Ryan J Newton

Assistant Professor

School of Freshwater Sciences

office: 3041 GLRF

phone: (414) 382-1777

email: newtonr [at] uwm [dot] edu



BS 2002 University of Nebraska-Lincoln

PhD 2008 University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Research Overview

The core of my lab’s research program is based on interactions between aquatic ecosystem features and microbial communities.  Within this general framework, I am particularly interested in how human activity influences the genetic content, community distribution, and ecosystem-level output of microorganisms in both natural and built aquatic systems.  My scientific training has included microbial-based research in: 1) inland freshwaters examining the spatial and temporal distribution of bacteria in lakes around the world, 2) coastal oceans interrogating the gene expression of a model ocean bacterium and identifying the response of bacterial communities to ecosystem disturbance, and 3) built aquatic systems describing how human environmental inputs combine to create a unique ecosystem in urban pipes.  We are a small group right now, but are working hard to get the lab infrastructure in place.  My students and I are currently pursuing research that integrates microbial ecology at the interface between built and natural water systems.  We have active projects on the microbial gene patterns in the Laurentian Great Lakes, the microbial community influence on nitrification and fish health in urban aquaculture systems, and the impact of urban pipe communities on natural surface waters.


FRSHWTR 512 - Sequence Analysis (Fall 2017)

FRSHWTR 514 - Analytical Techniques in Freshwater Sciences (Spring All Years)

This course typically runs in the spring and is taught with Dr. Laodong Guo.  Students learn both basic analytical/geochemical techniques and nucleic acid/genomic principles and methods in a combination lecture and hands-on laboratory environment.  Techniques examined include quantifying major aquatic nutrients (carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus), ionic chromatography, atomic absorption, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, isotope analysis, gas chromatography mass spectrometry, sterile technique, cell disruption, nucleic acid extraction, nucleic acid hybridization and amplification, and massively parallel sequencing. 

FRSHWTR 564 – Water Quality in Aquaculture (Spring All Years)

This course typically runs in the spring is a blended course (1/2 online and 1/2 in laboratory) and is part of the School’s Undergraduate Certificate in Applied Urban Aquaculture. Students will learn fundamental knowledge about how water properties and the microbiome of aquaculture systems impact operations and contribute to fish health and how operator controls can alter these dynamics.

FRSHWTR 690/901 - The Zen of Water & Beer (Spring 2018)

This course typically runs in the fall.  It is a seminar based course that allows students to interact with local professionals in the brewing industry.  Students will visit local brewing facilities ranging from one-room 0.5 barrel production operations to global businesses to discuss the procedures, environmental constraints, and business of brewing. 

Past Courses

FRSHWTR 512 – Practicum: Developing Technologies for Aquatic Sciences (Spring 2015, 2016)

This course typically runs in the spring. The primary instructor is Dr. Matthew Smith. Students work in groups to research, propose, and then develop a technology for use in the aquatic sciences. Technology development can include a range of projects from instrumentation to molecular biotechnology.

FRSHWTR 650 – Intro to Aquatic Genomic Methods (summer 2016)

This is a blended course designed as both a credit-based course and as a workshop for non-students. Participants/students in the course will learn about proper lab techniques for collecting a processing water samples for DNA extractions, PCR, qPCR, microbial community composition analysis, and genomics. The class is offered with a 1-week intensive lab component and 4 weeks of online content.


See the Lab’s Publications page or check out my Google Scholar profile.