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Graduate Students - Mussie Tekie Beyene

MussieCroppedGraduate Research Assistant, Sustainability Solutions Initiative
PhD Student, Civil and Environmental Engineering

What problem/s are you working to solve?
Climate is a major regulator of lake ecosystem structure and function. Although it is characterized by high randomness and unpredictability, understanding of the resistance, resilience and response of lake systems to climate is needed for the development of sustainable lake use and management policy. There is a need for such study in Maine, as lakes constitute one of Maine’s greatest natural resources. My research focuses on creating lake models that integrate climate forcing in order to provide insight on the chain processes behind various lake responses to climate variation, and to form the basis for the design of decision-making tools for lake management.

What progress are you making toward solutions?
Under the guidance of my advisor and help of project team members, I was able to characterize the linkage between climate and lake ice out events and also identify regional ‘weather regimes’ behind rare lake ice breakup events in Maine. These findings will form the basis for my next area of work, which is on evaluating the sensitivity of the lake plankton community to anomalous shifts in ice breakup dates, and relatively warm winters in Maine.

How could your findings contribute to a more sustainable future in Maine and beyond?
Imagine if we could anticipate with a certain confidence level what lake ice conditions will be like a year or two in advance. The planning of various winter and open water activities in lakes would greatly benefit from such predictions. Also understanding how climate impacts lake chemical and biological components would help to improve and maintain the quality of water in lakes. This isn’t something that would only contribute to a sustainable future in Maine but for the entire world.

Why did you decide to join SSI?
In my country, I worked as a municipal water engineer. There I have seen first hand that the management of lakes and reservoirs cannot be relied on using the current water management system. SSI offered the opportunity to work on a different water resource management style with a group of professionals from various fields. This is what attracted me the most about SSI.

What’s the best part about collaborating on SSI research projects?
The chance to learn fresh methodologies, gain different perspectives and discuss success or failures.

Where’s your favorite place in Maine?
I don’t have a particular place. Anywhere near the water will do.

What’s your ultimate Maine experience?
Canoeing.

Mud season survival strategy?
Stay indoors!

What sustains you?
God, family and good friends.

Additional information on Mussie and his SSI teams

SSI Project:
Safeguarding a Vulnerable Watershed

Advisor: Shaleen Jain


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