Meet the Researcher – Will Bartsch


Are you ready for the year 2100? NRRI scientist Will Bartsch can help.

If, for example, you are making long-term forest management decisions that could impact timber harvesting, wildlife habitat, water quality, water quantity, and carbon sequestration in many areas. large watersheds of northeastern Minnesota.

But even though you do not make these decisions, you are impacted.

“We have several expert groups in each of these areas that are creating models that predict what the landscape will look like until 2100,” Bartsch explained. “At the same time, we are developing an online tool to make this information easily accessible, allowing foresters and land managers to better consider how their management and harvesting decisions can impact different components of the forest ecosystem.

Will bartsch

The Forest Optimization Tool is one example of how Bartsch is working to improve the accessibility of high-quality data on Minnesota’s natural resources. But he doesn’t do it alone.

“I work on the different NRRI research platforms – water, minerals, forests and materials – regularly engaging with experts in various disciplines,” he said. “It’s one of my favorite things about my job. “

Bartsch started at NRRI as a graduate student in 2010, fascinated by the work to understand the ecology and water quality of the St. Louis River estuary. After graduating from UMD in 2012, he worked at the Environmental Protection Agency, researching the Great Lakes.

Mapping Minnesota

But he returned to NRRI in 2016 to work on the Minnesota Natural Resource Atlas – something he’s particularly proud of – recently releasing version 2.0. It provides easy and free statewide access to 455 data layers in 10 categories: agriculture, biota, borders, climate, environment, geology / topography, imagery / land use, infrastructure, society / economy and water.

To ensure that these large-scale projects incorporate the best available data, Bartsch draws on its expertise in water resources and data, especially spatial data, when speaking to experts in the university system. . He also engages in discussions with those who manage Minnesota’s resources, especially at the local level, about the types of data they need to do their jobs more efficiently.

NRRI support

And in addition to NRRI’s multidisciplinary research expertise, Bartsch appreciates the guidance of Jane Dzuck, Human Resources and Executive Office Assistant, in keeping her team strong.

“Hiring is a complex process and Jane makes sure I have the information I need to do it right,” said Bartsch. “When I have questions about HR, budget and administrative details, I start my research with Jane because of her vast knowledge. “

Pandemic transitions

The COVID pandemic has revealed to Bartsch how important in-person interactions are – both business and personal – to building and maintaining relationships. And if he understands that video calls have been important in moving projects forward while working remotely, he finds it easier to understand how people really feel about a topic or idea. when they meet face to face.

“I look forward to having both professional and social commitments to move from the Internet to in-person,” said Bartsch. “We’ve all gotten better on Zoom calls, but at least for me face-to-face meetings are better. “

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