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Photo: John A. Downing

John A. Downing, an internationally prominent aquatic researcher and educator, has agreed to become the University of Minnesota Sea Grant College Program's director and a professor in the Department of Biology starting in January. Noting Sea Grant's successes in addressing environmental and economic challenges along Lake Superior and Minnesota's inland waters with science, Downing said he looks forward to broadening the program's achievements, particularly in areas such as regional resiliency with respect to a changing climate and understanding the global and regional role of Lake Superior.

Downing is moving to Duluth from Iowa State University, where he is a Regent's Excellence Professor of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology and Chair of the Environmental Science Graduate Program. Dr. Downing is also the Chair of the Executive Board of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents and the past-president of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography.

In addition to academic appointments in Iowa and professional leadership roles that necessitate an office in Washington, D.C., Downing is an adjunct professor at Itasca Community College and a founding member of the Itasca Water Legacy Partnership. Revealing Minnesota roots that extend 110 years and exemplifying his personal commitment to freshwater resources, he and his family manage a tract of land and shoreline in Minnesota as a conservation area.

Downing's impressive career involves accolades for research, education and science policy. He sees water as the world's most important strategic resource and commented that he feels privileged to be focusing the next part of his career on his home waters in the "land of 10,000 lakes" and on Lake Superior, the world's most expansive freshwater sea.

St. Louis River Estuary: The Stories and the Science (stlouisriverestuary.org) earned an Outstanding Programming Award from the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network. The award was presented to Sea Grant staff from Minnesota and Wisconsin during the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network Conference in Burlington, Vermont. The website, supported by an extensive list of partners, was recognized for its unique combination of science and storytelling, and tools that help educators, students, natural resource managers, business owners and policy makers better understand how coastal Great Lakes ecosystems work.

St. Louis River Estuary work earns funding. NOAA awarded $19,600 to support a workshop in spring of 2016 that will orient people to the ecosystem services approach, and review completed ecosystem services work in the St. Louis River watershed. One of the products will be a map of ecosystem services data needs and opportunities. This information will be useful for area coastal decision-makers, researchers and managers. The Wisconsin and Minnesota Sea Grant Programs and the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve are leading the effort.

River Talk Series, Free, informal speaker series about the St. Louis River Estuary in Duluth-Superior began in October and will run through May 25, 2016. The Wisconsin and Minnesota Sea Grant Programs and the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve are sponsoring the evening talks. Dates and tentative topics for upcoming talks are:

  • Jan. 27, 2016: Clough Island Restoration Project
    7 p.m., Barker's Island Inn
  • Feb. 3, 2016: Topic TBD
    7 p.m., Barker's Island Inn
  • Feb. 24, 2016: Putting a Dollar Value on the Estuary: Ecosystem Valuation
    7 p.m., Barker's Island Inn
  • Mar. 30, 2016: Smile, You're on Candid Camera! Mammal Cams in the Estuary
    7 p.m., Vikre Distillery
  • Apr. 27, 2016: Radio Tower Bay
    7 p.m., Vikre Distillery
  • May 25, 2016: 21st Ave W. Project
    7 p.m., Vikre Distillery

Minnesota Climate Adaptation Conference, "Climate Adaptation: Transforming Awareness into Action," will be held in Minneapolis on January 28 and will include significant opportunities to highlight outstanding climate adaptation work. Minnesota Sea Grant is helping to plan the conference and had contributed financial support.

Minnesota Lake Superior Watershed Stream Science Symposium will be held in Duluth on January 6-7. Attendees will leave with a better understanding of how to incorporate scientific information and cost-effective methods into planning for and managing the Lake Superior watershed. This Symposium is funded in part by the Coastal Zone Management Act, NOAA's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resources Management, and in cooperation with Minnesota's Lake Superior Coastal Program. It is organized by the Minn. Department of Natural Resources, US Forest Service, US Environmental Protection Agency, Minnesota Sea Grant, Lake Superior Coldwater Coalition, Trout Unlimited, and Laurentian Resource Conservation and Development Council.

Upper Great Lakes Law and Policy Symposium

By Sea Grant Staff
December 2015

Return to December 2015 Seiche

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