Keynote Speakers

Upstream Thinking; Rebuilding the Commons for Water Quality and Health
Brandi Janssen

Brandi Janssen is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa and director of the Central Midwest Climate Opportunities and Learning (CM CO-Learn) center, a NOAA-funded CAP/RISA team. Trained as a cultural anthropologist, her work focuses on rural environmental health, sustainable agriculture, and community-based responses to climate change and the environment.  She is author of the book Making Local Food Work: The Challenges and Opportunities of Today’s Small Farmers.

It Doesn’t Have to be This Way
Seth Watkins

Established by his Great Grandfather Shambaugh in 1848, Seth Watkins is the fourth generation of his family to care for Pinhook Farm, located near Clarinda, IA. Today, Pinhook Farm is home to a herd of Angus cattle, several hives of honey bees, a small flock of Katahdin sheep, and five laying hens. Seth attributes the generational success of Pinhook Farm to prioritizing stewardship over production by striving to build systems that work with nature. In addition to caring for livestock, Seth is a TedX Speaker, serves as a United Nations Food Systems Champion, and serves on the Iowa USDA Farm Service Agency State Committee.

Accelerating Community Readiness for Beneficial Water Reuse in Small Communities: A Sustainable Future for Iowa Cities
Kaoru Ikuma

Dr. Kaoru Ikuma is an associate professor of environmental engineering at Iowa State University. Her research and teaching interests lie in providing safe and feasible solutions to environmental challenges to communities.

Session Speakers

Snow Gardens: The Intersection of Meltwater and Stormwater Management
Connie Fortin and Matt Isakson

Connie Fortin has been working for 20 years with winter maintenance professionals trying to reduce salt by integrating science into winter maintenance. Now she finds herself in an engineering firm, Bolton & Menk, working to integrate low salt concepts into infrastructure design. Improved winter design is the most cost-effective way to get on top of the chloride problem and she is energized to share this new strategy.

Matt Isakson is a project engineer at Bolton & Menk who debuted his professional career in 2015. As part of the site design team, his expertise spans site plan concepts, grading plans, and stormwater modeling and reports. His passion for the field stems from his childhood— growing up in Shakopee, MN, and having a first-hand look at the construction and development going on throughout the city.

From Data to Stories: The Blue-Green Action Platform (BLUEGAP) and the Role of Arts and Humanities in Addressing Nitrogen Pollution
David Cwiertny and Eric Gidel

David Cwiertny is a Professor in the University of Iowa College of Engineering, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. His research program broadly focuses on pollutant fate in natural and engineered systems, with expertise related to emerging pollutant transformation pathways and the development of nanomaterial-based treatment technologies that promote water sustainability. Cwiertny is a core faculty member in the campus-wide Water Sustainability Initiative and has developed graduate and undergraduate courses related to society’s pursuit of sustainable water resources. David is the Co-PI of the BlueGAP project.

Professor Eric Gidal teaches courses in the environmental literary studies, public humanities, and European Literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with emphasis in media studies, information theory, and environmental history. Through BlueGAP Professor Gidal has served as advisor and leader of 12 arts and humanities graduate students.

Stormwater Reuse for Irrigation: From Planning to Implementation
Jennifer Koehler

Jen Koehler is a senior water resources engineer with Barr Engineering Company. She has over 18 years of experience in water resources planning, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, water quality modeling, and design of flood mitigation projects and water quality BMPs. More recently, she has been involved in a variety of stormwater reuse projects.

Small Cities, Big Challenges, Climate Resiliency Modeling Approaches for Populations under 10,000
Megan Lukas and Meghan Funke

Megan Lukas is a Water Resources Engineer at WHKS specializing in agricultural and stormwater BMP design, hydraulic modeling, and wetland delineation.

Meghan Funke, PE, PhD is the Water Resources Team Lead at WHKS and oversees hydraulic modeling, environmental permitting, and the design and implementation of river restoration projects. She is a Licensed Professional Engineer in Iowa and Minnesota.

Restoring, Enhancing, and Assessing Stream Restoration Sites in Eastern Polk County
John Swanson, Charles Ikenberry and Sara McMillian

John Swanson serves as the Water Resources Supervisor at Polk County Public works and leads the county’s efforts to reduce flooding and improve water quality by implementing a variety of projects across rural and urban areas. John has been successful assisting local agencies with external funding acquisition to support the planning, design, and implementation of projects at scale. Additionally, John plays a key role in collaboration and facilitation of land and water related partnerships across communities and landowners.

Charles Ikenberry has more than 20 years of experience in water resources engineering, including watershed and water quality planning as well as execution of models to support plan development. Charles serves as the Des Moines Office Manager and is responsible for project management and business development in addition to his technical role in watershed and water quality projects.

Sara McMillan is a Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University. She is also a Professional Engineer with expertise in river and wetland restoration, conservation practices, and stormwater management. Sara’s research focuses on how humans impact water quality in rivers, lakes, and wetlands and how climate change will affect access to clean water, sustainable food production, and healthy ecosystems.

Agricultural Drainage Water Recycling: Momentum Towards a Win-Win Solution for Water Quantity and Quality Challenges
Spencer Pech

Spencer Pech is a Civil Engineer at ISG specializing in producing data-driven water quality and agriculture drainage solutions for ISG’s water resource team. Applying knowledge gained from his personal experience growing up on a family farm, formal education, and professional career, he designs drainage systems, storage basins, wetlands, and edge-of field practices for ISG’s agriculture and watershed partners throughout the Midwest.

Quantifying and Argumenting Flood Reductions Provided by Conservation BMP’s in Charles City’s Washington School Watershed
Daniel Gilles

Daniel Gilles is a water resources engineer at the Iowa Flood Center. He has experience developing hydrologic and hydraulic models along with inundation mapping for Iowa’s communities.

PFAS Distribution in Iowa Lakes
Joseph Charbonnet

Dr. Joe Charbonnet is an assistant professor of environmental engineering at Iowa State University, where he studies chemical water quality. He earned his doctorate at UC Berkeley, where he researched materials to treat stormwater contamination. He completed fellowships at the Colorado School of Mines and the Green Science Policy Institute. He has published several-peer reviewed articles about PFAS forensics, with a particular focus on clearly communicating the results of advanced spectrometry studies. The toxic contaminant he identifies with most closely is lead, because he considers himself flexible, yet somewhat dense.

Private Well Stewardship Program: Helping Iowans Test and Understand their Drinking Water
Catherine DeLong

Catherine DeLong is the Water Quality Program Manager for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She works statewide to bring people together to share resources, ideas and perspectives about water quality, and to help Iowans understand the role they can play in Iowa’s water future. She has an MS degree in Soil Science from Iowa State University, and a BA in International Relations from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

The Iowa Biomonitoring Program: Assessment of Mental and Metalloid Exposure from Well Water in Iowa
Donald Simmons

Dr. Donald Simmons serves as Chief Scientist at the State Hygienic Laboratory (SHL) Ankeny laboratory serving as technical support for Environmental Health, Newborn Screening and Biomonitoring programs. Dr. Simmons has worked for SHL since 1998. He has extensive experience in several sections in the Ankeny laboratory, including Blood Lead Testing, Metals by Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICPMS), and Industrial Hygiene. He is the Program Manager for the Lab Certification program. He currently provides testing of Urinary Arsenic Speciation by HPLC-ICPMS for the SHL Biomonitoring program.

Dr. Simmons earned a B.S. in Chemistry at the University of Oklahoma in 1985. He went on to earn M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in analytical chemistry in 1989 and 1994, respectively. He completed a two-year Environmental Health fellowship with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1996 to 1998 developing research programs in new blood lead technology and childhood lead poisoning prevention.

The Restoration of McFarland Lake in Ames, IA
Luke Monat

Luke is a professional engineer and project manager at Shive-Hattery. He has a background in water resources and conservation projects. Luke leads the Water & Environment Market for Shive-Hattery with a team of professionals dedicated to helping Clients preserve, enhance, and restore our natural resources. As the Parks Superintendent for Story County Conservation, Ryan is responsible for management of the county’s parks, wildlife areas and trails, recreational facilities, and oversight of field operations. This scope of work also includes management of capital projects and SCCB’s law enforcement program. Ryan leads a dedicated team that protects and improves Story County’s natural areas for all to enjoy.

Accelerating the Adoption of Saturated Buffers Using an Educational Decision-Support Tool
Christopher Hay and Catherine Delong

Chris Hay is an independent consultant providing technical assistance on agricultural water management and water quality issues. Chris has more than 30 years of experience in academia, consulting, industry, and government.

Catherine DeLong is the Water Quality Program Manager for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She works statewide to bring people together to share resources, ideas and perspectives about water quality, and to help Iowans understand the role they can play in the future of Iowa’s water.

We Know the Problems, But Not the Solutions! : Using FEMA Scoping Programs to Identify and Screen Alternatives
Kevin Kruse

Kevin Kruse is a Senior Project Manager in the Water Resources Engineering Department at JEO Consulting Group, Inc. During his 23 years at JEO, he has helped clients foster a safer and more resilient relationship with natural water resources. This has included hydrologic & hydraulic evaluations, design and construction administration of improvements to reduce flood risk and make communities safer. Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Engineering from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. Kevin has presented at numerous local, regional and national conferences and has a strong passion for flood awareness and risk reduction.

The Need for Groundwater Planning for Iowa
Keith Schilling

Dr. Keith Schilling is the State Geologist of Iowa and Director of the Iowa Geological Survey at the University of Iowa. Dr, Schilling is also a research engineer at IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering at the University of Iowa and an adjunct professor at the University of Iowa Department of Earth and Environmental Science and at Iowa State University Department of Natural Resources Ecology and Management. He received an M.S. degree in Water Resources from Iowa State University and a Ph.D. degree in Geology from the University of Iowa. His research has focused on a variety of water-related issues in Iowa, including groundwater flow and quality, surface and groundwater interaction, nonpoint source pollution and watershed and floodplain processes.

Maryville’s One Water Approach for Source Water Protection: Mozingo Lake 319 Watershed Plan
Katie Greenstein and Ryan Heiland

Katie Greenstein is a Water Quality Specialist at HDR’s Cedar Rapids office. In that role, Katie works with municipal and industrial clients to develop strategies to navigate state and federal water quality and drinking water regulations. Prior to working for HDR, Katie served as a Senior Engineer and Supervisor of Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. She graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from California Polytechnic State University and a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Iowa.

Ryan Heiland has served the City of Maryville and the Maryville community since being hired as the Assistant City Manager in 2012. Ryan began his career in local government with the City of Phoenix, Arizona and has worked for communities in Arizona, Iowa, and Missouri over the course of his career. Ryan is certified with the American Planning Association (APA) as a Certified Planner (AICP) for his background in urban planning and completed his master’s degree in public administration (MPA) with a Public Policy emphasis at Drake University. Ryan’s role with the City of Maryville includes overseeing the operations of Mozingo Lake Recreation Park.

Collaborative Conservations for Climate Resilient Watersheds
Jack Stinogel, V Fixmer-Oraiz and Humberto Vergara

SF 455 Iowa’s New Law on Stormwater and Topsoil
Aaron Gwinnup

Aaron Gwinnup is a water resources engineer working to improve the state of our surface water, and the ecology that surrounds it.

Guidelines and Standards of Care
Greg Pierce

Greg is a Water Resource Engineer with 25 years of experience in Civil Engineering—planning, designing and providing bid assistance/construction administration for both public and private projects. His planning experience includes comprehensive plans, large-scale master plans, watershed/city-scale stormwater management and neighborhood-scale design. Greg has also worked on construction projects that involve water distribution, wastewater collection, stormwater quality and quantity best management practices, transportation facilities, urban streetscapes, ADA sidewalk accessibility, civil site design and stream corridor preservation and restoration. Greg holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (Civil Engineering) from University of Iowa, is licensed in six states and is a Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control. He has served on the Iowa DNR’s Iowa Stormwater Management Manual Technical Committee since 2012.

State Revolving Fund Nonprofit Source Loan Program: Stormwater Management and Erosion Control for Communities and Landowners
Julie Kelso

Julie Kelso joined the Dept of Natural Resources in 2022 as the State Revolving Fund Nonpoint Source Program Manager. Her background is in freshwater ecology and hydrology. Prior to moving to Iowa, she was a fellow for the Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water helping to develop a national Streamflow Duration Assessment Method.

Why is Watershed Phosphorus Loading Stubbornly Persistent?
Joseph Bischoff

Joe is a senior limnologist with Barr Engineering Co. in Minneapolis, MN. Joe’s primary focus is on phosphorus cycling in surface waters including lakes, ponds, and wetlands with a special interest in sediment biogeochemistry. Joe’s work includes lake assessment and management including aquatic plants, phytoplankton, Harmful Algal Blooms, and nutrients.

PFAS (Forever Chemicals): The Hidden Toxins in the Environment
Majid Nada

Majid Nada is an Environmental Scientist at Iowa State hygienic Lab. Majid is holding PhD degree in Chemistry from University of Iowa. Majid is currently leading PFAS testing program at the state hygienic lab.

U.S Geological Survey StreamStats-Streamflow for Your Needs
Padraic O’Shea & Mackenzie Marti

Padraic O’Shea is a Statistician with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Central Midwest Water Science Center, in the Iowa City, Iowa office. Padraic has worked in the Center (formerly the Iowa Water Science Center) since 2014. His area of expertise with the USGS is in statistical surface-water hydrology.

Mackenzie Marti is a Physical Scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Central Midwest Water Science Center, in Urbana, Illinois. She joined the USGS in 2020 in the Statistical Hydrology and Water Availability section. Her current work includes conducting peak-flow frequency analyses, estimating streamflow at ungaged basins in Illinois and Indiana, and investigating potential trends in flood-frequency distributions in the Midwest, among other projects.

Iowa ADW Closure Program
Michael Bourland

Mike Bourland has both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois. He has worked as an Environmental Engineer for Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship for over 25 years. He works with conservation practices in agriculture settings and has been a part of the ADW-Closure program for most of his state career.

Nitrate Watch: Community Science Meets Nutrient Pollution
Heather Wilson

Heather Wilson is the Midwest Save Our Streams Coordinator for the Izaak Walton League of America. In this role, she trains and supports Save Our Streams volunteers and trainers across the Midwest and oversees the Nitrate Watch program. Heather received her M.S. in Environmental Education from Southern Oregon University and her B.S. in Biology from Iowa State University. She is passionate about fostering connections between people and the environment, and believes in the power of small actions to create big impacts.

Innovate Local Watershed Plans: Connecting Water Quality and Climate
Rachel Olm and Doug Bos

Rachel Olm is a scientist and watershed planner with Houston Engineering. She has collaborated alongside local government partners to facilitate and develop over 15 comprehensive watershed management plans, spanning urban and rural landscapes in Minnesota and Iowa.

Doug Bos is the Assistant Director of the Rock County Soil and Water Conservation District Land Management Office in Luverne, Minnesota. Doug has been an active leader on the development, implementation, and tracking efforts of the Missouri River Watershed Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan which shares the border with the state of Iowa. In addition to serving on the Rock County Soil Heath Team, he has partnered with agronomists in Iowa on Soil Health Practice Research and Promotion to Iowa farmers that may also have ground in Minnesota.

A GIS Strategy to Locate Vulnerable Fields and Prioritize BMP’s in Agricultural Landscapes Using the Daily Erosion Project (DEP)
Eduardo Luquin

Eduardo Luquin is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Iowa State University, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE). His primary research interests include water quality, agriculture, and soil erosion processes, actively participating in projects like the Daily Erosion Project (DEP) and the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF). Within these projects, he performs model testing and actively enhance conservation planning tools in collaboration with stakeholders to effectively address non-point pollution challenges

Harmful Algal Blooms in Iowa: A Multifaceted Approach to Understanding and Mitigating Risks
Lyndy Holdt

Lyndy received a degree in biology and environmental science from the University of Dubuque in 2021 where she was engaged in climate change research focused on measuring ecological impacts to the Mississippi River. In 2023 she graduated with a Master’s Degree in occupational and environmental Health from the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa. There, she worked in the Human Toxicology and Exposomics Laboratory as a part of the multi-disciplinary Iowa Healthy Lakes Initiative, studying human exposure to cyanotoxins and Iowan’s understanding, perception, and communications as related to harmful algal blooms. This work is being continued at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in the Great Lakes Region of northwest Iowa where she is currently serving a term as an environmental steward through the Green Iowa AmeriCorps program.

Two Dimensional Base level Engineering (2D BLE) in Iowa
Chris Kahle

Chris Kahle has been with the Iowa DNR Floodplain Mapping program since it was stood up in 2009 following the 2008 floods across Iowa. He assumed the role of Floodplain Mapping Coordinator in 2023, before that he was a GIS Analyst providing oversight of project groups as they worked to map the entire state following the 2008 flood. Chris has been with the Iowa DNR since 2002 and before that had various GIS related jobs after graduating from the University of Kansas with a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning.

Beyond Implementation: Monitoring and Management of Edge-of-Field Practices to Assess Effectiveness in the Alleman Creek Watershed
Gabriel Johnson and Lee S. Tesdell

Gabe Johnson is a PhD Candidate and Graduate Research Assistant in Sustainable Agriculture and Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University. His research, advised by Drs. Tom Isenhart and Michelle Soupir, focuses on design and effectiveness of edge-of-field practices (saturated buffers and denitrifying bioreactors) for removing nitrate from agricultural drainage water. He is responsible for monitoring and data analysis of the saturated buffers on the Tesdell Century Farm.

Lee S. Tesdell is the owner of Tesdell Century Farm in Polk County, Iowa. He is retired from Minnesota State University, Mankato, where he taught courses in the technical communication program. He has installed in-field and edge-of-field practices on his farm and was recently elected to the Polk County Soil and Water Conservation District as a commissioner.

Identifying PFAS Contamination in Various Waters in Iowa and its Influence on Iowan’s Drinking Water
Matthew Nagorzanski

Dr. Matthew Nagorzanski graduated with his PhD in environmental engineering from the University of Iowa in May 2023 with a focus on environmental sampling of pesticides. After graduating he accepted a joint postdoctoral research position between the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination and the State Hygienic Lab at the University of Iowa where he analyzes water samples from across Iowa for PFAS.

From Vision to Action: Reflecting on 5 Years of Progress in Watershed Planning and Strategies for the Road Ahead
Adam Rupe and Cara Marker-Morgan

Adam is a project manager and senior environmental planner for JEO Consulting Group. He leads watershed planning efforts across both Iowa and Nebraska, is an Iowa Master River Steward, a graduate of the Iowa Land Stewardship Leadership Academy, and is a Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner.

Cara joined Golden Hills RC&D in 2017 as the Watershed Coordinator and most recently promoted to Executive Director in 2022. As Watershed Coordinator Cara helped to develop the East and West Nishnabotna River Watershed Management and Flood Resiliency Plans which won the 2019 Iowa Chapter of the American Planning Association’s Environmental Planning Award. Cara is certified in grant writing, a Master Conservationist, Graduate of the Iowa Land Stewardship Leadership Academy, as well as a Community Heart and Soul Coach. Cara is the first ALUS coordinator in the United States.

Application of an Integrated Modeling System to Assess Nutrient Loss Mitigation Strategies for the Des Moines River Basin in Iowa
Philip Gassman, Tassia Mattos Brighenti and Yongjie Ji

Dr. Philip Gassman is an Environmental Scientist who has been engaged in research at the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University since 1987. His research efforts support the integration of environmental and economic models that assess policy scenario impacts for watersheds and other regions, and the testing of field- and watershed-scale models. He is currently involved in applications of the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model and related research for the NSF-funded Iowa UrbanFEWS project, USDA-funded Diverse CornBelt project and research funded by the Iowa Nutrient Research Center, among other ongoing research efforts.

Dr. Tássia Mattos Brighenti is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University. She is currently collaborating in the NSF-funded Iowa UrbanFEWS project and research funded by the Iowa Nutrient Research Center. Her work involves the use of the SWAT model to evaluate the environmental and agronomic performance of a suite of cropping systems, including row crops, and perennial grasses and/or horticultural crops, and best management practices, across multiple watershed scales in the Des Moines area.

Dr. Yongjie Ji is a research scientist at the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University. He joined the staff of CARD in 2016. His work at CARD involves land use modeling, non-market valuation modeling work, and interactive data visualization. He is involved in several projects including research funded by the Iowa Nutrient Research Center.

Relationships Between Water Quality and Livestock Density Across Iowa Watersheds
Daniel Haug

Dan Haug joined Ames-based non-profit Prairie Rivers of Iowa in 2017, working on watershed conservation, environmental education, GIS mapping, and water monitoring. When opportunities to interact with the public dried up during the pandemic, he learned how to write code in R to tackle more complex data analysis problems. He has an M.S. in Water Resources Management from University of Wisconsin.

The Challenges of Managing High Water Levels on Landlocked Basins: A Story From the VBWD
Jennifer Koehler

Jen Koehler is a senior water resources engineer with Barr Engineering Company. She has over 18 years of experience in water resources planning, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, water quality modeling, and design of flood mitigation projects and water quality BMPs. More recently, she has been involved in a variety of stormwater reuse projects.

A Statewide Assessment of Per – and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) IN Small Iowa Streams Affected by Varying Land Uses and Inputs
Kendra Markland

Kendra Markland is a Physical Scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey Central Midwest Water Science Center in Iowa City, Iowa. She is involved in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of water quality data.

Tracking Fecal Contamination and Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in Agricultural and Urban Streams in Iowa
Hanseob Shin

Hanseob Shin is a postdoctoral researcher currently working at Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination (CHEEC), with more than 7 years of experience on resistome and microbiome. He got a Ph. D degree at Gwangju institute of Science and Technology, South Korea in 2022. Since then, he has recently expanded research area into microbial source tracking and CRISPR spacerome analysis to track global antimicrobial resistance issues.

Quantifying the Impact of Iowa’s Flood Control Reservoirs on Nutrient and Sediment Loss
Elliot Anderson

Elliot Anderson is originally from Geneva, IL, and received his B.S. in Civil Engineering at Purdue University. For several years, Dr. Anderson worked as a Water Resources Engineer for a transportation consulting firm in Chicago. In 2019, Dr. Anderson joined the University of Iowa to complete a Ph.D and has continued to work as a postdoctoral researcher with IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering since graduating in 2022.

Using WEPP Watershed and Stream Data to Estimate Sediment Delivery Ratios and Nutrient Export from a Small Catchment in Iowa
Kelly Nascimento

Kelly Nascimento is an Agronomist and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University. Her research focus on erosion modeling, watershed management, and GIS applied to conservation planning.

Using Genetic Tools to Better Understand Iowa’s Microbial Water Quality Issues
Claire E Hruby

Claire Hruby, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Sustainability at Drake University. She teaches geology, hydrology, and soil and water monitoring. Her research focuses on a variety of contaminants in local watersheds that have impacts on human an ecosystem health.