Political knowledge, public opinion, and policymaking (mentor Kimberly Zagorski)
Mixed methods projects will look at the intersection of information flows, scientific literacy, policymaking, and public attitudes related to drinking water in Dunn County. The goal is to understand how (mis)information regarding science, behavior, and public policy impact the ability of stakeholders to enact policies designed to maintain clean drinking water. Public opinion surveys, interviews and/or focus groups of Dunn County residents will be used to understand knowledge and concern about water issues, scientific literacy, and trust in local and state actors. Content analysis of news sources and local social media groups will identify the information the public and policymakers are exposed to regarding drinking water. Interviews with journalists and social media groups will clarify what types of problems and solutions make it to these outlets. Finally, interviews with local interest groups and county, state, and local government officials will highlight their policy goals and how they use information to achieve them.
Water Quality, Nutrient Dynamics, and Cyanobacteria Blooms (mentor Nicole Hayes)
This project will explore nutrient dynamics and harmful cyanobacterial blooms in the surface waters of the Red Cedar Watershed, building on ongoing work by researchers at UW-Stout. Students will have the opportunity to learn sample collection and analysis techniques and to help guide monitoring efforts by identifying areas prone to pollution due to surrounding land use, are sites of in-stream and surrounding habitat restoration or are slated for future habitat improvement projects. These ongoing monitoring efforts seek to collect more, better-targeted data needed by county officials and practitioners to improve water quality in the Red Cedar Watershed.
Engineering of Remediation and Monitoring Strategies (Mentor Devin Berg)
This project will investigate some of the many possible remediations available to address environmental pollutants within the Red Cedar watershed. The challenge of watershed remediation also provides ample opportunity for the development of smart, connected, electro-mechanical devices. Such devices could provide automated environmental monitoring and data collection, distributed across the watershed, as well as provide responsive platforms for the growth of treatment wetlands with greater efficiency and resiliency. Student projects will research, design, and prototype solutions for watershed remediation and monitoring.
Ethnography of Phosphorus Mitigation Governance and Community Capacity (Mentor Tina Lee)
This project will use ethnographic methods(including participant observation, interviewing, oral history interviewing, and document analysis) to explore the policy landscape and community capacity. Student projects will focus on how state and local government officials have responded to recent changes in policy, staffing, and funding. In addition, we will gather data about organizations and actors outside of government who play a role in shaping how famers manage their land: crop and dairy consultants, implement dealers, seed companies, loan and insurance agents, and farmer organizations. Finally, research will continue to explore community capacity including how, why, and in what ways community stakeholders are engaged or disengaged in working towards a stronger community and better water quality in the Red Cedar Basin.