On a Mission
Sometimes, I lie awake at night, my head abuzz with new research plans and strategies for IIHR. And yes, at times, I worry. So much is riding on our efforts—better water quality for Iowans and the environment, improved flood resilience, a sustainable water future for everyone, and so much more.
But more often, I simply can’t turn off my thoughts and go to sleep because I am so incredibly engaged with this work. I feel that we have an obligation to make a difference in the world. This is both a privilege and a responsibility. Our work juxtaposes important local impact with true global significance. I believe Iowa can be a test bed for new ideas and strategies that can be expanded to a much larger scale.
A good example is our work in the area of water quality. How can we balance the needs of our agricultural economy with the very human need for clean water and a healthy environment? IIHR is uniquely qualified to help solve this problem. Working with landowners and other stakeholders, we’re helping develop new strategies and approaches that can help us move toward a future in which a healthy ag economy co-exists with improved water quality.
Early in 2016, we got the exciting news that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would award $96.9M to the state of Iowa for flood infrastructure projects and a statewide watershed improvement program, the Iowa Watershed Approach (IWA). IIHR and the Iowa Flood Center played (and will continue to play) a key role in developing the program, writing the grant, and coordinating efforts with our many partners to reduce flood risks, increase community and watershed resilience, and improve water quality and the quality of life for Iowans in nine watersheds. We’ll have more information on this transformational project in the weeks, months, and years to come.
More and more, I feel a sense of urgency as we address these issues. Can we find solutions in time? For me, the answer is clearly yes. IIHR is an amazing engine of innovation and imagination. If we approach our challenges with humility, tolerance, and courage, I believe we can find the way. Along with my colleagues at IIHR and our partner organizations, I am prepared to dedicate all my energy, intellect, and vision to improving water access, quality, and sustainability worldwide.
To do any less would be a failure of the intellectual spirit.
I hope this whets your appetite to learn more. Check out this video about IIHR produced for Iowa Magazine. I also invite you to explore our annual report/magazine, IIHR Currents, which tells the stories of research and service at IIHR. If you’d like to receive a copy of IIHR Currents or if you have thoughts about these efforts to better tell the stories of IIHR, please email me. I look forward to hearing from you!