The Current


June 2019

Dominique Ashe

Student Spotlight

Dominique is a San Francisco-born nature lover who came to CSU for its environmental programs. As a Human Dimensions of Natural Resources major, she began her water journey with a graduate level course taught by CoWC Director Reagan Waskom her sophomore year, which furthered her desire to engage in water management.

She promptly added the SWIM minor to her portfolio, delving into the world and professions of its sustainable uses. For her senior project, Dominique worked with the local Peaks to People Water Fund to highlight their collaborative public engagement efforts across Fort Collins’ companies, community members, and resource agencies. Dominique graduated in May and hopes to attend graduate school in public administration or environmental law in the next few years. Until then, she continues gaining experience in water management and sustainability consulting around the Front Range.

MaryLou Smith

Staff Spotlight

After 10 years of exceptional service to the CoWC and the Colorado water community, MaryLou is retiring from CSU on June 30. MaryLou has served as a policy and collaboration specialist, designing and facilitating group processes for stakeholders working through complex water policy issues throughout Colorado and the West.

Her efforts include the formation and leadership of the Poudre Runs Through It Study/Action Work Group (PRTI) and Water Literate Leaders of Northern Colorado. Much of her work has centered on agricultural/urban/environmental water sharing strategies, groundwater/surface water conjunctive use challenges, and the integration of land use policy with water supply policy. To plant a seed to increase the ethnic diversity of voices in Colorado water policy decision making, MaryLou launched CSU Water Sustainability Fellows in which CSU students of color learn about water issues and share that information with similar students in North Denver communities through a National West Center Youth Water Project. MaryLou previously served 35 years as the vice president and co-founder of Aqua Engineering, Inc., an irrigation engineering firm with projects worldwide. MaryLou grew up on a cotton and alfalfa farm irrigated with groundwater in eastern New Mexico. She earned a master’s degree in educational psychology from New Mexico State University. She also served twelve years on the City of Fort Collins Water Board and has given presentations on her work in places as diverse as Tehran, Iran; Fortaleza, Brazil; and Wray, Colorado.

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Spotlights Archive

Alyssa Anenberg

Student Spotlight

Alyssa is a Master’s candidate in Watershed Science in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability at CSU. Prior to her graduate studies, she received her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences with a minor in Sustainability from California State University, Chico. Her current research—which was recently awarded at Hydrology Days—focuses on linking snow persistence and biogeochemistry in mountain regions and understanding the associated impacts of climate change on catchment hydrology.

Alyssa is currently working on a project to determine how climate warming directly affects snowpack dynamics in the western United States, and how it results in decreased snow cover and earlier snowmelt. The goal of her research is to understand how the duration of snow persistence affects soil moisture across an elevation gradient and how this gradient in snowpack affects soil water nitrogen. She is working at three research sites in the Colorado Front Range to monitor snow, soil moisture, and soil water nitrogen. Her hope is that this research will increase our understanding of how changes in the duration and quantity of snowpack affect the supply of soil water nitrogen in these mountain regions.

Cary Weiner

Staff Spotlight

Cary Weiner is the State Energy Specialist for Colorado State University Extension and Director of CSU’s Rural Energy Center. He works with Extension agents and other partners across the state to determine and meet educational needs related to sustainable energy. His work includes making public presentations on home energy, farm energy, and electric vehicles; conducting community energy assessments; hosting a Local Government Energy Academy; developing web content and online decision tools for sustainable energy; and conducting economic feasibility assessments for on-farm solar.

In a recent USDA-sponsored project called Farm Assessments for Solar Energy (FASE), Cary and his team conducted 60 economic feasibility assessments for irrigated farms, feedlots, and other agricultural operations in Colorado—many of which are rely on water. One participant has installed a solar array to reduce energy use for pumping water, while other participants are now applying for grants to do the same. With the cost of solar dropping significantly in recent years, a federal tax credit for solar, and federal and state grants for on-farm renewable energy projects, the project aimed to give agricultural producers an estimate of their returns on investment from solar. Cary is driven to identify opportunities like these where local economic benefits could be gained while reducing climate impacts. Learn more about Cary and his efforts at, and visit CSU Extension’s Your Energy Colorado website for more information about sustainable energy in Colorado.

Hannah Harrison

Student Spotlight

A senior at CSU, Hannah studies Ecosystem Science and Sustainability and is a SWIM student. She comes from Bainbridge Island, WA, which fostered her deep appreciation for both the happiness- and life-giving properties of water. Living in a place surrounded by water impressed on her just how necessary water resources are and how often they can be overlooked, even in environmentally-conscious communities. When she first came to CSU, she quickly realized just how passionate she is about environmental water quality and water resources.

After her sophomore year, Hannah became a research fellow with Central Michigan University and spent the summer of 2017 at a remote biological research station on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan. While there, she conducted field work, lab testing, and statistical analyses on the changing ecology of Lake Michigan, focusing on the transition of algae from the pelagic to benthic zone. This research is important in understanding why changes in the lake’s greater food web are occurring and how they impact surrounding communities. When she returned to CSU, she began work on her honors thesis by getting involved in Dr. Stephanie Kampf’s lab. With Dr. Kampf and PhD candidate John Hammond, Hannah conducted a water balance comparison for headwater catchments across an elevation gradient in Northern Colorado by analyzing data from five different watersheds. Most hydrology research in dry states such as Colorado is conducted at high elevations, and much less is known about how much streamflow comes from lower elevations. However, lower elevation streams cover most of Colorado’s land area and may have significant, poorly quantified contributions to total state water yield. Because of the proportionally low amount of research conducted on lower elevation streams, studies such as this may help dry states calculate their water yield with increased accuracy.

Kelly Jones

Staff Spotlight

Kelly Jones is an Associate Professor of Ecological Economics in the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources. She addresses social-ecological systems questions related to human impacts on the environment and in turn, how environmental change affects society. In Colorado and Mexico, Kelly is collaborating with physical and ecological scientists to generate evidence on how novel watershed governance partnerships can contribute to water security. This includes understanding what factors lead to the emergence of watershed partnerships; evaluating the impacts of financial investments on economic and social outcomes; and assessing tradeoffs and synergies in the protection of multiple ecosystem services. Jointly these efforts are informing how watershed partnerships prioritize their investments in order to optimize their environmental, economic and social outcomes. Specifically, within Colorado, the research team is using the knowledge generated from their project to develop a spatial decision support tool that can be used by stakeholders to prioritize where to invest in wildfire risk mitigation activities for water security. Her research team in Mexico has used their findings related to environmental, economic and social impacts of watershed partnerships to develop a series of future scenarios, and engaged stakeholders through a role playing workshop to determine what changes they would like to make to existing watershed programs in order to enhance outcomes. More details on these research projects and others can be found at her website,