Who we are

Faculty and Staff


Darrell became Professor and Chair of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering in July 2015 and Director of the Institute of Water Research in February 2017.  From 2012- 2015 he was at Maine Maritime Academy as Vice-President-Operations and Research Director.  Darrell began his academic career in 1995 at the University of Maine (UMaine) and was there for 17 years last being professor of chemical engineering and Associate Director of the Forest Bioproducts Research Institute and was affiliated with the Maine Water Research Institute in research. Prior to UMaine he was a process engineer with a private company for nine years between his BS and PhD degrees.

Most recently, Darrell has worked in the realm of food safety, lending his expertise in statistics, modeling and simulation to issues related with chemical and microbial risk assessment.  He was an AAAS Fellow in 2007-08 at DHS focusing on security and health affairs and still consults with the government on security issues related to risk assessment.  He has served on three NAS and international panels addressing food safety.  He currently serves as a consultant to two WHO tendered food safety committees. Darrell received his BS, MS and PhD from NC State University.  He is an outdoors person; growing up on a farm in NC gave him a unique perspective and important respect for stewardship of the outdoors.

Assistant Director

Jeremiah Asher is the Assistant Director/Director of Information and Decision Support Technology at the Institute of Water Research and has an extensive background in geographic information systems (GIS), project management, decision support system development, and natural resource management. His research focus is on web/GIS application development and is the chief architect and designer of the nationally awarded North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program for Pasquotank Watershed, the nationally awarded Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool interface for the State of Michigan’s new Water Legislation, and the Social Indicators Data Management and Analysis tool for managing social indicators for the improvement of water quality, a multi-state (Region 5 EPA) effort supported by EPA’s NPS 319 program. His most recent activities and research are focused on developing the Great Lakes Clean Communities Network, groundwater credit trading, and wetland treatment of nutrients.


Vicki Anderson is a natural resource specialist with a background in field and watershed level conservation planning and implementation. Prior to joining the Institute of Water Research, she worked for the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). During her 33 year career with NRCS, Vicki developed and managed the Certified Conservation Planner program; served as River Basin Coordinator for Southeast Michigan, the Thunder Bay River, and the Grand River; and delivered training throughout Michigan based on the Department of Environmental Quality book “Developing a Watershed Management Plan for Water Quality: An Introductory Guide” to which Vicki was a contributor. She is currently facilitating the Michigan Natural Resources Working Group which is a partnership of federal, state and local agencies and organizations with an interest in conserving Michigan’s natural resources.  Vicki also served as project manager for the “Flint River Nutrient Reduction: Focusing Action” project which was funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The goal of the project was to increase technical assistance capacity in the watershed to reduce soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP). 


Jon Bartholic retired as Director of the Institute of Water Research in 2017. He joined the Departments of Crop and Soil Sciences, Resource Development, and the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station in 1978 as Professor. He later became Director of the Institute of Water Research and Coordinator for the Center for Remote Sensing. Dr. Bartholic has worked closely with MSU colleagues, state and federal agencies, and internationally on water quality and quantity issues and has authored many publications and presented at conferences. He testified before Congress in support of the federally mandated Water Resources Research Institutes Program. He has received numerous awards during his career including the Education and Public Service Award presented by the Universities Council on Water Resources; the John Hannah Award for Program Excellence; and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District, “Commitment to Excellence” award. He contributed significantly to the design and implementation of a series of MSU Virtual University Watershed Courses and has mentored numerous students as chair or member of theses and dissertation committees. Jon will continue to work with the Michigan Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society as President and facilitate networking among the Institute, University and Society members. He and his wife, Elaine plan to spend time at their upstate New York cottage and spend time traveling and enjoying family.

Outreach Specialist

Ruth Kline-Robach is an Outreach Specialist at the Michigan State University Institute of Water Research and Department of Community Sustainability, with expertise in community-based water resources management programs. For nearly 25 years she has provided training programs and technical assistance related to groundwater protection, watershed management planning and storm water management to communities throughout Michigan and across the Great Lakes region in cooperation with other Land Grant institutions and state agencies.

Graduate Student

I’m a first year in the community sustainability masters program (I haven’t picked a focus yet). I am leaning towards Great Lakes research, maybe policy, maybe even international water policy. Anything water related. Before graduate school I worked at the Saginaw Bay Environmental Science Institute, and am continuing similar work at the IWR. I am involved in the “Cooling the Hotspots” project, more specifically setting up water quality monitoring in the River Raisin for the purpose of informing farmers and seeing how the data might change their perspectives on adopting best management practices.

GIS Specialist

Dr. O’Neil has served as an Environmental Scientist and GIS Specialist for the Institute of Water Research at Michigan State University since 2005. He has utilized his skills in environmental modeling and web development to lead or assist numerous water quality and quantity projects in the Great Lakes Region. Those efforts include the development of HIT, an online tool to quantify erosion and sedimentation risk across the Great Lakes Basin and prioritize conservation efforts, the Great Lakes Watershed Management System, the State of Michigan’s Water Use Reporting system, and the Social Indicators and Data Management Analysis System, which is used to measure awareness of and attitudes towards water conservation. He also led the modeling efforts for a USDA-sponsored project exploring climate change impacts on hydrology in southwest Michigan, and led the coordination of local conservation district staff in a comprehensive field evaluation of sedimentation risk in Clinton, Huron, and Lenawee counties of Michigan.

GIS Specialist

Jason’s primary work at the IWR has been the development of online GIS applications, such as the Mid-Michigan Health Impact Assessment Tool, the Michigan Sensitive Areas Identification System and the Michigan EnviroImpact tool to help ensure sustainable decision-making at local and regional levels.  He also has worked on the development of the Great Lakes Clean Communities Network and conducted hydrologic modeling in southwestern Michigan using the USGS’s AFINCH model. He completed both his B.S. in Geographic Information Science (2011) and M.S. in Geographic Information Science (2014) at Michigan State University. When not thinking about GIS applications, Jason enjoys cycling, reading, and fishing.


Frank consults part time with IWR, offering policy and strategic advice and counsel on major IWR projects.  Frank is retired from the State of Michigan where he capped a career of over thirty years as a leader in natural resource and environmental policy including positions Departments of Environmental Quality and Natural Resources, as an attorney for the U.S. Department of the Interior and as Executive Director of the West Michigan Environmental Council. He has provided program and policy direction on a broad array of issues including Great Lakes and water management, environmental protection, public lands, and fish and wildlife resources. In addition to his role with IWR, Frank is currently an instructor with the Great Lakes Leadership Academy housed at MSU. Frank holds Juris Doctor and Master of Science degrees from the University of Michigan. His undergraduate degree in Political Science is from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. He is a member of the Michigan and Wisconsin Bars.

Research Specialist

Saichon has extensive background in economic analysis, environmental valuation techniques, and household surveys and data analysis. Her areas on interest include water resources, ecosystem services, climate change impacts and adaptation, and sustainable resource management. She has over 20 years of experience in both private consulting firms and academic institutions with projects focused on South East Asia and North America. She received her PhD in Natural Resource and Environmental Economics from Oregon State University.

Water Quality Specialist

Lois Wolfson, PhD, is a Water Quality Specialist with the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and Institute of Water Research at Michigan State University. She also serves as the State Water Quality Coordinator for MSU Extension. Her outreach work focuses on educational programming in lake ecology and watershed management, volunteer monitoring in aquatic systems, and utilizing decision support systems for addressing critical water issues. Her research interests are in invasive species and cyanobacteria blooms and their impact on ecosystem health. She teaches an upper level course in Field Techniques in Aquatic Systems. Wolfson is co-principal investigator on several projects funded through the US Geological Survey, Great Lakes Protection Fund and EPA’s GLRI. She was part of the NIFA Great Lakes Regional Water Program from 2001-2013. Wolfson received her MS in Botany and PhD in Fisheries and Wildlife from Michigan State University.

Research Associate

Laura Young contributes significantly to a number of initiatives at the Michigan State University Institute of Water Research. She conducts trainings and provides user support for various online tools developed at the Institute, including the Great Lakes Watershed Management System and the Sensitive Areas Identification System. She also assists with project management, software testing and user evaluations. Her research interests include evaluating outcomes from environmental decision support systems and understanding ways to improve communication about modeling and its inherent uncertainty between researchers and stakeholders working on complex environmental issues. She is starting a graduate program in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University. She holds a B.S. in Environmental Studies and Agriscience and a B.A. in Russian from MSU.


United States Geological Survey (USGS)

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD)

National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR)

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ)

Michigan Association of Conservation Districts

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR)

Michigan State University AgBio Research

Michigan State University Extension (MSUE)

Universities Council on Water Resources

Michigan Sea Grant

Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Michigan State University Water Science Network

North Central Region Water Network

The Nature Conservancy

Michigan Farm Bureau

Michigan Water Environmental Association

Michigan Chapter, North American Lake Management Society

Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership

Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership

Michigan Lake and Stream Associations

Tri-County and Regional Planning Commission

American Water Resources Association

Flint River Watershed Coalition