Spring 2015 Community News

Call for Abstracts for 2015 Minnesota Water Resources Conference: Deadline Friday May 8.

Jim Anderson (former WRC co-director) was awarded a lifetime achievement award from the Minnesota Onsite Wastewater Association (MOWA) at their January 2015 meeting. The award recognizes individuals whose careers in the field of onsite wastewater treatment are exemplary, with outstanding service, dedication and accomplishment for MOWA. Anderson (pictured center) began conducting research and providing education on septic systems in 1971. He and Roger Machmeier started the Onsite Sewage Treatment Program (OSTP) at the University of Minnesota resulting in one of the best education and certification programs in the US. Anderson's soils expertise, combined with Machmeier's engineering knowledge created a program which trains septic system installers, designers, inspectors and service providers. Anderson also helped develop and update Minnesota Rules during over 30 years as chair of the Septic System Advisory Committee. Presenting the award, OSTP's Sara Heger said: "Jim's example taught the septic industry three important things: the value of getting your hands dirty, the value of belonging to a state association and the impact that one person can make."

Les Everett and Ann Lewandowski (WRC) received a grant from the McKnight Foundation to train staff of three Minnesota watersheds on use of the Ag Conservation Prioritization Framework (ACPF) and evaluate the feasibility and usefulness of employing the ACPF in working with landowners to select and implement conservation practices. The ACPF was developed by Mark Tomer's group at the USDA Agricultural Research Service lab in Ames, Iowa. It uses GIS data layers, including LiDAR digital elevation, to map the most effective locations for specific types of conservation practices to reduce nutrient and sediment loads. Results of the evaluation will be used to guide adjustments to the ACPF and develop training materials for its use. A description of the ACPF was published in a 2013 article in the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation.

John Gulliver (WRS faculty, CE) moderated and organized the session "Current and Unfolding LID and Stormwater BMP Research at the University of Minnesota," for the Minnesota Water Resources Conference, St. Paul, MN, October 14-15, 2014.

Tom Johnson (WRS faculty, LLO) recently completed a research cruise on Lake Malawi, East Africa, bringing to an end a four-year program by LLO scientists of monitoring the temperature and seasonal variability of settling sediment, plankton, and other organic matter in that great lake of the East African Rift Valley. Lake Malawi is undergoing change as a result of global climate change and major expansion of agriculture in its drainage basin. LLO scientists are providing valuable baseline information to the Malawi government on the current state of the lake. Johnson also gave an invited plenary address, "A progressively wetter climate in Southern East Africa over the past million years," at the annual meeting of the African Quaternary Association in Cape Town, South Africa, in early February 2015.

Carlie LaLone (Post/Doctoral Associate, WRC) and a team of EPA researchers were recognized by Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy for developing a software application to inform the use of pathway-based biological data to predict the potential effects of chemicals in a wide range of animal species. This computational tool, titled Sequence Alignment to Predict across Species Susceptibility (SeqAPASS), facilitates rapid and quantitative assessment of the similarities of specific proteins across thousands of species. The research team also includes Gerald Ankley and Daniel L. Villeneuve.

The Large Lakes Observatory
(LLO) hosted a forum which explored ideas for improving Limnology graduate courses. Recent turnover in faculty at LLO has spurred development of a new graduate curriculum beginning fall of 2016. Discussions focused in part on the diverse needs of students, making the program more enticing, innovative, and inter-disciplinary. Further discussion and interest to pursue a National Science Foundation grant to support extra workshop options will take place at the upcoming WRS Water Resources Science Retreat on March 21-22, 2015.