Fall 2017 Director's Corner

Unbelievably to me anyway, October is already here and that means that jeffthe Minnesota Water Resources Conference is just around the corner.  I am really excited about this year’s program.  Featured speakers will include Amy Skoczlas Cole, Director of American Public Media’s Water Initiative; Greg Page, retired Cargill Chairman and CEO; Michael Sadowsky, Professor of Soil, Water, and Climate at the University of Minnesota; and Nancy Schuldt, Water Projects Coordinator for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. A special session will explore the promise of new continuous living cover cropping systems to provide water quality and other ecological benefits. And, backed by popular demand, Water Bar returns to the conference this year, this time in an expanded format that captures themes from the conference and aims to connect attendees to the water stewardship traditions of the Dakota people. You can learn much more about the conference in a feature article in this issue, and you can register to attend on the conference website.

Autumn also means that the University campus is again bustling with students. As many Minnegram readers know, the WRC is the administrative home of the Water Resources Science (WRS) graduate program, which welcomed a select cohort of new students this fall.  Recently the WRC has expanded its support for the WRS program, using our unique set of connections to aid in students in their professional development. We’re hosting a series of professional development workshops and helping students develop professional networks at gatherings events like the Water Resources Conference. I hope you will see some of them there and get a chance to talk with them. Another way we are supporting the program is by sponsoring fellowship to an outstanding incoming WRS student. At the recommendation of the WRS Directors of Graduate Studies, we were pleased to award the inaugural WRC Graduate Student Fellowship to Kirsten Rhude. You can read more about the fellowship and Kirsten in our Community News section.

Recent months also brought changes and additions to the WRC staff. We are excited to welcome Lucy Levers as a new research associate. Lucy has an interdisciplinary background in environmental science and economics and specializes in integrated modeling. She earned her PhD from the University of California - Riverside and worked at the USDA-ARS Salinity Lab in Riverside before joining the WRC.  We also are excited to welcome Douglas Johnson as our new finance professional, a pivotal staff position to keep all our programs running smoothly.  Doug has a wealth of experience in finance roles at various units in the University of Minnesota. Lucy and Doug are also featured in Community News.

Our staff has been growing, but we are not done growing yet. We’re developing staffing plans to take on new projects, like a recent grant award from the Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems (INFEWS) program at the National Science Foundation. We’ll be looking forward to filling you in on these projects as they unfold in future issues.

 In this issue, you’ll find lots to read about recent activities and timely topics. A pair of feature articles by University of Minnesota Extension experts focus on the pressing issue of aquatic invasive species (AIS).  Dan Larkin discusses one of the most recently detected aquatic invasives, the algal species starry stonewort. Megan Weber describes the growing AIS Trackers Program in Minnesota, which contributes to a larger citizen science movement across the nation.

I hope to see you at the conference,