Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative names new Director

Author: Alex Gumm


Professor Jennifer Tank has been named the new Director of the University of Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative (ND-ECI), starting January 1, 2016.

Since its inception, Tank has been actively involved at ND-ECI, serving as the Research Lead for the Land Use Program, the Director of the Notre Dame Linked Experimental Ecosystem Facility (ND-LEEF), and she was the Interim Director during the 2014-15 academic year.

“My involvement with ECI over the past 5 years has expanded the breadth and depth of my own academic scholarship," said Tank. "It has been wonderful to see ECI’s translational impact flourish under Professor David Lodge’s expert leadership. Moving forward, I am thrilled to have such an amazing opportunity to continue to grow our innovative research around environmental change at Notre Dame and beyond.”

Tank is the Ludmilla F., Stephen J., and Robert T. Galla Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame. Her research focuses on nutrient and carbon cycling in streams and rivers, and her recent efforts have been to quantify the effects of conservation practices on water quality in the agricultural Midwest.

Her research team is exploring the use of innovative techniques to improve sustainable agriculture by working with farmers to minimizing negative effects on freshwater and livelihoods downstream. Tank is leading the new Indiana Watershed Initiative Project funded through the USDA Resource Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which includes partnerships with The Nature Conservancy, local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, County Surveyors and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.

One overarching theme of her research is to improve the health and nutrient removal efficiency of streams and rivers draining cropland in the agricultural Midwest through implementation of watershed-scale conservation.

An international authority on the cycling of nutrients in freshwater ecosystems, Tank has published >120 peer-reviewed journal articles on the ecosystem ecology of streams and rivers. Her research working with farmers to improve water quality in agricultural streams was recently featured as part of the University of Notre Dame’s 2015 “What Would You Fight For?” series.

She received her PhD from Virginia Tech and was a 2013 Leopold Leadership Fellow and was also awarded the James A. Burns CSC Award for Graduate Education at Notre Dame.

Tank takes over the director position from Professor David Lodge, who founded the Environmental Change Initiative in 2009. Lodge will leave Notre Dame this summer to begin his role as director of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell University, in Ithaca NY.

“I am delighted to hand over the reins of ECI to Jen Tank," said Lodge. "Her passion for world-class research that can be applied quickly embodies ECI’s motto of ‘science serving society.’  I look forward to seeing ECI’s impact inside and outside the academy grow even more prominent under Jen’s leadership."