ADA – A group of four East Central University professors will lead science-based water projects as part of the Oka’ Institute’s summer research program.


Leading undergraduates through the Summer Research Opportunity (SRO) projects are Kevin Blackwood, Dr. Jessica Brumley, Dr. Leah Dudley and Dr. Christine Pappas.


SRO is a program that encourages water-related research here at ECU. This year's projects will support good watershed management, address a growing concern in agriculture, study the importance of native pollinators on crop yield, and examine travertine as a possible water quality indicator.


“We are proud of this program that gives ECU professors and students the opportunity to conduct vital research,” said Susan Paddack, executive director of the Oka’ Institute. “The projects selected will collect data that is instrumental to our goal of protecting our water resources.”


Blackwood's project is “Using Travertine to Assess Past and Present Records of Water Quality from Spring-Fed Streams in the Arbuckle Mountains.” The intent is to geochemically analyze individual layers of Travertine to determine water quality.


Brumley's project is “Comparing Differently Managed Soils for Water Infiltration and Quality Changes.” During the project, experiments will be performed on differently managed core samples to identify infiltration and nutrient retention characteristics.


Dudley's project is “Watered Down” and will investigate the impact that native insects have on the crop yield of corn, beans and squash. This is funded by a Sciences and Natural Resources Foundation designated grant.


Pappas's project is “Evaluating Uses for Crushed Glass Collected from a Community Recycling Campaign” and will promote watershed management by exploring the potential uses of crushed glass in construction and artistic applications. A community glass bottle crushing campaign will be developed and implemented to keep glass bottles from going into the landfill and potentially reduce the need for sand mining.


Each project requires the professor to select one to two undergraduates to help with research. As a part of the final report, student researchers will prepare a summary of their work and what they learned through conducting the research. Interim project reports will be submitted on July 2, 2021, with final reports to be completed by Nov. 3, 2021.


Oka' The Water Institute at East Central University is in its fifth year of creating practical water solutions that result in long-term sustainable ecological management and economic development.

By Laura Brigger

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ADA – Oka’ the Water Institute at East Central University is committed to providing practical solutions to water issues all Oklahomans face at its fifth annual Water Sustainability Conference, a fact that is reflected in its diverse program of presenters.

“Water sustainability and economic prosperity are interwoven,” said Susan Paddack, director of the ECU-based Oka’ Water Institute. “So the education and presentations at this conference are relevant and timely to all citizens.”

Traditionally hosted on ECU’s campus, the 2020 Water Sustainability Conference takes place online this year in the interest of participant health and safety. Scheduled for September 22-23, the conference will be available as a live event on the Oka’ website at www.okainstitute.org. There is no cost to register for the virtual conference

The program for 2020’s virtual conference reads like a “who’s who” of water sustainability experts, featuring presentations by researchers and scientists, farmers and ranchers, water-related business leaders and lawmakers.

“I am excited about our agenda this year,” said Paddack. “We have outstanding speakers who will cover the full spectrum of water quality and quantity, plus discuss the value of water as an economic driver.”

Each of the two days of the conference features a keynote address during the luncheon portion of the program. On Tuesday, Chickasaw Nation Governor and ECU Distinguished Alumnus Bill Anoatubby and will present “Importance of Water to our State.” Wednesday’s luncheon features Braden Milford, Oklahoma’s winner of the 2018 U.S. National Stockholm Junior Water Prize on Designing a Novel Heavy Metal Bioremediation System.

Following is a complete roster of presenters for the 2020 Water Sustainability Conference:


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Tuesday, September 22 (Morning)

· April Richards, Bureau of Reclamation Research Program Manager, Small Business Innovation Research EPA

· Shoaib Shaik, Financial Operations Manager, XploSafe

· Tom Wavering, Tom Love Innovation

· Connor Cox, Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology


Tuesday, September 22 (Afternoon)

· Dr. Hank Jenkins-Smith, Director, National Institute for Risk and Resilience

· Three Oklahoma Leopold Conservation Award Recipients: Jimmy Emmons, Russ Jackson and Chuck Coffey

· Ken Wagner, Secretary of Energy & Environment, State of Oklahoma (water sustainability and soil health)

· Amy Seiger, Soil Health Coordinator, Oklahoma Conservation Commission

· Alan Peoples, Oka’s Watershed Coordinator


Wednesday, September 23 (Morning)

· Julie Cunningham, Executive Director, Oklahoma Water Resources Board

· Scott Thompson, Executive Director, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality

· Rob Singletary, General Counsel, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality

· James Gammill, Chief Executive Officer, Oklahoma Rural Water Association

· Trey Lam, Executive Director, Oklahoma Conservation Commission

· J.D. Strong, Director, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

· Jerry Winchester, Executive Director, Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department

· Legislative Panel including: Oklahoma Senator Greg McCortney, District 13; Oklahoma Senator Dave Rader, District 39; Oklahoma Representative Ronny Johns, House District 25

· Randy Norden, Federal Programs Director, National Rural Water Association


Wednesday, September 23 (Afternoon)

· Jason Lewis, Director, Oklahoma Water Science Center (Eastern Arbuckle Simpson Aquifer Hydrology Study)


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· Shana Mashburn, Studies Chief, Oklahoma-Texas Water Science Center

· Dr. Bruce Moring, Associate Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences, ECU

· Dr. Barney Austin, AquaStrategies (water issues in Kyrgyzstan)

· Dr. Rajit Patankar, Manager of Field Science, Domain 11 (Southern Plains) with National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) project at the Blue River


Other highlights of the conference include virtual tours of Paddlefish Research occurring at Oklahoma State University, water testing at ERT in Ada, and mobile fluid filtration manufacturing at CNI Manufacturing in Marietta.

“This conference continues to serve as a vital resource for bringing public interest, stakeholders and leaders together,” Paddack said. “It is a true collaboration on how science and public opinion can gain new strategies for sustainable water management, influence policy decision making and to explore new water technologies and innovation.”

Visit www.okainstitute.org/conference2020 to register for this important and free event.

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