NSF awards almost $1 million to WSU biologist

In an alternate universe, Tom Luhring’s interest in biology might have led him to a career in medicine, where he would be working indoors at a medical office or hospital.

“I am a first-gen student, so I thought if you liked biology, you have to be a medical doctor,” Luhring said. “It wasn’t until I started to take some classes that I saw that there were other career paths. When I took herpetology, I realized that I could work with frogs, salamanders, snakes and turtles — and actually do that for a living. That was the moment for me when I was finally passionate about doing something as opposed to just feeling like I have to make a living.”

That passion helped Luhring, assistant professor of biology, secure nearly $1 million from the National Science Foundation to study the effects of drying and warming on aquatic systems, such as lakes, rivers and streams, and how these changes impact the waterbodies themselves and the organisms that dwell within them.