Graduate students winners in annual USGS-WRC grant competition

Historically, the spring issue of Minnegram covered the research projects receiving grants from the USGS as administered by the Water Resources Center (WRC). This year, due to budget uncertainties from the sequestration, as well as feedback from faculty regarding the proposal process, the WRC focused on supporting students working on existing WRC grants. The awards cover the salary portion of a twelve month Graduate Research Assistantship (RA).

Three principal investigators (PIs) and their USGS-funded projects were chosen to receive the student grants.

Mae Davenport (FR, WRS faculty), “Building Sustainable Governance Framework to sustainably Manage Minnesota’s Water Resources.” The project will determine the variables that influence local watershed governance within the Cannon River watershed and develop an interactive model to explore how governance impacts both users and the hydrological system. The study will also provide input on conservation practice decision-making in the Red River Basin and will implement a landowner survey. The salary grant will fund a student working on a new follow-on project identifying drivers and constraints to the adoption of agricultural conservation practices through the previously developed survey tool. “The grant will enable us to manage the survey, conduct in-depth analysis and tailor the project recommendations to local stakeholders in study watershed districts and across the entire basin. We will also be able to host an interactive workshop where stakeholders can learn about project findings and begin to develop and prioritize action steps,” said Davenport.

Brandy Toner (SWC, WRS faculty) “Stratigraphic Distribution and Mineralogical Sources of Arsenic to Minnesota Glacial Aquifers.” Toner continues to work on the geological settings and geochemical processes that release arsenic to glacial aquifers in Minnesota. Arsenic is present in many wells across Minnesota and state regulators need to develop a better set of criteria for well drillers, and Toner’s research will contribute valuable information to this task. The salary award will fund a Ph.D. student as she completes her dissertation.

Karen Gran (Geology UMD, WRS faculty) will expand her WRRI-funded research “Predicting Erosional Hotspots in North Shore Streams from High-resolution Datasets.” Eight to ten additional watersheds will be studied using recent LiDAR data. Water Resources Science (WRS) graduate Molly Wick started the project, doing some hydrologic conditioning of aerial LiDAR data on a series of North Shore watersheds. The award will assist current WRS student Tiffany Sprague as she expands the LiDAR data into Duluth area watersheds.

Minnegram Spring 2014 AmityCreekStream power along Amity Creek in eastern Duluth,
calculated from a 1m lidar-derived DEM. Greens
indicate low stream power, while yellows and oranges
indicate high stream power. Stream power was calculated
as a function of upstream area and channel slope
and is one factor that goes into the erosion hotspot model.
Figure adapted from Wick, 2013