Program and People News

Fallow? When it Comes to Fellows, Quite the Oppositer

When it comes to fellows, things are anything but fallow. In fact, given the talent and enthusiasm of graduate students and post-docs in a variety of state and federal fellowships through the Water Resources Institute (WRI) or Sea Grant, this year and the next could be viewed as a bumper crop.

There are six fellowships routinely available to graduate and post-graduate students. They offer placements to enhance a student’s skills and interest in policy, coastal management, biology or planning.

An inaugural event to honor 2016 Wisconsin fellows, most with yearlong fellowships but two who will hold their positions for two years, was held in late September. It was a packed house in Milwaukee, not just because mentors and family members attended, but also simply due to the large class of varied fellows. It included:

Adam Bechle is the first J. Philip Keillor Wisconsin Coastal Management Fellow. One of his first tasks is updating the Wisconsin Sea Grant Coastal Processes Manual, a critical resource and a legacy work of longtime and former Wisconsin Sea Grant Coastal Engineer Phil Keillor, for whom the fellowship is named in honor of his highly regarded personal and professional attributes.  

Danielle Cloutier is a 2017 finalist for the Dean John A. Knauss Fellowship. This program has a rich history and offers a prestigious placement in the nation’s capital for one year—in either the executive or legislative branch. Students come from around the country. Cloutier’s past research has been on microbial communities in lakes and on beaches. She awaits word on her placement.

Joseph Dwyer is a NOAA Coastal Management Fellow. This program offers two-year experiences in states that successfully compete for a fellow from a small pool of finalists. Wisconsin, and its partner organization the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, will benefit from Dwyer’s assistance during 2016-18 as he explores ways to enhance coastal tourism. He’ll complete an inventory of Wisconsin’s coastal public lands and Great Lakes public access locations, which will inform future land acquisition and access development decisions.

Shelby LaBuhn is another Dean John A. Knauss Fellowship finalist who has been awaiting word on her final placement, which will come in the winter. The Ph.D. candidate’s most recent research has been on Lake Michigan habitat changes caused by climate shifts and the invasion of zebra and quagga mussels. Such changes have caused a lack of oxygen in the water, endangering fish.

Alex Latzka is Wisconsin’s first full-time postgraduate Water Resources Policy Fellow. His fellowship is funded by the Water Resources Institute and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. At the completion of his fellowship, which will be in September 2017, he will be able to hand the department guidance on the amount of sediment in the state’s streams, as well as regarding the health of the streams’ physical habitat.

Michael Polich is the Great Lakes Commission Fellow, and he will wrap up his year next spring. Before that time, he will have contributed in many ways to ongoing basin-wide issues such as harmful algal blooms and nonpoint source pollution. Polich is a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate with a degree in environmental law.

Carolyn Voter recently completed a year in support of the Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Committee, of which WRI is a member. The committee submits a report to the legislature on its efforts to study the state’s groundwater quantity, quality and management. As a 2015-16 fellow, Voter was instrumental in completing that report, as well as a revising Buried Treasure, a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources publication about groundwater.

Cristal Sanchez-Estrada, who is not a fellow but definitely deserved the fete as the recipient of the 2016 Carl J. Weston Scholarship, was also in attendance. She is an undergraduate student who is helping to build a genetic sequence library of Lake Michigan zooplankton as part of a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee-based Sea Grant project. 

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