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Environmental Studies Program Director Awarded Researcher of the Year by mining society

Kat Tenbarge
April 24, 2019

The American Society of Mining and Reclamation has selected Dr. Natalie Kruse Daniels, associate professor and director of the Environmental Studies program in the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, to receive its 2019 Richard and Lela Barnhisel Reclamation Researcher of the Year Award.

Kruse Daniels will accept the award on June 4 at the 2019 ASMR International Conference in Big Sky, Mont.

The award recognizes Kruse Daniels for nearly 20 years’ research and fieldwork in acid mine drainage reclamation and stream recovery. Acid mine drainage--the main pollutant of surface water in the Appalachian region--occurs when water flows over or through sulfur-bearing deposits from abandoned coal mining sites, turning water bright orange and acidic.

“We’ve been able to develop a wealth of understanding and a real body of research that helps us build a conceptual model of how watershed processes interact with treatment,” Kruse Daniels said. She noted that while watersheds in southern Ohio are heavily affected by acid mine drainage, many other places in the world are also affected by pre-regulation mining.

“You have to consider the goals of treatment of a watershed as a whole, because devising treatment for each individual site isn’t effective or cost-effective and doesn’t necessarily get you to a point where you meet your objective of recovering the biology in the stream,” she said.

Jen Bowman, director of environmental programs at the Voinovich School, and Dr. Bill Strosnider, a faculty member at Saint Francis University, nominated Kruse Daniels for the award early this year. Kruse Daniels cited her work with the Appalachian Watershed Research Group as well as mentoring students to grow the next generation of reclamationists as aspects the ASMR selection committee may have valued in her portfolio.

“I’ve been able to partner with biologists and other geochemists and hydrologists to look at this multidisciplinary issue of how we really target recovery of the whole ecology of the stream and not just getting the acidic water back to a less acidic pH,” Kruse Daniels said.