RESS Program Announces 2016 Keynote Speaker

Posted on 7/15/2016 8:44:03 PM

The Research Experiences for Summer Scholars Committee would like to announce the selection of this summer’s RESS keynote speaker. Anne Jefferson, an associate professor in the Department of Geology at Kent State University, will delight the audience with “Stopping Stormwater: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Improving the Urban Environment.”

The keynote address will kick off the RESS Poster Session at 2:00 p.m., with the student poster presentations starting at 3:30 p.m. in the HUB’s Ohio Room on August 4, 2016.

Keynote Abstract:

Streams in urban areas are often said to suffer from “urban stream syndrome” resulting in degraded geomorphology, biogeochemistry, and ecosystem function. Uncontrolled or poorly controlled stormwater is a root cause of many of the symptoms of urban stream syndrome, so understanding how stormwater management options affect in-stream processes is important for creating sustainable urban streams.

Today’s approaches to stormwater control include green infrastructure distributed throughout the watershed and more centralized stormwater control ponds and wetlands located near the stream.

How well do these approaches reverse the symptoms of urban stream syndrome? In this talk, Jefferson will suggest that the answer depends on the framing context and processes at work.

In terms of context, watersheds and stormwater management efforts are situated within a particular natural landscape (climate, soils, etc.); relative to urban development (age and style of development, type of infrastructure); and within the social context of environmental attitudes and economic constraints and incentives. Processes upslope of stormwater controls that affect water quantity and quality and processes within the controls themselves, such as mixing, infiltration, and residence time, exert significant influence on how urban stream hydrology and water quality respond to stormwater inputs. Where stormwater ponds and wetlands (SCMs) are large inputs to a stream, they can impart distinct water quality signals, but such SCMs are unlikely to restore pre-development stream water quantity and quality.

Distributed green infrastructure shows promising reductions in peakflows and total stormwater volumes at the neighborhood scale, but challenges remain in scaling up to enough projects to make a difference at the watershed scale and in ensuring that variability in construction and maintenance don't reduce the effectiveness of the green infrastructure.

Finally, stormwater problems and solutions exist within a social context, where getting community buy in and support may be closer to a wicked problem than the science and engineering.


Anne Jefferson is an associate professor in the Department of Geology at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. Jefferson is a Leshner Leadership Institute Public Engagement Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2016–17. Jefferson’s research focuses on urban watersheds and stormwater management, hydrologic responses to climate variability and change, and landscape evolution. The goal of her research is to improve the resilience and sustainability of water resources and aquatic ecosystems in the Anthropocene.

Jefferson engages in interdisciplinary collaboration with ecologists, social scientists, engineers, and architects. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Geological Survey, among other organizations.

Jefferson earned a PhD in Geology from Oregon State University in 2006. From 2007–12, Jefferson was an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Jefferson has been an associate editor of the Geological Society of America Bulletin, and she is actively engaged on Twitter as @highlyanne.

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics