2016 AGI Critical Issues Forum: Speakers

Addressing Changes in Regional Groundwater Resources: Lessons from the High Plains Aquifer
Hosted by the Payne Institute for Earth Resources, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO
October 27-28, 2016

Irrigation equipment. (Background: Copyright Shutterstock.com/Sergey Nivens; right: Copyright Shutterstock.com/Cecilia Lim H M)


PDF versionPDF version

Speakers & Moderators

Keynote Speakers:

  • Sharon B. Megdal, University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center
  • Merri Lisa Trigilio, Director/Producer - Written on Water
  • Jason Gurdak, San Francisco State University

Session Speakers & Moderators:

  • William M. Alley, National Ground Water Association
  • Jean Bahr, American Geosciences Institute
  • Ann Bleed, Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (retired)
  • Nicholas Brozovic, Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska
  • Rex Buchanan, Kansas Geological Survey
  • Jim Butler, Kansas Geological Survey
  • Elizabeth Eide, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
  • James Eklund, Colorado Water Conservation Board
  • Wendy J. Harrison, Colorado School of Mines
  • John E. McCray, Colorado School of Mines
  • Kyle E. Murray, Oklahoma Geological Survey
  • Susan Stover, Kansas Geological Survey
  • Steven D. Walthour, North Plains Groundwater Conservation District, Texas
  • David R. Wunsch, Delaware Geological Survey

Image of Sharon B. Megdal
Sharon B. Megdal

Director, University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center, Keynote Speaker

Sharon B. Megdal is Director of The University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center, an Extension and research unit in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She also holds the titles: Professor and Specialist, Department Soil, Water, and Environmental Science; C.W. & Modene Neely Endowed Professor; and Distinguished Outreach Professor.  Her work focuses on water policy and management challenges and solutions, on which she writes and frequently speaks. Current projects include: comparative evaluation of water management, policy, and governance in growing, water-scarce regions; groundwater management and governance; groundwater recharge; and transboundary aquifer assessment.  Sharon, who holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Princeton University, is active in several national water organizations and is an elected member of Central Arizona Project board, which is responsible for the rates, taxes, and policies of the largest surface water conveyance project in Arizona. 

Image of Jason Gurdak
Jason Gurdak

Associate Professor, San Francisco State University, Keynote Speaker

Dr. Jason Gurdak is an Associate Professor of Hydrogeology in the Department of Earth & Climate Sciences at San Francisco State University. He is Coordinator of the UNESCO-International Hydrologic Program called Groundwater Resources Assessment under the Pressure of Humanity and Climate Change (GRAPHIC). GRAPHIC is a global-scale research, education, and outreach program that addresses climate change and sustainability of global groundwater resources. Prior to joining SFSU, he was a Hydrologist for 11 years with the USGS. Dr. Gurdak has authored more than 50 publications in hydrology, including topics on the science and policy of climate change impacts and adaptation of groundwater resources. 

Image of Merri Lisa Trigilio
Merri Lisa Trigilio

Ph.D. Geoscience, Director/Producer - Written On Water, After-Dinner Keynote Speaker

Written on Water’s Producer and Director Merri Lisa Trigilio has an art degree in photography and film, and a doctorate degree in Geosciences from Penn State University. After fifteen years working as a geophysicist and later as a researcher in carbon sequestration, Merri Lisa found her way back to documentary storytelling. In 2012, she was a fellow at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC where she wrote and produced educational documentaries. She continues to explore science communication through the film medium, working as a freelance producer and director for educational institutions.

Image of William M. Alley
William M. Alley

Director of Science and Technology, National Ground Water Association

Dr. William M. Alley is Director of Science and Technology for the National Ground Water Association. He served as Chief, Office of Groundwater for the U.S. Geological Survey for almost two decades. Dr. Alley has published over 90 scientific publications and received numerous awards for his work, including the Meritorious Presidential Rank Award. He holds a B.S. in Geological Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines, an M.S. from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University.  He and his wife, Rosemarie, recently completed a general science book, “High and Dry,” on the world’s groundwater to be published in early 2017.

Image of Jean Bahr. Used with permission.
Jean Bahr

Jean Bahr has been on the faculty of the Department of Geoscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1987. She also participates in interdisciplinary graduate programs in Geological Engineering, Freshwater and Marine Sciences, and Water Resources Management. Her research focusses on the interactions between physical and chemical processes controlling solute transport and transformation in groundwater systems. She is current President of AGI and also an Editor of the American Geophysical Union’s journal Water Resources Research. She was the 2003 Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lecturer for Hydrogeology Division of the Geological Society of America (GSA) and served as GSA President in 2009-2010.

Image of Ann Bleed
Ann Bleed

Former Director, Nebraska Department of National Resources

Ann Bleed, Ph.D., P.E. Emeritus, is retired, but currently is director on the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District. For most of her career Ann worked at the State of Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, first as the State Hydrologist, then as Deputy Director, and finally as Director of the Department. While at the Department she also served as a Nebraska representative on the negotiating teams that settled two interstate water allocation lawsuits over the North Platte and Republican Rivers before the U. S. Supreme Court, and helped develop the Platte River Recovery and Implementation Program.

Image of Nick Brozovic. Used with permission.
Nick Brozovic

Director of Policy, Water for Food Global Institute, University of Nebraska

Nick Brozovic is Director of Policy at the Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska. He works to ensure that the Institute’s programs inform water management policies and decision makers. Brozovic has over 15 years of experience in water policy worldwide. A particular focus of his research is on evaluating policies and governance structures for agricultural water management, including water market design and implementation. He holds doctoral and master’s degrees in agricultural and resource economics from the University of California-Berkeley, a master’s degree in geology from the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree in geology from Oxford University.

Image of Rex Buchanan. Used with permission.
Rex Buchanan

Director Emeritus, Kansas Geological Survey, University of Kansas

Rex Buchanan is the Director Emeritus of the Kansas Geological Survey, based at the University of Kansas.  A native of Kansas, he is the co-author of Roadside Kansas: A Guide to its Geology and Landmarks  (rev. edition, 2010) and editor of Kansas Geology: An Introduction to Landscapes, Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils  (rev. edition, 2010), both published by the University Press of Kansas; and co-author of The Canyon Revisited: A Rephotography of the Grand Canyon, 1923-1991, published by the University of Utah Press (1994). He served as Secretary of the Association of American State Geologists and  chaired the Kansas Task Force on Induced Seismicity.  In 2008 he was named a fellow of the Geological Society of America and in 2016 received GSA’s Public Service Award.

Image of Jim Butler
Jim Butler

Senior Scientist, Kansas Geological Survey, University of Kansas

Jim Butler is a Senior Scientist and Chief of the Geohydrology Section of the Kansas Geological Survey at the University of Kansas, where he has worked since 1986. He holds a B.S. in Geology from the College of William and Mary, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Applied Hydrogeology from Stanford University. Jim was the 2007 Darcy Distinguished Lecturer of the National Ground Water Association and the 2009 recipient of the Pioneers in Groundwater Award of the Environmental and Water Resources Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Image of Elizabeth Eide. Used with permission.
Elizabeth Eide

Director, Board on Earth Sciences and Resources, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Elizabeth Eide directs the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources and Water Science and Technology Board at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The Boards oversee activities including energy and mineral resources; hazards; geotechnical engineering; geospatial and geographical science; and all issues related to water. Prior to joining the Academies in 2005, she was a research geologist for 12 years at the Norwegian Geological Survey. She is a Fulbright Scholarship recipient and was elected to the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters. She completed a Ph.D. at Stanford University and B.A. at Franklin & Marshall College, both in geology.

Image of James Eklund
James Eklund

Director, Colorado Water Conservation Board

James Eklund is the director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) and serves as Colorado’s interstate representative on the Colorado River. As a lawyer and a government official, Eklund is already a disappointment to much of his family on the Western Slope. He is redeemed in their eyes, however, because he drinks whiskey and fights over water (but never at the same time). As the Director of the CWCB, Eklund leads the state’s water policy, financing, and planning efforts. Eklund is a graduate of Stanford University and the University of Denver College of Law (neither of which, his father is quick to note, made him any better at cleaning ditches or irrigating pasture). The Upper Colorado River endangered fish he most identifies with is the Razorback Sucker because he thinks of himself as sharp but also somewhat gullible.

Image of Wendy J. Harrison. Used with permission.
Wendy J. Harrison

Professor, Geology and Geological Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

Wendy J. Harrison is a tenured Professor of Geology and Geological Engineering at Colorado School of Mines.  Her fields of scholarly expertise are in geochemistry and hydrology as well as geoscience education and she has published papers in topics that range from impact shock metamorphism in lunar materials, the formation of gas hydrates and their role in CO2 sequestration, metals uptake by trees in mined lands, and mitigating respiratory quartz dust hazard.  Dr. Harrison recently completed an appointment at the National Science Foundation as Division Director for Earth Sciences in the Geosciences Directorate. She currently serves as an academic advisor to the Petroleum Institute, Abu Dhabi and Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan.  Her work experience includes 8 years as a senior research geologist for Exxon Production Research Company in Houston, Texas.

Image of John E. McCray
John E. McCray

Professor and Head, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

John McCray is Professor and Head of the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department at Colorado School of Mines, specializing in hydrology, water resources, and water quality. He is currently Mines PI of the NSF Engineering Research Center for urban water, ReNUWIt, the first ERC for water. He is a member of the U.S. EPA Science Advisory Board, a Fellow of the ASCE Environmental and Water Resources Institute, and was a Fulbright Fellow to Chile for water resources. He earned his PhD in hydrology and water resources from the University of Arizona, and a BS in engineering from West Virginia University.

Image of Kyle E. Murray. Used with permission.
Kyle E. Murray

Hydrogeologist, Oklahoma Geological Survey, University of Oklahoma

Dr. Kyle E. Murray is a Hydrogeologist for the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) at the University of Oklahoma (OU).  His research covers a broad spectrum of topics in Oklahoma & the mid-Continent including water issues in the energy sector, regional water supply, contaminants of emerging concern (CEC), and wastewater reuse in the municipal and industrial sector.  He is a member of the Oklahoma City Geological Society (OCGS), Geological Society of America (GSA), National Ground Water Association (NGWA), American Geophysical Union (AGU), and the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) where he serves as an Associate Editor for Hydrogeology Journal.

Image of Susan Stover
Susan Stover

Outreach Manager, Kansas Geological Survey, University of Kansas

Susan Stover, P.G., is Outreach Manager at the Kansas Geological Survey. She worked in water policy, water resource planning and environmental remediation for the State of Kansas for 20 years, before joining the Survey in 2014. Her experience includes working with stakeholders on programs and policies to conserve the High Plains aquifer; organizing conferences on water and on teaching evolution; and hosting field trips for state legislators. She holds an M.S. in geology, University of Kansas, and a B.A. in geology, University of Nebraska. Stover is a Geological Society of America Fellow and vice-chair of GSA’s Geology & Society Division.

Image of Steven D. Walthour
Steven D. Walthour

General Manager, North Plains Groundwater Conservation District, Texas

Steve Walthour is the General Manager of the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District. He has 28 years experience in subsurface geology and groundwater management. Steve holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Arkansas and is a licensed professional geoscientist in the State of Texas (License No. 1582).

Image of David R. Wunsch. Used with permission.
David R. Wunsch

State Geologist and Director, Delaware Geological Survey

David R. Wunsch is the Director and State Geologist of the Delaware Geological Survey (DGS).  Dr. Wunsch formerly served as the Director of Science and Technology for the National Ground Water Association (NGWA), and as an associate editor of the journal Groundwater. He was the State Geologist of New Hampshire from 2000 to 2010, and is a Licensed Professional Geologist in Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Delaware. Wunsch served as President of the Association of American State Geologists (AASG), and is a member of the federal Subcommittee on Ground Water (SOGW), which developed a framework for monitoring the Nation’s groundwater resources. Dr. Wunsch is a Fellow of the GSA. He received the 1999 Outstanding Kentucky Geologist Award, and in 2014 the American Geosciences Institute’s Outstanding Contribution to the Understanding of Geoscience award.