News Apr 16, 2008
Science/Medicine/Health Pacesetter: Joseph Ryan
Joe Ryan. View Large
Morning commutes, for most workers, are the antithesis of productivity. But for Joseph Ryan, a University of Colorado professor in the department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, the opposite is true. It was during his daily drive to work -- from Ward to CU's Boulder campus -- that he noticed abandoned mines scattered along the hillside and started thinking about how his expertise in water quality might relate.
Turns out, there are quite a few ways Ryan's knowledge can affect water in the hills near his home: He's helped protect the James Creek water supply from vehicle-caused erosion; his analysis of acid-mine drainage for the Lefthand Watershed helped residents clean their water supply; and data he collected helped raise millions to revitalize water sources.
"It took me a few years driving back and forth to work before I realized there were all those old abandoned mines," Ryan said. "And it never registered, until I heard about the Jamestown initiative, that they were dealing with the problem of off-road vehicles using the road next to James Creek."
Once Ryan realized, however, that vehicle erosion was pushing sediment into the water supply and mine drainage was affecting water-purity levels, he was quick to help.
So quick, in fact, that his colleagues, community members, government officials and political leaders think he's been a pacesetter in Boulder's science community.
"I was excited," Ryan said about winning a 2008 Pacesetter Award in the Science/Medicine/Health category. "It's a big boost. It will get me through another decade doing this stuff."
And Ryan said he has big future plans to address community needs with help from CU researchers and students. In fact, he'd like to help people outside Boulder County, too.
"I would like to develop something where we could be a resource for groups dealing with water quality problems," Ryan said. "We'd like to be a place people can come for water advice from all over the state."
It's Ryan's enthusiasm for community outreach that makes him a pacesetter for Boulder, his colleagues said.
"He embodies, for our campus, the model for how to effectively integrate teaching and research with the local community," according to the two women who nominated Ryan for the award: Anne Heinz, dean of CU's Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies; and Dorothy Rupert, CU-Boulder outreach committee member and former state legislator.
By Vanessa Miller (Friday, January 25, 2008) Contact Camera Staff Writer Vanessa Miller at 303-473-1329 or email@example.com
News Source: Boulder Daily Camera
ENVS Faculty: Joseph Ryan
ENVS News Category: Media Story
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Environmental and climatic history, human ecology in North Atlantic and Arctic regions, syntheses of proxy climate records, historical records of sea-ice incidence, imagology of the north.