2023 MN Water Resources Conference awards

November 29, 2023

Water Resources Science graduate program coordinator Tracy Fallon presented the Deborah L. Swackhamer Early Career Award to Madeline Nyblade. The award recognizes the achievement of early career scientists and professionals as they pursue their work in the management and care of water resources. Nyblade is earning a PhD in the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences, pushing the boundaries of hydrology, tackling challenges faced by Minnesota tribes. Her work focuses on protecting Manoomin (Ojibwe)/Psin (Dakota) or wild rice, which has deep spiritual significance to indigenous people. Nyblade’s process incorporates hydrological science and Indigenous knowledge. “Through this research and beyond, Maddy is committed to advancing justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, particularly to stop and reverse harms inflicted by settler academic institutions on indigenous peoples,” said Fallon.

In accepting the award, Nyblade expressed her admiration for Swackhamer’s work and thanks to her advisors, Crystal Ng and Mike Dockery. “Because of my advisors and our tribal University team, I’ve had the opportunity in my PhD to conduct relationships that are in science and computer science in a way that I didn’t actually know was possible when I started, but I knew I was called to do and it was how I wanted to do science all along.”

Dave Ford award recipients Mark Doneux and John Nieber flank Deb Swackhamer awardee Madeline Nyblade.

The Dave Ford award went to two recipients this year. WRC Director Jeff Peterson presented the first award to John Nieber, (Bioproducts and Bioengineering U of M, WRS faculty) in recognition of his dedication to rigorous classroom teaching, research findings across many topics, including storage volume and Minnesota landscapes. Nieber mentored hundreds of students and also served as the Director of Graduate Studies for the Water Resources Science graduate program. Accepting the award, Nieber thanked his colleagues and the University as well as state and federal agency partners as he worked in hydrology, water quality and irrigation drainage-related projects. 

John Bilotta (Senior Research and Extension Coordinator with the University of Minnesota’s Water Resources Center) introduced the second award recipient Mark Doneux from the Capitol Region Watershed District. Doneux recounted his working relationship with Dave Ford from Doneux’s early days at the watershed district. Ford was generous with his expertise, helping Doneux to solve local flooding in the 1990’s, and together they tracked flooding lake levels, creating updated FEMA flood maps to protect properties. “So getting the Dave Ford award is very significant and meaningful to me.”


Research poster by Anu Wille
1st place: Anu Wille, University of Minnesota  Hydrological transport and persistence of chronic wasting disease in Minnesota
Research poster by Hannaan Shire
2nd place Hannaan Shire, University of Minnesota:  Flood and drought response planning and private wells