Caren has always had a deep appreciation for lakes, growing up in Michigan where every summer activity revolved around lakes. Two summer field positions in Alaska (Redoubt Lake near Sitka, then the Toolik Lake Field Station) during her Bachelor’s degree (University of Michigan) further strengthened her love for lakes and convinced her that she could make a career out of studying lakes: she became a limnologist. Throughout her undergraduate and graduate career, Caren conducted field research in lakes across the continent, including temperate and boreal forests, grasslands and tundra and alpine biomes. She primarily focused on the base of the food web, studying the effects of environmental drivers on algae. Her Master’s research, at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, focused on the effects of ultraviolet radiation on phytoplankton community structure, while her PhD research, at the University of Toronto, focused on the effects of light, disturbance and sediment type on benthic algal primary production. With this empirical background, Caren shifted gears for her post-doctoral research studying water quality in 10,000 lakes across a 17 state region in the northeastern U.S.