Judith L. Meyer, distinguished research professor emerita in the UGA Odum School of Ecology, delivered the seventeenth annual Abel Wolman Distinguished Lecture of the Water Science and Technology Board. The lecture, “Flowing Water, In and For Cities,” took place on April 14 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC.
Meyer is an internationally-recognized aquatic ecologist, with a particular interest in urban rivers and streams and the role of headwater streams and riparian zones in river networks. Among her numerous honors are the 2003 Award of Excellence in Benthic Science from the North American Benthological Society, the Excellence in Teaching Award from the UGA Institute of Ecology in 2005, and the Creative Research Medal from UGA in 1988. She is a former President of the Ecological Society of America and was named one of 30 National Clean Water Act Heroes by the Clean Water Network in 2002. She helped found and direct the River Basin Center at UGA. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and serves on EPA’s Science Advisory Board and chairs its Ecological Processes and Effects Committee.
“We live in a rapidly urbanizing world whose cities depend upon but also profoundly impact flowing water ecosystems,” Meyer said, in describing the focus of her talk. “Headwater stream ecosystems are crucial capillaries of river networks, but these tributaries are poorly documented, often unnamed, under-appreciated, poorly protected, and particularly vulnerable to the impacts of urbanization. These impacts result in an ‘urban stream syndrome’ that has multiple symptoms and causes, many of which will be exacerbated under future climate conditions. Some municipalities have recognized these threats to the ecosystem services provided by flowing water and have pioneered approaches that reduce the impacts of urbanization on streams and rivers. These innovations provide benefits now and offer hope for the future.”
The Water Science and Technology Board (WTSB) is part of the National Research Council's (NRC) Division on Earth and Life Studies. The WTSB covers studies relating to the science, engineering, economics, policy, and social aspects of water resources. The Wolman lecture honors Abel Wolman (1892 – 1989), an engineer and professor at Johns Hopkins University who worked throughout his life to improve the supply of clean drinking water. Previous Wolman lecturers include former NSF director Rita Colwell, Luna Leopold, John M. Barry, John Cairns, and Peter Gleick.