In May during the SWS Annual Meeting at JASM 2022, we welcomed Bill Kleindl as President of SWS along with our new President-Elect Susan Galatowitsch. Get to know our new SWS leaders below:
Meet Bill Kleindl, SWS President
Bill has more than 30 years of academic and consulting experience within public and private sectors in the science, policy, and management of aquatic environments, including extensive experience in the assessment, restoration, and management of degraded wetlands and rivers across multiple scales. The goal of his career has always been to provide a straightforward analysis of ecological data to facilitate a translation for management applications to solve tangible problems that intersect natural and human environments. At Montana State University, he focuses his research on assessment and management questions that address combined anthropogenic and natural disturbances and how these drive aquatic structure, function, and services.
Q&A with Susan Galatowitsch, SWS President-Elect
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and why you’re excited to be the next SWS president.
A: I joined SWS in the late 1980s when I worked for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and was involved in environmental permitting. SWS has been important to me professionally throughout my career–early-on as someone trying to navigate new realities of permitting and mitigation and then through my career as a university professor, networking with other wetland scientists and providing my students with great opportunities for launching wetland careers. Serving on the SWS Executive Board is an opportunity for me to contribute to an organization that’s been vital to me. And the timing was great, since I recently stepped down from being head of my department at the University of Minnesota (Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology).
Q: What’s been your primary focus as a wetland scientist?
A: Both my research and teaching at the University of Minnesota have been centered on advancing ecological restoration–particularly for wetlands. Prairie pothole revegetation has been a long-term research interest, since my graduate work at Iowa State, advised by Arnold van der Valk. After completing my PhD in 1993, I joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota. Since then, my research team has focused on ways to improve three aspects of wetland restoration practice: 1) revegetation of sedge meadows and littoral marshes, 2) invasive species control and 3) evaluation of restoration feasibility and project outcomes.
Q: Is working with students (future wetland scientists!) a big part of your position at the University of Minnesota?
A: Yes, in several ways. The courses I regularly teach–wetland ecology and restoration ecology, attract students from diverse fields–including planning, landscape architecture, engineering, and natural resources. Interest in these courses are strong year after year, so I can build multi-disciplinary teams that reflect real-world problem-solving. Those courses provide a “pipeline” into agencies that hire wetland scientists. Also, over the course of my career, I’ve advised about 30 MS and PhD students–nearly all have been focused on wetland restoration. It’s been terrific to see the impact they’ve made, as professionals and academics.
Q: What led you to become a wetland scientist?
A: I grew up in the industrial expanses extending from the southern margins of Chicago. The aquatic ecosystems of my youth were gravel pit swimming holes and the I & M Canal, which divided our town in two and was considered to be a deadly corridor. The canal’s real or imagined levels of pollution stoked a folklore tradition in my community that made an early impression on me. I felt compelled to figure out how to fix environmental damage. I pursued a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology at St. Mary’s College in Winona, Minnesota, a town on the Upper Mississippi River. The river was central to my undergraduate experience--classroom, recreation, and my first professional opportunities. After my junior year (1983), I was hired by Dr. Carl Korschgen of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be part of his waterfowl research team based in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, just downriver from Winona. Carl’s team was investigating why the number of migrating canvasback ducks using Upper Mississippi River wetlands was declining. Based on my interest in wetland plants, Carl encouraged me to go to graduate school and focus on aquatic botany.