From the Director 2020

I won’t mince words – COVID-19, societal reckoning with racial inequity, and widespread social upheaval have made for a challenging and disheartening year for each and every one of us.

A recurring theme of this newsletter is the many ways that the Center for Limnology (CFL) adapted to the reality of ‘socially distanced science.’ We offered ‘virtual’ summer undergraduate research fellowships. Our famous limnology course (Zoology 315) went online. We shifted to all-digital outreach, launching a popular Q&A blog series for kids called ‘Water We Talking About?’ And I’m pleased to report that the science still happened. We safely conducted key field sampling for the North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research (NTL-LTER) program, as well as other high priority projects. All of this is a testament to the amazing and adaptable folks at the CFL. People rose to the occasion.

As COVID-19 dragged on, there were numerous occasions where we realized the benefits of being virtual. For example, with the shift to Zoom, attendance at our weekly Wednesday lunch seminar increased notably. Moreover, we’ve been able to feature an especially diverse and international slate of speakers – speakers that would have been out of reach for in-person programming. Undoubtedly there will be aspects that we carry forward in the post COVID-19 world. We’re looking forward to that.

2020 has been a remarkable year for the CFL in terms of transitions. Olaf Jensen made the move from Rutgers to UW-Madison as a new faculty member. Zach Feiner joined the CFL as a fisheries research scientist in July. Aaron Nolan is our new Hasler Lab Manager. And we will soon welcome Grace Wilkinson as our newest CFL faculty member. With the recent onboarding of Hilary Dugan (Professor) and Gretchen Gerrish (Trout Lake Station Director), the last few years have been a period of unprecedented change and growth at the CFL.

I’ll close with a warm ‘thank you’ to the many generous alumni, friends, and donors who have financially supported the CFL during the past year. Individual donations allow us to sustain our impact, pursue innovative research projects and train the next generation of freshwater leaders. We couldn’t have done it without you. Please don’t hesitate to drop me a note and an update.

Jake Vander Zanden
Wayland Noland Distinguished Chair
Director, Center for Limnology
University of Wisconsin-Madison