Moos Family Speaker Series


Since 2010, Freshwater and the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences have co-hosted a free stimulating lecture series on water and the environment. The lectures, known as the Moos Family Speaker Series on Water Resources, honor the late Malcolm Moos, president of the university from 1967 to 1974. The series brings together influential experts on a broad array of topics and pairs a nationally known speaker with a panel of regional experts. They present the latest research on timely and important issues through an accessible—and often entertaining—presentation.

Our spring 2022 Moos speaker was Dr. Janice Brahney!

Watch "Why is it raining plastics?" recorded Wednesday, April 13


Dr. Janice Brahney is an associate professor at Utah State University. She received her doctorate in environmental biogeochemistry from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and holds a master’s degree in earth science and a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, both from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada.

Her research sits at the intersection of atmosphere and earth, focusing on how the atmosphere is a pathway for materials to enter surface waters, as well as the cause, effect, and mitigation of water quality impairment.

Much of Brahney’s work has produced results with far-reaching implications for policy, land-use regulation, and ecosystem monitoring.

Her research has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Geographic, Scientific American, and NPR, and she has been a guest on several podcasts including Big Picture Science and Quirks and Quarks. Brahney is currently an associate editor for Freshwater Science.

Where are atmospheric plastics coming from?

Microplastics are raining down from the sky
By Janice Brahney

Microplastic waste has become so prevalent in the environment that it is being picked up and transported by the wind and the rain. We linked plastic fallout rates with air-mass movements to understand where plastics are coming from, how far they are travelling, and how much of them is raining out of the sky. Continue reading in the Science Breaker.

Opinion: You're probably inhaling microplastics right now
By Janice Brahney

Read this story at The New York Times


woman smiling

Elizabeth Minor

Dr. Elizabeth Minor, a professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, holds a doctorate in marine chemistry and geochemistry. Minor joined the Large Lakes Observatory in 2005, and her research is about carbon cycling in aquatic systems.

Minor looks at the organic material that gets eaten in lake systems, the inorganic carbon released by respiration and fixed with photosynthesis, and how that inorganic carbon acts as a buffer stabilizing pH against inputs of acids (such as acid rain or acidic mine waste). In studying natural organic matter in these systems, she also found unnatural organic matter—in other words, microplastics. Since then she has also been working to characterize microplastics in the water, fish, and sediments of lake systems.

Researchers have found plastic microfibers in water, in sediment, and in fish stomachs, but they're still investigating what happens next. Minor and her lab group are working to measure the amount of smaller plastic particles in the environment so that toxicologists can use the data in their studies.

Read more about Minor and her work in this recent blog post.

smiling man

Wayne Gjerde

As the recycling market development coordinator with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Gjerde consults with startup and expanding companies in the areas of finance, new product development, business plan development, sales,  and marketing. Gjerde has also done extensive work in economic analysis linking the environment and economy, and spoken at many local and national recycling events.

Gjerde has more than 40 years of experience in market development, financial analysis, banking, new business start-ups, sales, marketing, new product development, customer service, consulting, business development, extended producer responsibility, and management. Gjerde has worked in the private and public sector, and is a current board member of the National Recycling Coalition.

Wayne earned his Bachelor of Science in business administration at St. John's University-Collegeville, Minnesota. He also has attended the Minnesota Bankers Commercial Lending School and Robert Morris Associates Commercial Lending School.

Thanks to our spring 2022 sponsors!


Metropolitan Council

Board of Water and Soil Resources logo

Minnesota Department of Health

Minnesota Environmental Quality Board


Capitol Region Watershed District