Phillip Bumpers presents his research wearing sandals, jeans, and a white collared shirt. A screen displays the image of a stream and text. Above the screen in black and red lettering reads the words Innovation District.

University units collaborate to host Climate and Water Research Slam

Great minds don’t necessarily think alike—and the River Basin Center feels that’s valuable.  

That’s why it partnered with The Office of Sustainability and the Georgia Initiative for Climate and Society to host the Climate and Water Research Slam on May 12, 1 to 5 p.m. 

Twenty-two speakers—including lawyers, engineers, ecologists and social scientists—from organizations across the University of Georgia campus gathered to present lightning presentations in their areas of expertise. The event featured talks from students and faculty alike.   

Presenters distilled years of research into bite-sized pieces: Talks lasted five minutes, with time for a handful of questions after each. Topics ranged widely, from melting Antarctic ice sheets to economics and irrigation, to hydrosocial concerns, to the impact of policy on Georgian wetland.

“Personally, I was very excited to see this exchange of ideas between our RBC affiliates, who mainly work in freshwater and coastal systems, with colleagues working on climate-related project in other realms,” said Seth Wenger, director for science at the River Basin Center. He co-facilitated the event alongside Cory Struthers, affiliate at the Georgia Initiative and Tyra Byers, director of the Interdisciplinary Certificate in Sustainability.  

Struthers agreed with Wenger. Collaboration encouraged by interdisciplinary events is not only useful—it’s necessary.

“Cultivating community, including friendship, is so important for fostering intellectual creativity and innovative scholarship on epic challenges like climate change. Events like the Research Slam help us re-energize on these fronts,” she said.

Struthers was hired two years ago at the School of Public and International Affairs. She’s been motivated to work on climate issues and organize climate faculty ever since, and she wanted to host a networking event through the Georgia Initiative.

So she reached out to Byers. When they in turn reached out to Wenger, to ensure that the River Basin Center wasn’t hosting an overlapping event, he let them know the center was optioning a research slam.

“We decided to all join forces,” Struthers explained.

And for the three organizers, climate and water were a natural thematic fit. “That kind of cross-sectional issue space between water and hydrology and climate is so joined together. It would be hard to just study water without talking about climate,” Struthers pointed out.

The venue for the event was the newly renovated Delta Innovation Hub. Presentations were followed by a networking reception for participants to exchange ideas and to brainstorm new collaborations.  

“It was an opportunity to socialize and just get a feel for everybody’s research and personality,” said Struthers.

For those who missed that opportunity, not to worry. The organizers plan to make the research slam a recurring event. 

A blonde woman poses in a black shirt outside.

2022 John Spencer Research Grant recipients announced

The River Basin Center is proud to announce that Cydney Seigerman, Laura Naslund and Ali Moss have been awarded John Spencer Research Grants for 2022.

Seigerman, the first two-time recipient of the grant, is a PhD candidate in Anthropology and Integrative Conservation (ICON.) Their research proposal focused on water insecurities in the semi-arid region of Sertão Central, Ceará, Brazil and was fully funded.

“I study the lived experience of water security—access to enough water of good quality to live a good life,” said Seigerman. “My research incorporates methods and theories from sociocultural anthropology, hydrology, theatre and philosophy of technology to examine the ways this lived experience and hydrological, sociopolitical, and technological processes help shape each other.”

Cydney Seigerman wears black glasses and smiles above a background of hills, buildings and shoreline.
Cydney Seigerman

Naslund is pursuing her PhD at the Odum School of Ecology, and her research proposal on greenhouse gas emissions from small impoundments was also fully funded. She hopes to apply the resulting knowledge to the management of aging dams while aligning infrastructure and climate goals.

A blonde woman poses in a black shirt outside.
Laura Naslund

Moss, a master’s student at the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, was awarded partial funding for her research, which investigates the impact of prescribed fire on spoil carbon cycling.

A woman wearing a black and pink shirt and a baseball hat sits in a large tree.
Ali Moss

The John Spencer Research grants were in inaugurated in 2016 with a generous donation from Kathleen Amos in memory of her son, John Spencer, a beloved master’s student at the River Basin Center and Odum School of Ecology. Ongoing support for these annual awards comes from donations (click here to donate!). Applications are open to all graduate student affiliates of the River Basin Center.

A man in a blue shirt poses outside.

Dr. Darold Batzer elected Fellow of the Society of Wetland Scientists

River Basin Center affiliate Dr. Darold Batzer was announced a Fellow of the Society of Wetland Scientists on Tuesday.

To be named a Fellow is the highest recognition of membership that the organization confers, according to its website. Batzer, whose research is primarily in the ecology of freshwater wetland invertebrates, has been an active member for years.

To read more about the honor or learn more about the organization, visit the group’s site here.

A portion of a map of Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp.

River Basin Center affiliate helms Okefenokee case study

RBC affiliate Rhett Jackson and his colleagues recently published a case study highlighting the impacts of the 2020 ruling to replace the Clean Water Rule with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule on the Okefenokee Swamp, a Georgia swamp that lost federal protection under the new ruling.

The article, “Redefining Water of the US: a Case Study from the Edge of the Okefenokee Swamp,” was published in Applied Wetland Science, and it found that application of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule may allow for the degradation and destruction of socially and ecologically important wetlands.

Wetlands are a form of natural infrastructure that provide numerous benefits to surrounding communities and ecosystems, acting as giant sponges that absorb and purify water, store carbon and provide habitat for economically and ecologically important species.

To learn more, you can access the article here.

Ally Whiteis, wearing a black blouse and black and white checkered pants, poses with her arm around Olivia Allen, who wears a navy diamond patterned dress in front of their posters.

On Stream Warming and Food Chains: RBC Undergraduates present at UGA CURO Symposium

Olivia Allen and Ally Whiteis, undergraduate students in the Odum School of Ecology (and working with doctoral students Nathan Tomczyk and Carolyn Cummins) presented their research results at the UGA CURO symposium on April 4th.

Both students found that stream organisms and food resources changed due to streamwater warming.  Their experiments ranged from field measurements of algae in an experimentally warmed stream to laboratory studies of microbial responses to temperature. 

To learn more about this kind of research, visit the Rosemond Lab website.

Photo credit: Carolyn Cummins
Written by: Dr. Amy Rosemond

Precision Conservation of Imperiled Species

A tiny, rainbow-finned fish lives in the swiftly flowing waters of Georgia’s Etowah River. Known as the Etowah darter (Etheostoma etowahae), it exists only in the Etowah River Basin, mainly inhabiting the mountain streams of North Georgia.

The Etowah darter is only one example of the diverse array of freshwater fish, amphibians, crawfish and mussels that live in Georgia, including many endemic, imperiled species. However, the state is also a bustling transportation hub, with 1,253 miles of interstate highway and the busiest airport in the world.

Many of these species are highly sensitive to the threats associated with development.

In a recent project that brought together the University of Georgia’s River Basin Center and Institute for Resilient Infrastructure Systems, the Georgia Department of Transportation, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, researchers pinpointed ways to facilitate important construction projects around the state while tailoring conservation practices to each imperiled species’ needs.

Read the full article here.

Climate and Water Research Slam

Save the date: Climate and Water Research SlamThursday, May 12 1:00-5:00

The River Basin Center, the Georgia Initiative for Climate and Society, and the Office of Sustainability have joined forces for a climate and water “research slam” — a series of five-minute lightning talks by faculty and students on climate OR water (or both) followed by a social.

We have an awesome lineup of 24 5-minute lightning talks from a diverse group of speakers from across the UGA campus. Join us to hear about the wide range of water and climate work at UGA, to network with colleagues, and to celebrate the end of the semester. After the talks we’ll have a social with beverages and heavy snacks. Please join us!

Location: Innovation Hub, 210 Spring Street 

Schedule of Events:

  1:00 – 2:40  Session 1

  3:00 – 4:20  Session 2

  4:20 – 5:00  Social with beverages and snacks

Registration is free! But to help us plan for enough food and beverages, we ask you to please fill out this registration form by Monday May 9.

To see the full lineup, check out the draft detailed schedule (subject to correction for the next couple of days).

Stream Crossings in Georgia: A Handbook for Connectivity and Resilience

As you drive the winding roads of Georgia, it’s a common occurrence to sail over a culvert or bridge and get a brief glimpse of a stream burbling away into the overgrowth before you’re whisked on to new views.

These intersections of infrastructure and nature are so commonplace that we hardly think about them. However, they have important implications for imperiled wildlife and public safety.

The Georgia Aquatic Connectivity Team just released a new version of a handbook, Stream Crossings in Georgia: A Handbook for Connectivity and Resilience, which provides guidance on how to improve poorly designed and undersized steam-crossings to improve water quality, stream habitat, and public safety.

“A badly designed or failing stream culvert is both a safety hazard and a cause of aquatic habitat degradation,” said Seth Wenger, Director of Science for the River Basin Center, and a UGA contributor to the handbook. “Poor road crossings also block the movement of fish, which fragments populations and makes species less resilient to other stressors.”

The Southeast is home to an unparalleled diversity of aquatic species, and its streams and rivers are known for their beauty and recreational value. Poor road crossings are among the most widespread threats to these systems. The authors hope that this manual will provide guidance for local governments and other agencies responsible for maintaining, replacing, and constructing new culverts and bridges.

“We’ve learned a lot in the past 10 years about how to build road crossings that are good for streams, safe for people, and affordable to construct.” Wenger continued. “This updated manual reflects the current understanding and makes it accessible to everybody.”

The Georgia Aquatic Connectivity Team is spearheaded by the Nature Conservancy, the US Fish and Wildlife Services, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division. Other contributors to the handbook were from the Georgia Department of Transportation, the US EPA, the City of Atlanta, the Southeastern Aquatic Resources Partnership and several consulting firms.

You can access the handbook for free here.

Writer: Sarah Buckleitner
Contact: Seth Wenger (swenger@uga.edu)
Featured image credit: Sara Gottlieb

New position available: Communications Coordinator

This position will serve as public relations professional for the Odum School of Ecology (OSE) while assisting in communications for the UGA River Basin Center (RBC).

For the OSE, the employee will produce written, visual and multimedia content to tell the Odum School story, including press releases, features, and social media posts about Odum research, teaching, outreach, events, and people. The incumbent may also provide design services for the Odum School website and programs. In addition, this position provides communications support for the OSE development and alumni relations program. For this area, the employee will report to OSE’s Communications Coordinator.

For the RBC, the employee will be responsible for updating and implementing a communications plan, including a social media plan, and will manage public relations and communications for specific externally funded projects as needed. The coordinator will maintain the RBC website and oversee the creation of articles and press releases highlighting RBC projects and profiling affiliate faculty, staff, and students. The position will coordinate the biennial Georgia Water Resources Conference, the Third Wednesday symposium series, and other RBC events. For this area, the employee will report to a co-Director of RBC.

This position will oversee up to four rotating student interns who will assist with various tasks. This position will regularly interact with faculty, staff, and students among OSE and other university units. They may be called on to speak on behalf of the OSE or RBC, or projects managed by either, both internally at UGA and externally. Therefore, decisions of the position determine the effectiveness of the communications activities of both the OSE and RBC and influence the reputation and performance of both units.

Learn more about the position or apply:

https://www.ugajobsearch.com/postings/247579