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Research conducted at UW-Stout presented at U.S. Capitol

Alexis Econie presents her research on water quality in the Red Cedar River watershed to Congressman Rodney Davis (R-Ill) on Capitol Hill. Photo courtesy of UW-Stout

Research conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Stout by Illinois State University student Alexis Econie was viewed at the U.S. Capitol in April. Econie conducted her study in the summer of 2016 at UW-Stout as part of the LAKES research experience for undergrads, a program funded by the National Science Foundation. The program works to solve the water quality of the issues of the region through dozens of research projects by students from all over the country. Econie's research focused on water quality in the Red Cedar River watershed in west-central Wisconsin. She looked into landowners who rent farmland to farmers in the area, and when and why they require conservation practices.

Econie presented her research, entitiled "Power in Connectivity: Social Capital and BMP Lease Agreements," to members of congress at Posters on the Hill, an annual event in April that is sponsored by the National Council on Undergraduate Research. The event featured 60 research posters by university students from around the country, selected out of hundreds of applications.  Econie's research was one of three posters from UW System schools.

Econie was accompanied by UW-Stout Associate Professor of Social Science, Nels Paulson, her research adviser and co-director of the LAKES program. 

"Two of her main findings were that when nonoperating landowners are politically engaged in local nonprofit organizations and when they discuss the yields from their land with their farmers they are much more likely to require such conservation practices in their lease agreements," Paulson said. Researchers believe that better conservation practices are a factor in cutting the phosphorous load in the watershed's lakes, rivers, and streams and thereby in reducing toxic blue-green algae blooms in the summer.

"My LAKES experience provided me a platform for hands-on environmental stewardship and cemented my dedication for pursuing a career in environmental sociology," said Econie. "Because of the LAKES REU, I know that I have the drive and capacity to make a positive change through academic research."

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