phosphorus in the Cariaco Basin, Venezuela.” ASLO Summer 2006 Meeting Abstracts.
  • 2003 “Characterization of phosphorus in sinking particles in Cariaco Basin, Venezuela." A.G.U. Fall 2003 Abstracts.
  • 2001 “A Comparison of Total Suspended Matter Fluctuations over an Eight-Hour Cruise and Two Thirty-hour Time Series Experiments, Winyah Bay Estuary, South Carolina.” S.E.E.R.S. Spring 2001 Abstracts.
  • “Evidence for Phosphorus Limitation in the Winyah Bay Estuary, Georgetown, South Carolina." S.E.E.R.S. Spring 2001 Abstracts.
  • 2000 “A Study of Surface Sediment Geochemistry and Fluctuations of Total Suspended Matter Over a Thirty-Hour Time Series Experiment, Winyah Bay, South Carolina.” S.E.E.R.S. Fall 2000 Abstracts.
  • “The Study of Water Chemistry to Measure the Effects of Point and Non-Point Pollution in Winyah Bay, South Carolina.” S.E.E.R.S. Fall 2000 Abstracts.
  • “The Geochemical Properties of Surface Sediments in Winyah Bay, South Carolina.” A.G.U. Spring 2000 Abstracts.
  • “ADCP Measurement of Flow Throughout a Tidal Cycle in the Winyah Bay Estuary of South Carolina, USA” A.G.U. Fall 2000 Abstracts.

Presentations

  • “Utilization of Dissolved Organic Phosphorus (DOP) by phytoplankton in Winyah Bay, South Carolina.” 2007, Baruch Institute Symposium, Hobcaw Barony, Georgetown, SC. (Oral Presentation)
  • “Distribution, Fluxes and Potential Sources of Sinking Particulate Phosphorus in the Cariaco Basin, Venezuela.” 2006, ASLO Summer Meeting, Victoria, Canada. (Oral presentation)
  • “Characterization of phosphorus in sinking particles in Cariaco Basin, Venezuela.” 2003 A.G.U. Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA. (Poster Presentation)
  • “Marine Aquatic Research Experience (M.A.R.E.), a student driven research program,” 2001, 2002 University of South Carolina Showcase, Columbia, SC. (Oral Presentation)
  • “Marine Aquatic Research Experience (M.A.R.E.): "Under the Estuary: Connecting the Land and the Ocean"” The South Carolina Academy of Sciences USC Bicentennial Midlands MESA Fall Workshop-Grades 4-8, Columbia, SC. (Oral Presentation)
  • “A Comparison of Total Suspended Matter Fluctuations over an Eight-Hour Cruise and Two Thirty-hour Time Series Experiments, Winyah Bay Estuary, South Carolina.” 2001 Spring S.E.E.R.S. Meeting, Charleston, S.C. (Poster Presentation)
  • “A Study of Surface Sediment Geochemistry and Fluctuations of Total Suspended Matter Over a Thirty-Hour Time Series Experiment, Winyah Bay, South Carolina.” 2000 Fall S.E.E.R.S. Meeting, Tampa, F.L. (Poster Presentation)
  • “The Geochemical Properties of Surface Sediments in Winyah Bay, South Carolina.” 2000 A.G.U. Spring Conference, Washington D.C. (Poster Presentation).

Additional Professional Activities

Community Outreach - Guest Lectures

  • 2019 - ““The Power Within: Using Phytoplankton as an Alternative to Terrestrially Sourced Biofuels.”,” Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), Furman University, Greenville, SC
  • 2017 - Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic School (4th-8th grades), Greenville, SC
    Science Fair Judge
  • 2017 - St. Joseph's Catholic School (11th & 12th grades), Mauldin, SC,“Research in Aquatic Sciences”
  • 2016 - Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic School (6th grade), Greenville, SC “Applying the Scientific Method”
  • 2014, 2015, 2018 - Greer Middle School (8th grade), Greer, SC; “How Fossils are formed”
  • 2013 - Greer Middle School (8th grade), Greer, SC “The Earth’s Interior and Processes”
  • 2013 Furman University, Dr. Farris’s Adaption and Resilience class “Estuarine Ecology – An introduction to Winyah Bay, SC” – Included a 3 day trip to Winyah Bay, SC and hand-on field experience in Marine Science
  • 2012 “Using Geology in the Field of Marine Science,” Clemson University, Clemson, SC
  • 2011 “Rock and Mineral Resources of South Carolina,” Greer Middle School, Greer, SC
  • “Life After the Bubble - A Student's Guide for Applying to Grad School and Jobs,” Furman University, Greenville, SC
  • “The Wonders of Phytoplankton,” Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), Furman University, Greenville, SC
  • 2010 “The Earth’s Biomes and Resources,” Greer Middle School, Greer, SC
    “Environmental Hazards & the Geology of South Carolina,” Sterling School, Greenville, SC
  • 2009-10 “The Awesome Power of Phytoplankton,” The University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.