Summer 2014 Community News

Jake Bailey (Earth Sciences, WRS faculty) received a Sloan Research Fellowship, recognizing his research in geobiology. Bailey investigates the interaction of microbes and minerals in oceanic and terrestrial environments, in part to understand the co-evolution of life and lithosphere (rocks and minerals) throughout geologic time. His research involves the use of molecular biology techniques and morphological analysis of modern and ancient microbes to understand the co-evolution of biological and geochemical systems, such may occur in the generation of phosphorous deposits. Bailey also spent March 2014 in Namibia teaching at the University of Namibia's first research discovery camp in oceanography:

John Bilotta (WRC, Sea Grant) presented two papers at the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals bi-annual conference in Sacramento CA May 18-22, 2014. He also presented the Watershed Game curriculum and resource and his work in Multiple Approaches to NEMO Program. Bilotta conducted research as part of the NOAA Teacher-at-Sea Program June 17-29, 2014. His work will include remotely operated vehicles and multibeam sonar surveys inside and outside five marine protected areas (MPAs) in the south Atlantic to assess the efficacy of this management tool to protect and help manage fisheries on the continental shelf edge of the South Atlantic Bight between Port Canaveral, FL and Cape Hatteras, NC. Follow Bilotta’s research here.

Sara Heger (OSTP, WRC) authored the Milk House Improvement Estimator User’s Guide with funding provided by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. The Minnesota State Soil and Water Conservation (BWSR) Agency administers programs that prevent sediment and nutrients from entering our lakes, rivers, and streams; enhance fish and wildlife habitat; and protect wetlands. As part of its reporting duties, BWSR submits data about pollutant load removal and there was previously no standardized approach to reporting these results as required by the legislature. Therefore the Milk House Wastewater Improvement Estimator (MWIE) was developed. It is a spreadsheet-based model that calculates annual pollutant loads from problematic milk house wastewater systems and accounts for the benefits of a range of milk house wastewater improvements. This tool is intended for use on projects where the producers cannot add the milk house wastewater to liquid manure storage. The Guide provides an introduction to the MWIE, as well as tips and instructions for using it. The Milk House Improvement Estimator Excel file can be downloaded at It can be modified to fit different regulatory requirements and systems across the US.

David Mulla (SWC, WRS faculty) was honored with the Applied Soil Science Research Award at the Annual Meeting of the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) in Tampa, FL, November 3-6, 2013.The award recognized his pioneering research in water quality and precision agriculture, and is given to only one person in the world each year. Mulla is the first scientist from Minnesota to win this award. Mulla was also appointed to a National Academy of Sciences committee to evaluate water quality monitoring and interstate collaboration with respect to hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. The committee organized a workshop held in St. Louis, MO where representatives of federal and state government agencies, research scientists, private companies, and non-governmental organizations discussed 1) current scientific understanding of water quality conditions, 2) scientific uncertainties, relevant issues of time and scale, and priority areas for future water quality monitoring and evaluation, 3) ongoing programs for nutrient management and downstream water quality implications, and 4) institutional frameworks for future water quality evaluation. A report summarizing these findings was published in early 2014 by the National Academy of Sciences.

The McKnight Foundation is funding the development of a web-based Rural Stream Handbook that will be prepared by a team organized by the Water Resources Center. The handbook will assist local conservation staff to describe to landowners how streams and rivers respond to increased flows, and what land and water management practices are available to manage flows. More than half of the sediment leaving the Minnesota River Basin and some other upper Midwest rivers is from streambanks, bluffs, and ravines, primarily during increasingly high flows. The handbook development team includes hydrology, engineering, agronomy, and outreach specialists from the UM, MSU-Mankato, I&S Group, the Pollution Control Agency, and four Soil and Water Conservation Districts. For more information contact Les Everett,, or Ann Lewandowski, at the WRC.

Daniel Wheeler (SWC, OSTP staff) received CFANS Distinguished Teaching Award for undergraduate faculty in a non-tenured position. Wheeler was nominated for the award by Edward Nater, with letters of support from colleagues and students.