The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) has named Ohio scientist Heather Raymond as director of its new Water Quality Initiative. She began her appointment Sept. 1.
Raymond, a national leader on policies and responses regarding harmful algal blooms, joins CFAES from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, where she was state harmful algal bloom (HAB) coordinator and lead hydrogeologist. She was also recently elected to serve on the National HAB Committee.
Harmful algal blooms are the often pea-green, sometimes-toxic slime outbreaks plaguing water bodies including Lake Erie.
“We’re fortunate to have recruited someone with so much expertise and experience in water quality,” said Gary Pierzynski, CFAES associate dean for research and graduate education.
Raymond is a lead scientist with more than 20 years of experience “championing innovative, data-driven” water quality programs and policies, Pierzynski said, and is especially adept at building partnerships and communicating science.
The CFAES Water Quality Initiative, launched this summer, is aiming to expand the college’s impact on Ohio’s pressing water quality issues, harmful algal blooms being one of them.
Guiding the new initiative are the recommendations of a task force created by Cathann A. Kress, Ohio State vice president for agricultural administration and CFAES dean.
Currently, more than 140 CFAES faculty and staff are working on programs related to water quality, representing the largest concentration of such expertise in Ohio. Harmful algal blooms, stormwater runoff, drinking water safety, and septic systems are some of the many areas of focus.
“I’m so excited to join such an amazing team,” Raymond said.
As leader of the initiative, Raymond will support and leverage the team’s work, will coordinate with other water quality-related programs at Ohio State, and will build stronger ties to water quality programs elsewhere in Ohio, including at agencies and other universities.
One of Raymond’s main goals, Pierzynski said, will be to “translate the valuable research that we do into applications that have a positive impact on water quality.”
Raymond will also help grow connections between CFAES faculty and stakeholders and, by organizing forums and other events, will take a lead role in bringing people together—scientists, students, policymakers, and others—to discuss key topics in water quality.
She said she is looking forward to collaborating with CFAES’ “outstanding and dedicated” faculty and staff, including its educators with Ohio State University Extension.
OSU Extension, CFAES’ statewide outreach arm, has educators in each of Ohio’s 88 counties and, through the initiative, is in the process of hiring six additional county educators to work specifically on water quality.
Raymond has an executive MPA, an MS in hydrogeology, and a BS in geology, all from Ohio University.
The Water Quality Initiative’s website is at waterquality.osu.edu.