Minnegram Spring 2021

Director's Corner

A message from Water Resources Center Director Jeff Peterson


Former WRC co-director Deb Swackhamer leaves a clear vision of Minnesota's water future

Former Water Resources Center director Deb Swackhamer passed away on April 23, 2021, the day following Earth day. As someone who dedicated her life to protecting water and the environment, the timing of her death was a bittersweet coincidence. Deb was a highly decorated and respected water researcher, specializing in studying processes affecting the behavior of chemicals in the environment.

Enhancing habitat and diversity in cattail-dominated lake shorelines across Minnesota
by Amy Schrank

Nearshore aquatic plants are an important source of biodiversity in Minnesota lakes and are critical to fish communities, including important game species such as walleye, bass, pike, and sunfish, and forage fishes such as minnows and other small species essential to fish diets. Fishes using nearshore, vegetated habitat usually prefer a combination of plant forms including emergent plants such as bulrushes, floating-leaved species such as water lily, and submerged plants such as wild celery and pondweeds. This variety of plant types provides suitable substrate for fish spawning, shelter for larval and juvenile fishes to hide from predators, and habitat and food sources for other animals such as aquatic insects and crayfish that young fish depend on for food.

WRC’s  Watershed Innovations Grant Program creates opportunities for collaboration, innovation

The WRC has launched the Watershed Innovations (WINS) Grant Program. WINS develops project portfolios which fund innovative research of water resource concerns in Minnesota. WINS is also designed to assist U of M researchers in collaborative work at the intersection of multiple disciplines, educate graduate students and other early-career scientists, and sustain research efforts through other sources.

Machine Learning Workshops provide accessible tools for Water Resource Sciences Applications
by Xiang Li, PhD graduate student, Water Resource Sciences and John Nieber, Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, WRS co-DGS 

AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning exploit data with an intention to leverage as much information as possible to understand a system. Data driven approaches, especially neural network families, have been implemented broadly in interdisciplinary efforts between computer scientists and domain scientists to develop relevant machine learning algorithms and to test their ability to advance scientific knowledge.

Compost and soil organic matter: The more, merrier?
by Anne Sawyer, Extension educator for watershed education
reposted from U of M Extension

Organic materials, such as compost, plant residues or manure, do wonders for garden soil and plant health. If you’ve been adding organic materials to your garden, then congratulations! You’ve been doing great work to build soil organic matter and promote soil health. Now, let’s take it one step further to ensure that your beautiful soil organic matter remains a benefit and not a liability to plants or to the environment. After all, it is possible to have too much of a good thing — even soil organic matter. But first, let’s look at what makes soil organic matter so important.


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