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The River is the Classroom

The Mississippi River flows just beyond the buildings on the University of Minnesota’s East Bank where my office is. Most days, as I have done throughout my 16 years here, I walk along the river to the classrooms where I teach. It would be hard to find a person on campus who doesn’t share a nostalgic fondness for the river as we glance at it, drive over it, and jog and bike across it. We are happy to claim the river under the bridges, across the…

Lab on the River – Snapshots of the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory

The St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL), which falls under the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota (UMN), is one of several historic buildings along the Minneapolis riverfront. Constructed in 1938 using funds from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), SAFL utilizes the 50-foot elevation drop over the St. Anthony Falls to bring water into the building for use in experiments and research of fluid dynamics…

Fields: The Transformation and Healing of the Whitewater Valley

They say hindsight is 20/20. Farmers of the past didn’t have information about environmentally friendly agricultural techniques. The farming techniques used today to reduce erosion and other negative environmental effects were developed as we learned from agriculturally derived disasters. Situated in the Whitewater River Valley less than 10 miles from the confluence with the Mississippi River, Beaver, Minnesota was one such town that suffered…

The Future of Agriculture in a Water-Rich State

In 1920, Minnesota held 2.4 million people and 132,744 farms. Corn production was near 100 million bushels per year. By 1929, 18.5 million acres were under cultivation. Nearly 100 years later, the state has 5.4 million people, 74,500 farms, and 26 million acres of farmland. Annual production of corn is about 1.5 billion bushels and soybean is about 380 million bushels. Over that century, agricultural technology and infrastructure changed profoundly…

Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center

The Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC) was founded in late 2012 when the Minnesota legislature and the University of Minnesota took a leadership role in the fight against aquatic invasive species (AIS) and created our interdisciplinary, innovative, and forward-thinking Center. This initiative was led by Dr. Peter Sorensen, a well-known invasive carp researcher who is still working with the Center on several projects…

NRRI’s Systems Approach to Minnesota Water Challenges

Water equals life, and in Minnesota especially, clean water equals quality of life.  As one of our state’s most prized resources, the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) takes water seriously.  Founded in 1983 by the state legislature, NRRI was established to balance economic development of natural resources with environmental sustainability. Applied research solutions for water challenges…

On The Uncompromising Hand: Remembering Spirit Island

Drawing as Imagining Absence: Sometime prior to 1963 a person sat down at a table to draw a map. This person could effectively communicate with lines across a page, possessing the technical skills of rendering exact scale ratios of a three-dimensional space on a sheet of paper. The task of this artist was to draw a blueprint that would be used to harness a river for industrial use.