Fellows Highlight: Madeline Magee

Monday, July 2, 2018

   NE CASC Postdoctoral Fellow Madeline Magee studies how Wisconsin lakes are changing under the effects of climate change and land use. After receiving her Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Wisconsin Madison, she continued her works as a postdoctoral research assistant in fellow NE CASC investigator Pete McIntyre’s lab. In addition she works with the USGS Center for Integrated Data Analytics.

   “In Wisconsin, everyone lives within 20 miles of a lake” she says, and she can’t recall a person she knows who hasn’t cast a line into the waters of Wisconsin. The value of these lakes goes beyond recreation; “they are an economic and cultural resource to the people in this community.” Climate Change and development threaten the health of these lake ecosystems, and could alter fish populations, water clarity, and biological diversity. 

    That’s part of the reason she has committed herself to the modeling of the changes in these lakes in recent years.  Working in a collaborative partnership with Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR), a partnership that began from the ground up, she is developing a comprehensive tool for stakeholders to predict changes in their lakes and identify the actions they could take to maximize sound resource management decisions.

   She is ideally suited to the task both in commitment and experience.  Her engineering background gives her insight to the dynamic interplay between biology, chemistry and physics, and has experience in how to design and implement practical solutions for the stakeholders in the region.

   Understanding the needs and limitations of community partners and lake associations, Magee partnered early on with DNR to build a comprehensive system and database that would be user friendly and provide assessments of lake ecosystem health and management.  She is working to complete over 100,000 hours of computer modeling, creating 10 terabytes of raw data before the end of the year. Once the project in completed, partners can use the information she has compiled with additional datasets to guide lake management in the state. 

In the longer term, she is hoping to compile an online graphic user interface, which could be open to the public, allowing individual stakeholders to have access to the data and assessments they need without needing a PhD. She also foresees this lake modeling graphic interface being used as an educational tool, used in undergraduate universities, and being applied by researchers beyond the region.  In the meantime, her local partners are appreciative of the new tools being developed by Madeline and her commitment to understanding the changes in the waters they seek to preserve.    

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Written by Communications Intern Mike Crowley