Volume 3 2011

Phil Moy. Photo: Carolyn Betz.

Program and People News

Moy Named Assistant Director for Research

Phil Moy is the new assistant director for research for the Aquatic Sciences Center (ASC). In this role, Moy will assist in monitoring the progress of Wisconsin Sea Grant’s 42 currently funded research projects and the Water Resources Institute’s nine; identify new areas for research, incorporating those into strategic plans; and oversee the activities of the Sea Grant marine advisory services staff.

Moy holds a Ph.D. in zoology-fisheries from Southern Illinois University and has been on the Wisconsin Sea Grant staff for 12 years, serving as the marine advisory specialist on fisheries and aquatic invasive species.

He also served as acting director for outreach and research twice—while the then-director of research had been on leave to work in the NOAA National Sea Grant Office and since February of this year.

“My time here has been very rewarding, and I look forward to applying my experience to the challenges offered by the assistant director position,” Moy said. He noted that the program has opportunities to chart new directions, particularly since two longtime Sea Grant outreach specialists retired in June. “This will catalyze us to determine some possible new focus areas for our outreach efforts,” he said.

Change aside, some things remain stable, Moy said. “We look forward to continuing our good working relationships with Great Lakes and Sea Grant partners, and reaching out to constituency groups—existing and new.”

Moy is also committed to the ongoing productive collaborations with state agencies, the departments of Natural Resources, Health Services and Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; academic communities; resource managers; and water professionals in the private sector.

“This is an important position for ASC. Phil’s accepted offer to lead our research grant-making program that funds Wisconsin’s premier aquatic scientists, and our team who shares that science, is good news,” said Anders Andren, Wisconsin Sea Grant director.

Lubner Retires From UW Sea Grant After Three-Plus Decades of Service

When Jim Lubner arrived for his first day with Wisconsin Sea Grant, he had no idea he’d be spending the rest of his career with the organization.

The year was 1978, and he was the first employee at the program’s new Milwaukee field office, located in the building that now houses the modernized UW–Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences.

And by “office,” we mean a half-height cubicle partition in the middle of a former loading dock.

“UW Sea Grant would not be the organization it is today without Jim Lubner’s critical contributions,” said Director Anders Andren. “It’s very hard to imagine it without him.”

Right after he got the job, Lubner told one of his advisors at UW–Milwaukee about the Sea Grant gig. The response? “Well, that’s okay… until a real job comes along."

“I had more hope for it than that,” deadpanned Lubner.

It didn’t take long for his hope to be rewarded. Lubner began taking advantage of small professional connections that ended up making a big difference.

In his first year, Lubner worked with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary to implement a boating safety curriculum in the greater Milwaukee area. In the 1980s, he and the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Office in Milwaukee created easy-to-understand guidance on the regulations for charter boat operators and implemented a voluntary Coast Guard inspection program for their vessels.

Later, Lubner landed a spot on the Milwaukee County Local Emergency Planning Committee. He noticed that many of the city’s industries had nothing in place to prevent toxic materials from flowing through the storm sewers directly into Milwaukee’s lakes in the event of a chemical spill.

“Today, we don’t even need to ask the question,” said Lubner of the safety covers that are now routinely provided for the drains. “Sometimes, these little things end up having a big influence.”

Lubner is grateful for UW Sea Grant’s support over the years. “The key to Sea Grant has always been about people and connections,” Lubner said. “We’ve had less rigidity and a lot of support over the years.”

In another of his proudest accomplishments, Lubner became a mentor for the Marshfield High School National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) team that made history by winning NOAA’s science contest three years in a row.

Lubner holds adjunct academic status with the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences and plans to remain involved with the annual Lake Sturgeon Bowl, the regional competition that feeds into NOSB. And, of course, spend some time camping, hiking and traveling with his wife, Linda.

“I’ve had so many opportunities to travel to interesting places, lakes and oceans and to work with so many amazing people,” reflected Lubner. “It’s been an absolutely wonderful career.”

Harris Retires From UW Sea Grant

After 37-year career working to preserve and improve the environment in Wisconsin

Vicky Harris has always loved Lake Michigan. She remembers boating the stagnant and befouled waters of the Fox River with her family, wearing rubber gloves her mother made the children wear to keep them from touching the slime molds and bacteria on the lock walls.

When she retired in June, she ended a 37-year career devoted to protecting and restoring the environment in and around Green Bay. Those who worked with her know her as a tireless dynamo, a coalition-builder routinely steering multiple projects at once. Last year, the Nature Conservancy honored Harris and her longtime collaborator, former UW Sea Grant sub-programmer and husband, Bud Harris, with a lifetime achievement award.

“Vicky is a part of that select group that works tirelessly and effectively to preserve and improve the environment in Wisconsin,” said Anders Andren, UW Sea Grant director. “She made it her personal and lifelong mission, and her tireless work ethic is a genuine inspiration to all of us.”

Harris became UW Sea Grant’s first Green Bay-based water quality and habitat specialist early in her career. Although she only stayed for two years, two of her earliest projects were crucial to her future—working with scientists and stakeholders to develop the first-ever ecosystem research and outreach strategy for Green Bay and an ecosystem rehabilitation plan for the bay. Later she would use this experience to coordinate the Green Bay and Fox River Remedial Action Plan (RAP) for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR).

“We were the first of 43 RAPs in the Great Lakes to be approved by the International Joint Commission,” said Harris. “We created a series of technical and stakeholder committees, and we engaged a lot of people. The RAP was a launching pad for the largest PCB cleanup in U.S. history. ”

When Harris returned to Wisconsin Sea Grant in 1999, she brought with her the process of public engagement she’d used throughout her career, including a decade of assistance to the port of Green Bay on plans to restore Green Bay’s Cat Island Chain.

She also chaired an outreach team to involve the public in a total maximum daily load project for the Fox River, a WDNR plan to curtail phosphorous and suspended solids levels in the waters where she’d boated as a child.

More recently, Harris, working in conjunction with the Wisconsin Marina Association, has spearheaded Wisconsin’s Clean Marina program, a statewide effort designed to promote environmentally responsible boating and marina management practices. In the first year and a half, a whopping 28 marinas have joined the program and 11 were certified as clean marinas by adopting the program-required practices.

Don’t expect Harris to disappear from Green Bay’s environmental scene.

“I enjoy working with people who care about the future of our planet and our environment,” said Harris. “I don’t expect I’ll ever give it up.”

Wisconsin Leads in Mercury Research at Halifax Conference

The Tenth International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant was held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in July. Previous conferences were held in Sweden, Canada, Germany, Brazil, Japan, Slovenia, China and Madison, Wisconsin, in 2006. The four organizers of the Wisconsin conference were among the more than 1,000 experts to attend the Halifax meeting.

Some of the world’s top mercury researchers are based in Wisconsin. They have worked with public health and resource management agencies to set the standards in the collection, measurement, analysis and evaluation of mercury in water, air, sediments, fish, wildlife and people.

The Great Lakes region was the subject of a special session at the Halifax conference because of its significant in the understanding of mercury as a worldwide pollutant. The region is particularly vulnerable to mercury contamination because of the granite bedrock, thin acidic soils, abundant wetlands and lakes with low nutrient concentrations.

The Madison Declaration on Mercury Pollution, passed at the Wisconsin conference, summarizes the scientific and technical conclusions of the international experts on environmental mercury pollution. It continues to serve as the scientific foundation for U.S. policy-making on mercury reduction. The 2006 conference was co-hosted and sponsored by Wisconsin Sea Grant.

The Aquatic Sciences Center is the administrative home of the
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute & University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute.

©2011 University of Wisconsin Board of Regents