Carolyn Voter will be charged with compiling the annual report the state Groundwater Coordinating Council submits to the Legislature.
By Aaron R. Conklin
Groundwater brought Carolyn Voter to Wisconsin, and groundwater is what’s kept her here. It’s also the centerpiece of her latest career step: Voter, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is set to become the first Wisconsin Water Resources Institute Policy Fellow.
The newly created position will be shared with and housed within the structure of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Voter will be charged with analyzing statistical data, compiling information and creating the annual report the state Groundwater Coordinating Council (GCC) submits to the state legislature detailing the results of groundwater research funded by WRI and DNR and other state agencies.
“Interagency cooperation is the cornerstone for groundwater protection in Wisconsin,” said Mary Ellen Vollrecht, the DNR’s Groundwater Section Chief for the Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater. “The new Water Resources Fellowship builds on that base. Carolyn’s background and energy are sure to get the fellowship off to a strong start. DNR appreciates this initiative of the Water Resources Institute and will strive to maximize the benefits to all agencies --and all Wisconsin water consumers.”
Jennifer Hauxwell, WRI’s assistant director for research and student engagement, agrees.
“Carolyn has a strong background in hydrology and familiarity with the Groundwater Coordinating Council’s Joint Solicitation for groundwater research,” Hauxwell said. “She also brings great enthusiasm and positivity toward tackling the difficult challenge of both understanding and protecting a hidden resource – our groundwater.”
Voter, who was born in New Jersey and received her undergraduate degree from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, was inspired by stream restoration work she became involved with there, and was drawn to Wisconsin in part because of the UW’s interdisciplinary hydroecology research programs. As a PhD student, Voter worked on multiple WRI-funded research projects with UW-Madison professor of engineering Steven Loheide, including a project that examined the ways in which urban design impacted an area’s water budget.
“I’m excited about the policy angle,’ said Voter of her new position. “I’ve had a lot of consulting experience, but I haven’t had a chance to do much policy.”
Voter already knows several of the issues that will be an integral part of the challenges associated with maintaining or enhancing the quality and quantity of the state’s groundwater resources: chemical and biological contaminants and dozens of factors that affect water supply and demand.
“An important part of what I’ll be doing is figuring out how to communicate science to non-scientists,” she said.
Voter begins work in her new position on July 27. In her spare time, Voter likes to run, spend time with her dog and check off activities on her “Madison bucket list.”