I grew up in the city of Milwaukee, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point in 2001 with a B.S. in Water Resources. As an undergraduate I was fortunate to be involved with research that used groundwater age-dating techniques to investigate the groundwater-surface water interface. These techniques allowed us to better understand how current and historical land-uses were influencing water quality in a small Central Wisconsin stream. The realization that activities on the landscape may take years or decades before their influence is detected in groundwater-dominated stream systems and groundwater wells is an idea that remains fascinating to me. My experiences studying the interaction of land-use and water quality led me to pursue a M.S. degree in Soil Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Here I studied the implications of nitrogen application rates, tillage practices and manure management on drainage that leaches past the root zone of crops. I was fortunate to continue the investigation of research plots that had been established years earlier; the eight years of data that were collected represent one of the longest running leaching studies not performed on tile-drained fields. Observing how variable drainage and nitrogen losses were from year to year, even though management practices did not change, have imprinted upon me the importance of well-designed long term data sets for the purposes of evaluating effects of land-use on water quality at a watershed scale.
Since 2004 I have worked as a Groundwater Education Specialist with UW-Extension. In the tradition of the Wisconsin Idea, my role has been to provide research based education to Wisconsin residents about groundwater and drinking water issues. A primary focus has been assisting homeowners in the testing of their well water and providing information and assistance to those with water quality problems. The data generated from this work has become a valuable tool for helping communities to learn about the relationship between land-use, geology, and groundwater. This work has provided me an opportunity to interact with people from all corners of the state. It has also given me an appreciation for the challenges we face as a state that depends heavily on agriculture but at the same time relies primarily on groundwater as its principal water supply for both municipal water systems and rural residents.
For my doctoral research I plan to focus on studying the efficiency of agricultural systems related to nitrogen management and quantifying impacts to water resources. Conducting research and developing educational resources to assist landowners and communities when making management and/or policy decisions is my primary area of interest.