In the Field | Alumni Who Keep Water Safe and Clean
Ysabella Bhagroo BS’18
“Restoring balance, enhancing beauty.” This is the mission of SOLitude, the lake management company where Ysabella Bhagroo works to enhance public understanding of water bodies and freshwater management. Having found joy and peace in lakes at a young age, Bhagroo was delighted to dive into a digital marketing specialist position at SOLitude after graduating with a degree in life sciences communication and East Asian studies. She says that CALS taught her how to set goals, maintain an impressive work ethic, strive to improve, and invest time in self-development and relationship building. Bhagroo’s experience at CALS motivated her to work in the science communication field to “preserve Earth’s natural habitats and clean energy sources.” She uses creative marketing, especially videography, to increase SOLitude’s exposure and searchability. For public education and outreach, Bhagroo creates content such as videos, ad campaigns, and newsletters about water body treatment. She recognizes the value of water bodies and strives to inspire others to be as passionate as she is about their conservation. Says Bhagroo: “Water is beautiful and mighty and freeing.”
Kajsa E. Dalrymple PhD’11
Kajsa Dalrymple grew up with a love for music and theater as well as the physical sciences. With this blend of interests, perhaps it’s no surprise she found her calling in environmental communication. Dalrymple is currently associate professor and director of graduate studies at the University of Iowa (UI) School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She’s also the director of the media, policy, and public opinion program at the UI Public Policy Center and a faculty associate at the university’s Water Sustainability Initiative at the Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research — Hydroscience and Engineering. In the past, Dalrymple has worked for various campaign development efforts and social marketing campaigns. No matter the job, Dalrymple says she has “always been driven by a goal of generating more meaningful relationships between individuals and social groups through mutual understanding and appreciation.” Because media influences how people perceive the world around them, it plays a major role in sustainability efforts. “I have spent the last decade working to better understand how media inform our understanding of the risks associated with water pollution and how different social groups work together to improve water sustainability,” Dalrymple says. However, her favorite work involves mentoring graduate students. She helps them develop similar passions for sustainability and apply their motivations to research. Outside of work, Dalrymple enjoys sharing her love for nature with her daughter as well as baking, gardening, swimming, playing tennis, and making music with her husband.
Eric Horsch MS’08
As a senior associate at Industrial Economics in Boulder, Colorado, economist Eric Horsch specializes in environmental valuation. He evaluates the damage caused by oil spills and the release of other hazardous materials into bodies of water. These events can cause changes in recreational visitation and may decrease the economic value of sites where they occur; Horsch analyzes these factors to estimate losses to tribal resources, public value, and water quality. He also assesses the potential benefits of restoration projects. “I enjoy working for public agencies and have had the opportunity to work on some high-profile oil spills — including Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico and Refugio in Santa Barbara, California — and hazardous waste sites around the country.” His job often includes applying primary data collection methods, which requires research skills that he honed while studying agricultural and applied economics (AAE) at CALS. “CALS provided me with rigorous technical training and taught me how to be a researcher,” Horsch says. He specifically acknowledges his AAE mentors — former assistant professor David Lewis and professor Bill Provencher — for playing pivotal roles in shaping his career. He says that his graduate research prepared him for the interdisciplinary work he continues today. When not working, he enjoys cycling, skiing, running, and spending time with his sons and wife.
Jojo O’Brien BS’13
Jojo O’Brien works as a water resource engineer for the city of Madison, Wisconsin. She designs and manages projects focused on maintaining and improving water quality, such as pond and drainageway projects, stormwater treatments, and flooding and emergency preparedness. She’s also involved in a green infrastructure pilot project. “I’m able to design innovative, cutting-edge water quality infrastructure; do research with the United States Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and complete outreach and education on water quality and flooding,” O’Brien says. Every aspect of her job involves public engagement, for which she has found a passion. It’s led her to create the content and story maps for the city’s flooding website and appear on multiple episodes of the city engineering department’s podcast, “Everyday Engineering.” O’Brien took on the water resource engineer role shortly after receiving a degree in biological systems engineering (BSE), when John Panuska PhD’06, a distinguished faculty associate in BSE, pointed her toward the opportunity. Away from work, O’Brien enjoys traveling, backpacking, paddling, biking, and gardening.
Stephanie Prellwitz MS’13
Stephanie Prellwitz is the executive director of the Green Lake Association, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the water quality of Big Green Lake, the deepest natural inland lake in Wisconsin. Although she didn’t plan on diving into a career in water quality, she found passion and success in working with people to develop strategies to address local environmental issues. Prellwitz views every day as an opportunity to learn, and she enjoys that her job allows her to delve into a variety of fields and topics, including social science, limnology, strategic planning, and phosphorus cycles. “I work closely with many partners to coordinate research programs with universities throughout the region, implement best management practices in the watershed, and execute other components of a lake restoration plan.” UW–Madison is one of Prellwitz’s partners, and she is currently working closely with professor of biological systems engineering Anita Thompson to solve water quality issues on Big Green Lake. “My experiences and professional connections from CALS have been paramount in my professional life,” Prellwitz says. Apart from playing a major role in the health of her local ecosystems and community, Prellwitz also enjoys gardening, helping manage her family’s strawberry farm, and traveling, which includes camping on the beautiful shores of the Great Lakes.
Daniel H. Smith MS’16
Daniel Smith grew up spending countless days on his grandparents’ farm in northern Illinois, where he determined at 5 years old that he wanted to work in agriculture as an adult. Years later, after earning his bachelor’s degree in crop and soil science from UW–Platteville, Smith completed a master’s degree in agroecology, with a focus on weed science, at CALS. He says he gained invaluable skills through CALS, such as conducting field research, interpreting results, collaborating with other researchers, and presenting results to public audiences. He uses these skills every day in his current position as a field agronomist for the Nutrient and Pest Management Program at UW–Madison. Here, he helps producers improve farm profitability and water quality through nutrient management and conservation planning. “My favorite part of the job is working with the great people who work in Wisconsin agriculture and helping to make a difference improving farm profitability while reducing environmental risk,” he says. Smith also volunteers as a crops team coach. He mentors students in the agronomy department on crop, pest, and weed identification and grain grading. Outside of the professional agriculture world, he enjoys golfing, woodworking, gardening, and spending time with his wife, Danielle, and their dog, Stanley.
About In the Field
The CALS graduates highlighted here represent the depth and breadth of alumni accomplishments. Selections are made by Grow staff and are intended to reflect a sample of alumni stories. It is not a ranking or a comprehensive list. For more about CALS alumni, visit cals.wisc.edu/alumni.This article was posted in Healthy Ecosystems, In the Field, Summer 2020, Working Life and tagged agricultural and applied economics, Agroecology, Alumni, biological systems engineering, Daniel H. Smith, Eric Horsch, Jojo O’Brien, Kajsa E. Dalrymple, Life Sciences Communication, Stephanie Prellwitz, Water quality, Ysabella Bhagroo.