Jim Hurley, a University of Wisconsin-Madison environmental chemist, returns to the ASC after a year with the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene. Photo: UW Communications/Bryce Richter.
Program and People News
"You can take the boy out of Sea Grant, but…?” Jim Hurley, former research and outreach assistant director for the Aquatic Sciences Center (ASC), included these words in a farewell email to his Sea Grant colleagues when he left his position in 2011. Apparently the Sea Grant influence was too strong to resist. Hurley returns to Wisconsin Sea Grant and the Water Resources Institute (collectively managed as the ASC) as director—effective May 1.
Jim Hurley Returns to Aquatic Sciences Center as Director
“I’m excited to be back,” Hurley said. “I had developed such a great network of people in Wisconsin and beyond during the 12 years I was here before. You don’t always realize how lucky you are to work with these talented people until you’re disconnected from them.”
Hurley, a University of Wisconsin environmental chemist, comes to the ASC from the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene where he served as director of its environmental health division. He credits his year at the lab with reinforcing the recognition that environmental issues and public health are linked, and he hopes to bring that perspective back to the ASC. Hurley was also appointed as a tenured faculty member in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UW-Madison and started teaching and forming his research group with new graduate students.
Increased Opportunities for Graduate Students
At the ASC Hurley hopes to increase the visibility and opportunities for Sea Grant- and Water Resources Institute-funded graduate students. “I’d like to have them interact more with our staff, with each other and with researchers from other Wisconsin programs. After all, the students are why we’re all here,” Hurley said.
In addition to his director position, Hurley will have a 25percent faculty appointment. He will be teaching a graduate level water analysis course this fall.
A Relevant Background for the Job
Martin Cadwallader, Dean of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School, will be Hurley’s boss. “We’re excited that Jim has agreed to assume leadership of our Aquatic Sciences Center, including the UW Sea Grant Institute,” said Cadwallader. “He has an excellent, relevant background that makes him perfectly qualified for the job. His intimate knowledge of the Aquatic Sciences program, its mission and staff means he’ll hit the ground running and help enhance the status of a program that already enjoys an unparalleled international reputation.”
Hurley has the daunting task of replacing Anders Andren as long-time director of the ASC. Andren, who recently retired, plans to stay on board to help with the transition through June 30. Then he intends to stay active by helping other Sea Grant programs with grant application reviews or with writing proposals. He’s also looking forward to pursuing his passion for composing and playing guitar music.
Andren is pleased with his successor, “I was really delighted when I was told that Jim had been appointed as the new director of the University of Wisconsin Aquatic Sciences Center. This is a great fit for the University of Wisconsin, for the Sea Grant and Water Resources Institutes, and for Jim. Because of his previous work with us and his thorough knowledge of water related issues on a local, regional and national scale, he will be able to hit the ground running immediately. This was just a great choice. I could not be happier for Jim and the staff of the Aquatic Sciences Center.”
“It’s pretty humbling to think that there have only been two other Wisconsin Sea Grant directors in 40 years,” Hurley said. “There are not many other Sea Grant programs with the same longevity that have consistently maintained a high level of excellence.”
The head of the national State Water Resources Research Institute with the US Geological Survey, John Schefter, had this to say: “I am pleased to learn that Jim has been selected for the position of director of the Aquatic Sciences Center. In my many years of administering the State Water Resources Research Institute Program, the UW Water Resources Institute has been one of the few consistently among the very best of the 54 such institutes nationwide. I expect that Jim will continue in that tradition. “
An Internationally Recognized Scientist
Throughout his career, Hurley has worked extensively on the impact of mercury in northern Wisconsin lakes, the Great Lakes and the Everglades. Hurley has chaired several regional and national Sea Grant committees and was a member of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board, which developed a risk assessment for US mercury emissions in 2011. Hurley earned a distinguished service award in 2009 from the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Water Resources Association and earned the Assembly of Sea Grant Extension Program Leaders Chairman’s Award in 2006.
“Jim’s not only an internationally recognized scientist and mercury expert, he’s also got a wealth of experience with Sea Grant,” said Val Klump, director of the Great Lakes WATER Institute at the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences. “He’s a terrific guy and really well-liked. It’s hard to imagine anyone else with his credentials who is better prepared for this job. Jim will help keep the Wisconsin program as a national leader for Sea Grant and Water Resources.”
Hurley welcomes a return to the creativity and motivation of the people in the Aquatic Sciences Center and Sea Grant nationally. “The energy, the innovation, the ability to link research and outreach — these are unique to Sea Grant,” Hurley said.