Sea Grant project faves, Gavin Dehnert

The calendar has flipped to 2022. Our staff members are ready to tackle new projects in the coming 12 months, which also happens to mark Sea Grant’s 50th anniversary. Before they move more deeply into the new year, however, some staff members took a moment to retain the glow of their favorite 2021 project. Gavin Dehnert shared his thoughts. He’s our emerging contaminants scientist.

My favorite project of 2021 is one that looked at the impacts of aquatic herbicides, such as 2,4-D, on nontarget organisms.  In particular, we wanted to learn more about the interplay of 2,4-D and early life stages of freshwater fish—while bridging the gaps between laboratory and field work. We have a video and a story about the project.

The best part about this research is that its main goal is to help management agencies like the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources make scientifically informed risk assessment decisions for aquatic invasive species that can protect nontarget organisms.

On top of the actionable science, this project allowed me to communicate with a variety of stakeholders, while meeting some wonderful people. I was able to team with Kerry Kaufman, who works at the Menominee Tribal School in Neopit, and Klint Hischke, a science teacher there who also instructs the students on aquaponics. We collaborated on aquatic science lessons and activities.

Students and instructors from the Menominee Tribal School in Neopit, Wisconsin. Image credit: Gavin Dehnert