In the spring, many plants and animals in the Great Lakes return from migration or awaken from hibernation. But the Great Lakes ecosystem works year-round, and so do the International Joint Commission’s Great Lakes advisory boards. The boards expect to finalize several projects in 2022, with a handful of recently appointed leaders and members.
After more than 12 years of service, including eight as US co-chair of the Great Lakes Science Advisory Board-Science Priority Committee (SPC), Dr. Carol Miller turned over the co-chair reigns to Dr. Lucinda Johnson, University of Minnesota Natural Resources Research Institute research director.
Outgoing Science Advisory Board-Science Priority Committee US Co-chair Dr. Carol Miller; incoming Science Advisory Board-Science Priority Committee US Co-chair Dr. Lucinda Johnson
“The Science Priority Committee plays a crucial role in providing best-available scientific advice on critical Great Lakes issues to help governments make informed decisions,” Miller said. “I am proud of the board’s work over the years. Our board conducts many deep-dive scientific investigations that depend on the support of our board members who are extremely bright and devoted volunteer experts.”
SPC members are predominantly nongovernment scientific experts, and the board provides scientific advice to the IJC and its Great Lakes Water Quality Board. Johnson leads the committee along with SPC Canadian Co-chair and McMaster University Professor Dr. Gail Krantzberg.
“I learned a lot about the board and leading its group of Great Lakes science experts from Dr. Miller, and I look forward to continuing the great progress we’ve made over the last several years,” said Johnson, an SPC member since 2014.
The SPC has several projects underway, including one to develop analytical approaches to detect new stressors and threats to the Great Lakes, expected to be complete by the end of the year.
The Commission also recently appointed Dr. Bob Sterner, director of the Large Lakes Observatory and biology professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, as a new member of the SPC. An expert in large lake ecology, Sterner will provide an update on the state of algal blooms in Lake Superior during an April 26 webinar hosted by the Lake Superior Partnership.
Meanwhile, the Great Lakes Science Advisory Board’s Research Coordination Committee is preparing to release its final project that provides a framework for a Great Lakes surface water-groundwater hydrological model, fulfilling a recommendation from an earlier report on the topic.
The Great Lakes Water Quality Board (WQB) is the principal adviser to the IJC under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The board’s new report offers recommendations to improve government regulations on the retirement of nuclear power plants and better protect Great Lakes water quality.
The newest member appointed to the WQB is Dr. Brian Tucker, manager of Métis traditional knowledge and land use for the Métis Nation of Ontario and ecologist.
The WQB is working on projects that build on past reports, such as piloting a Manure Nutrient Management Collaborative to put the board’s past recommendations into action, and conducting further analysis of results of the board’s 2021 Great Lakes Regional Poll of public opinions.
To complement the skills of practitioner members of the Health Professionals Advisory Board, the Commission appointed experts in health statistics and environmental engineering. Ron Gravel brings 25 years of research management experience to the board as director of Centre for Population Health Data of Statistics Canada. Also joining the ranks is Dr. Heather Murphy, University of Guelph associate professor and Tier II Canada research chair in One Health, whose expertise transects water quality, treatment and global health.
Earlier this year, the Health Professionals Advisory Board published its Phase 2 report examining the influence of environmental factors, like weather, on the risk of getting a stomach bug from treated Great Lakes drinking water. The board expects to publish a white paper later this year to share the findings of its collaborative research with the Great Lakes Beach Association about beach monitoring and management practices.
Finally, the IJC Great Lakes Regional Office in Windsor, Ontario, added a new staff member in late 2021. Dr. Rajendra Poudel is an economist who will be supporting all the Great Lakes advisory boards on social and economic aspects of ongoing projects.
Allison Voglesong Zejnati is public affairs specialist at the IJC’s Great Lakes Regional Office in Windsor, Ontario.