Water Resources Management Graduate Brings Lifelong Passion for Lakes to Great Lakes Commission-Sea Grant Fellowship

June 1, 2018

Jack Cotrone, Water Resources Management, University of Wisconsin-Madison

A lifelong affinity for the Great Lakes comes naturally to Jack Cotrone, a new graduate of the master’s program in water resources management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  A native of suburban Detroit, Cotrone enjoyed summer visits to his grandmother’s place on Lake Huron.  And whenever possible, he still gets outside to hike, canoe, or just relax by a campfire.

Cotrone is now kickstarting his professional career in water with a 2018-19 Great Lakes Commission-Sea Grant Fellowship. This one-year position based in Ann Arbor, Mich., is administered by the Great Lakes Commission in consultation with the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network and the National Sea Grant Office.

The fellowship is awarded competitively, and Cotrone will be one of two fellows in the coming year, applying his skills to a wide range of projects.

Says Cotrone, “I’m excited to engage in my passion and connection to water and natural resources and, in particular, to apply what I’ve learned in graduate school to the Great Lakes.”

Likely fellowship duties will include helping to coordinate regional workshops about sediment management in areas that have problems with erosion and sedimentation.  Cotrone will also write and update content for a website about crude oil transport in the Great Lakes.  Additionally, he’ll assist with programs related to green infrastructure, source water protection and harmful algal blooms.

Cotrone will immerse himself in the world of policy, working with legislators and policymakers on Great Lakes issues.

Bringing disparate people together to connect over water issues and solve problems has been a hallmark of Cotrone’s graduate experience at UW-Madison, where the terminal master’s degree in water resources management is offered through the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. 

For the past two years, Cotrone has been the inaugural project assistant for the new “Water @ UW-Madison” organization, which pulls together faculty, academic staff, students and others from many different units across UW’s sprawling campus.

Water @ UW-Madison has become an important force for convening engineers, biologists, limnologists, urban planners, computer scientists and artists. On May 9, the organization led a successful symposium at the Gordon Dining and Event Center on campus, attended by roughly 200 people.

Cotrone played an integral role in organizing and running the free, public event. More than 20 lightning talks covered topics as wide-ranging as meteotsunamis, wastewater treatment and how the humanities can shed light on stream restoration.

While his fellowship will likely keep his schedule as jam-packed as graduate school did, Cotrone is looking forward to returning to Michigan.  Ann Arbor will be familiar territory for the 2014 University of Michigan grad and Wolverine football and basketball fan.

In fact, Ann Arbor is where Cotrone first realized that he could turn his fondness for the Great Lakes region into a career. He focused on freshwater resources while majoring in Michigan’s interdisciplinary Program in the Environment.  Now, with a Wisconsin master’s in hand, Cotrone is headed back to his home state to write the next chapter in a career helping the waters and people of the Upper Midwest.