Spring 2020 Community News

WRC Director Jeffrey Peterson was elected to serve on the UCOWR Board of Directors for a three year term beginning July 1, 2020. "Being on the board will give me a voice in shaping the future direction of UCOWR and my specific goals are to increase participation from currently underrepresented regions and disciplines while continuing to build UCOWR's partnership with NIWR," said Peterson.

Taylor Becker Joined the Extension Water Resources Team March 30, 2020 as an educator based in the St. Cloud regional office. Becker will work with the water team and partners at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to reduce the impacts of nitrogen fertilizer use on groundwater. In particular Becker will help communities in the area understand how UMN research can inform Implementation of the Groundwater Protection Rule and Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan. Becker recently received her MS in Horticulture and Agronomy from University of California - Davis, with a BS in Biochemistry from Miami University in Ohio.  Becker’s master's work focused on using proximal sensing devices, including a drone mounted with a multi-spectral camera, to differentiate between nitrogen and water stress in irrigated corn. During her time at UC Davis, she also completed a project estimating water use in the form of evapotranspiration using a canopy temperature-based metric and a soil water balance method to better explain the relationship between water use and nitrogen uptake in corn.

Lucy Levers (WRC) was awarded a grant from the Office of Academic Clinical Affairs BOLD Ideas. Lever’s project is Obesity Mapping with state-issued Identification cards. Lever’s collaborators on the project are Ann Zukoski and Jacob Walker-Swaney from the MDH Evaluation and Surveillance Unit, Office of Statewide Health Improvement Initiatives, and Peter Wiringa at U-Spatial.

Amy Schrank joined the Water Resources Center office March 4, 2020 as a Sea Grant Fisheries and Aquaculture Extension Educator. In a partnership between WRC and the Sea Grant program, Shrank will be a Sea Grant educator located in the WRC’s St. Paul office. Schrank has a PhD in zoology and physiology from the University of Wyoming where she investigated movement patterns of inland trout as influenced by spawning, summer feeding and water quality conditions. Her M.S. degree is in resource ecology and management of aquatic ecosystems from the University of Michigan, with a B.S. degree in biology and Spanish from the University of Michigan. Schrank is an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota.

Tiffany Sprague (WRS 2019) has been hired in a new joint position developed by the Natural Resources Research Institute and Minnesota Sea Grant. In her role as NRRI’s Stormwater Research Coordinator, Sprague will pull together research efforts in stormwater management best practices. In her role as Resilience Extension Educator for Minnesota Sea Grant, she will connect that research to community needs through collaborations.


Megan Weber (MAISRC, Extension Educator) was awarded the Universities Council on Water Resources Early Career Award for Extension/Outreach/Engagement, recognizing her contributions and accomplishments in leading development of the Aquatic Invasive Species Detectors Program. WRC Associate Director Joel Larson nominated Weber for the award. “As water resources program and research center leaders, we value programming that motivates and helps citizens and landowners address and mitigate critical Minnesota conservation challenges. Megan exemplifies this goal, leading development and delivery of the Extension AIS Detectors Program in an extremely short period by typical program development standards.”