Hello Everyone! Please see below for upcoming events in the WRS program, as well as updates on our graduate students, recent alumni, and new students and faculty. If you have any questions, or would like to add content to this e-newsletter, please contact: wrs@umn.edu.

* Upcoming Events & Deadlines

February 1 - WRS Travel Grant application deadline

March 6 - Welcome Weekend for prospective students (Twin Cities campus)*

March 7 - Welcome Weekend for prospective students (Duluth campus)*

March 21-22 - WRS Retreat, Audubon Center of the North Woods 

*If you are interested in hosting an out-of-town graduate student during Welcome Weekend, please contact Toni Wheeler (wrs@umn.edu) for more information.

* Graduate Student Highlights


Fall 2014 - WRS Travel Grant Recipients

Virginia Batts - M.S. Student in the WRS program

Talk or Poster: Physical Models in Geomorphology. Geological Society of America in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Amanda BrennanPh.D. Candidate in the WRS program

Talk or Poster: Monitoring PAH bioavailability during habitat restoration with navigational dredged materials. Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Tonya KjerlandM.S. Student in the WRS program

Talk or Poster: Handbook of Survey Methods for Measuring Wild Rice Productivity. Tribal Water Workshop, Mille Lacs Reservation, Onamia, MN.

Tiffany SpragueM.S. Student in the WRS program

Talk or Poster: Hydrologic Conditioning of Urban Watersheds: How Much is Enough? MN GIS/LIS Annual Conference, Rochester, MN.

2014-15 Smith Partners Fellowship Recipient

Jane Mazack - Ph.D. Candidate in the WRS program (minoring in GIS), currently researching aquatic invertebrates.

Best Paper - Water Quality Technology Conference (WQTC) (Awarded by the American Water Works Association (AWWA))

Kimi Gomez-Smith - Ph.D. Candidate in the WRS program

"Characterization of Drinking Water Distribution System Biofilm Communities Using Next-Generation Illumina Sequencing."


Kronholm, S. C., & Capel, P. D. (2014). A comparison of high‐resolution specific conductance‐based end‐member mixing analysis and a graphical method for baseflow separation of four streams in hydrologically challenging agricultural watersheds. Hydrological Processes., doi: 10.1002/hyp.10378. 

Mazack et al. (2015). Survivorship and longevity of adult Diamesa mendotae Muttkowski, 1915 (Diptera: Chironomidae) at controlled, sub-freezing temperatures. Aquatic Insects. 


Gomez-Smith, C.K.R. M. Hozalski, T. M. LaPara. Characterization of Drinking Water Distribution System Biofilm Communities Using Next-Generation Illumina Sequencing.  Water Quality Technology Conference (WQTC). *Awarded Best Paper at the WQTC Conference by the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

Gordon BA, Gamble J, Lenhart C, Current D, Ross N. Effectiveness of a treatment wetland at removing N and P from tile water. 2014 Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts – Minnesota Drainage Workshop. Alexandria, MN.

Gordon BA, Ross N, Lenhart C, Current D. Nitrogen reduction in a constructed wetland and wetland mesocosms. Biosystems and Bioagricultural Engineering 2014 Poster Session. University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota.

Kjerland, Tonya. Oct 2014. Handbook of Survey Methods for Monitoring Wild Rice. Presentation, Region 5 CWA 319 Tribal Water Workshop. Hinckley, MN.

Mazack, Jane. Oct 2014. Overwinter invertebrate community dynamics in groundwater-fed streams of southeastern Minnesota. Presentation, Water Resources Conference. St Paul, MN.

Sprague, Tiffany, Karen Gran & George Host. July 2014. Glacial and Post-Glacial History Revealed Through LiDAR. Poster Presentation, ESRI International User Conference. San Diego, CA.

Sprague, Tiffany, Karen Gran, Tom Hollenhorst & George Host. Oct 2014. Hydrologic Conditioning of Urban Watersheds: How Much is Enough? Poster Presentation, MN GIS/LIS Annual Conference. Rochester, MN.

Student Groups:

WRS-Duluth Surface Tensions Curling Team*

WRSIA-Duluth again sponsored an intramural curling team through UMD, the Surface Tensions, for the second year in a row.  While the Fall 2014 season ended at a loss, the Surface Tensions are confident they can rebound for the Spring 2015 season.  Team members include: Logan Bailey, Virginia Batts, Michael Sorenson, Tiffany Sprague, Jonathan Utecht, and Spencer Gardeen.

With the new curling season starting in February, the Surface Tensions are looking for a new member. No experience necessary, fee is $5/week. Contact the team captain, Virginia Batts (batts008@umn.edu) for more information.

* Graduate Faculty Updates

Please help us welcome our newest WRS graduate faculty!

Ralph Garono 

Ph.D. Aquatic Ecology, Kent State University, 1993 

Dr. Ralph Garono is current a Research Associate at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He has taught undergraduate courses at several institutions. He is trained in biochemical limnology (e.g., the role that phosphorus limitation plays in structuring planktonic communities) and in aquatic entomology. His current research interests focus on assessments, at multiple spatial and temporal scales, of aquatic and marine ecosystems. His research projects include: the use of aquatic insects as a wetland assessment tool; GIS-based watershed assessments; the use of GIS-based models to evaluate alternative land use scenarios; and, the use of hyperspectral imagery to map landscape patterns in intertidal estuarine vegetation.

Dr. Garono is currently coordinating a NOAA-funded project team composed of researchers from MN DNR, NRRI, and The Nature Conservancy that is looking at the role that climate and land use changes have on the flow patterns within Lake Superior North Shore tributaries. This study is developing computer models that will describe the patterns in water flow under several climate/land use change scenarios. The resulting flow metrics will then be used to predict the impact of these hydrological changes on in stream biota. In another series of studies, Dr. Garono is measuring wintertime patterns of dissolved oxygen concentration (DO) in the lower St. Louis River. Low DO can be detrimental to fish and other aquatic organisms, and is important in understanding patterns of nutrient availability. Relatively large areas of low DO have been measured both in the winter and in the summer in the St. Louis River. Finally, Dr. Garono is working with other researchers at NRRI to develop techniques to map and assess the ecological role that vernal pools play in upper Midwest forests.

He currently is the chair of the Society of Wetland Scientists Human Diversity Committee.

Kathryn Schreiner *

Texas A&M University, Ph.D.

Dr. Kathryn Schreiner is an Assistant Professor at the Large Lakes Observatory (LLO) at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Her research interests include carbon cycling and storage in lakes and lake sediments, the quantification and identification of terrestrial carbon sources to aquatic and marine systems, and the impacts of environmental change (climate warning, land use change, invasive species, etc.) on carbon cycling. 

Byron Steinman *

University of Pittsburgh, Ph.D.

Dr. Byron Steinman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Large Lakes Observatory (LLO) at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

As a paleoclimatologist and paleolimnologist, my research is primarily focused on reconstructing how climate has changed through time in various regions around the world including the Americas (North, South, and Central) and Asia using geochemical analyses of lake sediment. I use mathematical models of the lake-catchment-climate system to provide a quantitative basis for interpreting the lake sediment records. I also use global climate model simulations to provide insight into the configurations of the ocean-atmosphere system that produced the climate conditions inferred from the lake sediment records.

Thomas Hollenhorst

M.S. Wildlife Management, West Virginia University, 1990

Tom Hollenhorst is a landscape ecologist with the EPA Mid-continent Ecology Division.  He received a M.S. degree in Wildlife Management from West Virginia in 1988.  Tom Joined the EPA-MED lab in 2008 after working at the Center for Water and the Environment at the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI), University of Minnesota, Duluth, for the previous ten years.  Tom has worked on a wide variety of projects involving GIS and remote sensing technologies.  He has used these technologies for assessing watershed stress and condition around the Great Lakes and assessing and quantifying ecosystem goods and serves provided by coastal ecosystems.  He has used LiDAR data to further characterize watersheds, and forest lands within watersheds to assess relationship between various watershed characteristics and hydrology.  More recently Tom has been working to deploy an autonomous underwater glider (http://www.webbresearch.com/slocumglider.aspx) in the Great Lakes for continuous water quality measurements in the nearshore area, which then will be related to watershed characteristics and stress.

Ted Ozersky

University of Waterloo, Ph.D.

Dr. Ted Ozersky is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology and the Large Lakes Observatory (LLO) at the University of Minnesota- Duluth. His research interests include the effects of environmental change on nutrient dynamics, food webs, and community structure in large lakes; winter and under-ice ecology of large lakes; ecosystem effects of aquatic invasive species; and food web structure and contaminant trophodynamics. 

Santiago Romero-Vargas Castrillón

Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, Princeton University, 2012

Dr. Santiago Romero-Vargas Castrillón is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo-Engineering at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities. His major research interests include membrane-based processes for water treatment; membrane fouling; environmental nanotechnology; environmental colloid and surface science.

Kyungsoo Yoo *

Ph.D. ESPM-Ecosystem Sciences, University of California-Berkeley, 2003

Dr. Kyungsoo Yoo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

My research focuses on integrating the two fields of geomorphology and biogeochemistry through mathematical and empirical methods to better understand the carbon cycle and weathering processes in soils. My current research activities on weathering and carbon cycle are conducted at the Feather River Basin, California (tectonics gradient), the Piedmont Pennsylvania (land use gradient), SW. Australia (climate gradient), and N. Minnesota (biological invasion gradient). 

* Incoming Graduate Students 2014-15

Elizabeth Alexson 

Elizabeth is seeking an MS degree on the UMN-Duluth campus. She is being advised by Euan Reavie. 

Growing up in a landscape lakes and rivers and attending school on the shore of Lake Superior has inspired me to work to better understand and preserve water resources.  Luckily, I get to do this at the University of Minnesota Duluth while pursing a MS in Water Resources Science!  My research interests include using paleolimnology as a tool to understand the complex histories of our waters.  Currently, I am using diatom fossils found in sediment cores as an indicator of past and present water quality in the St. Louis River estuary of Minnesota. 

Mojtaba Fakhraee 

Mojtaba is seeking a PhD degree on the UMN-Duluth campus. He is being advised by Sergei Katsev.

My research lines and interests are cycling of nutrients, major and trace elements in sediment and their fluxes across the sediment-water interface, modeling the effects of natural and anthropogenic changes in aquatic environments on sediment-water exchanges and preservation of sediment paleo records, and geochemistry of water column. I have an opportunity to work at Large Lakes Observatory, the only institute in the US dedicated to the study of large lakes throughout the world.

Carrie Freeman

Carrie is seeking an MS degree on the UMN-Duluth campus. She is being advised by Jay Austin.

Her current research project is on the physical limnology of Lake Malawi.

Kara Fitzpatrick

Kara is seeking an MS degree on the UMN-Twin Cities campus. She is being advised by Joe Magner and Melinda Erickson.

I am a research assistant for Dr Joe Magner, through BBE, helping to design an effectiveness monitoring protocol that will detect those biological changes that signify water quality improvement, especially regarding the effectiveness of agricultural best management practices.  My long term professional goal is to run an environmental consulting firm.

Rebecca Hammer-Lester

Rebecca is seeking an MS degree on the UMN-Twin Cities campus. She is being advised by Chris Lenhart.

Specifically, I am interested in the effects of riparian vegetation and bank/bottom composition on stream channel health and stability. I am also interested in stream channels evolution on the annual to decadal scale and beyond.

Sophia LaFond

Sophia is seeking an MS degree on the UMN-Duluth campus. She is being advised by Nathan Johnson and John Pastor.

She is primarily interested in researching geochemistry of wild rice rooting zones, biogeochemistry, and water quality.

Taylor Nelson

Taylor is seeking an MS degree on the UMN-Twin Cities campus. She is being advised by Joe Magner.

My research interests include microbial water impairment and remediation.

Mark Moehlenbrock

Mark is seeking an MS degree on the UMN-Twin Cities campus. He is being advised by Bruce Wilson.

My research interests are the effects of land use and drainage practices on surface water quality, especially in agricultural areas.

Kailyn Pederson

Kailyn is seeking an MS degree on the UMN-Twin Cities campus. She is being advised by James Cotner.

Cody Tennant

Cody is seeking an MS degree on the UMN-Duluth campus. He is being advised by Elizabeth Austin-Minor. 

My primary research interest is aquatic chemistry; carbon and nutrient cycling in lakes.

Seth Thompson 

Seth is a seeking a PhD degree on the UMN-Twin Cities campus. He is being advised by James Cotner.

Previously an MS student in the Water Resources Science program, Seth is now continuing for his PhD degree. He is primarily interested in the study of microbial ecology.

Song Xu

Song is seeking an MS degree on the UMN-Twin Cities campus. He is being advised by Bruce Wilson. 

* Update on Recent WRS Graduates

Brittany Kruger - Doctor of Philosophy, Water Resources Science, 2014

Advisor(s): Josef Werne & Elizabeth Minor

Thesis: Sources, cycling, and fate of organic matter in large lakes: Insights from stable isotope and radiocarbon analysis in Lakes Malawi and Superior.

Current Employment: Staff Scientist in the Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Las Vegas, NV.

I serve as the fieldwork and laboratory manager for Duane Moser's Environmental Microbiology and Astrobiology laboratories, as well as pursue personal research interests in conjunction with that lab.  Our lab covers a broad range of environmental microbiology research, with particular interest in deep subsurface and unique environments.  Current research efforts focus on partnerships with the NASA Astrobiology Institute's Life Underground node exploring the deep subsurface biosphere, and the NSF Genealogy of Life program investigating environments which are unusually high in "microbial dark matter"- e.g., that contain high percentages of novel phyla.

Hongyu Li - Doctor of Philosophy, Water Resources Science, 2014

Advisor(s): Elizabeth Austin-Minor

Thesis: Organic matter biogeochemical characteristics in Lake Superior: Insights into composition, source and reactivity. 

Current Employment: Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Marine Science Program, Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of South Carolina

Jiying Li - Doctor of Philosophy, Water Resources Science, 2014

Advisor(s): Sergei Katsev

Shahram Missaghi - Doctor of Philosophy, Water Resources Science, 2014

Advisor(s): Miki Hondzo & Lorin Hatch

Thesis: Three dimensional water quality modeling in a shallow lake with complex morphometry; implications for coolwater fish habitat under changing climate.

Current Employment: University of Minnesota Extension, Water Resources team member

Shahram (Shane) Missaghi develops research based stormwater education and training to promote innovative practices that reduce the environmental impacts of excessive stormwater runoff.  Recent programs (http://www.extension.umn.edu/stormwater/) have focused on delivering stormwater practices education with a focus on maintenance.  He has a PhD in Water Resources Science (Limnology and Oceanography ) and conducts research in ecological modeling and climate change impact on lakes and streams. Shane is also part of Professor Hondzo's research group at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory.

Jill Coleman Wasik - Doctor of Philosophy, Water Resources Science, 2014

Advisor(s): Daniel Engstrom

Lucas Gloege - Masters of Science, Water Resources Science, 2014

Advisor(s): Jay Austin

Nikol Ross - Masters of Science, Water Resources Science, 2014

Advisor(s): Joe Magner & Chris Lenhart

Leah Smith - Masters of Science, Water Resources Science, 2014

Advisor(s): Joe Magner

Thesis: BMP Nutrient and Sediment Reductions and Implementation Strategies for the Prioritization, Targeting, and Measuring Water Quality Improvement Application.

Current Employment: Senior Water Resources Engineer, SRF Consulting Group, Inc.

James Wisker - Masters of Science, Water Resources Science, 2014

Advisor(s): Bruce Wilson