Symposium 2021


Keynote Speakers

April 12, 2021

12:30-1:30 pm (PST)

Adam Wicks-Arshack

Attorney and PhD candidate, U of I

Adam Wicks-Arshack is an attorney and PhD candidate at the University of Idaho Water Resource Program. He lives in Index, WA, where he grows and raises his own food and paddles on the Skykomish River as frequently as possible. Adam’s research focuses on environmental governance and specializes in instream flow water law and policy. Adam has created a database and map of instream flow protections across the Pacific Northwest and uses USGS gages and modeled (historical & future) stream flow data to perform quantitative legal analysis of instream flow water rights, rules and policies.

April 13, 2021

12:30-1:30 pm (PST)

Mary Lou Soscia

Columbia River Coordinator, EPA Region 10 Water Division

Mary Lou Soscia is the Columbia River Coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10. Mary Lou provides senior EPA representation on Columbia River Basin work efforts.  Mary Lou represents EPA on Columbia River forums including the Columbia River Federal Caucus.  Mary Lou is currently leading the implementation of the Columbia River Basin Restoration Program, CWA Section 123, and led the Columbia River Basin Toxics Reduction Working Group which led to the 2016 CWA amendments.  Mary Lou provided leadership for EPA on the Columbia River Temperature TMDL.  She has led many important work efforts for EPA including EPA’s participation in the Columbia River Treaty and Tribal Baseline Water Quality Standards.

Mary Lou has had over forty years of experience with state, federal, and tribal government in watershed and river management issues.  Mary Lou has a Bachelors in Geography from Virginia Tech and a Masters in Geography from University of Maryland.


April 12, 2021

Diversity Panel

9-11 am (PST)

Led by Dresden Farrand, American Water Resources Association CEO

Dresden will be leading a panel on diversity and inclusion in water resources professions. This panel will be interactive, and participants are highly encouraged to participate in the discussion.

Dresden Farrand is the CEO of American Water Resources Association, one of the preeminent multi-disciplinary associations for information exchange and professional development related to water resources education, management and research. Dresden holds Master’s Degrees in Public Administration, Public Policy Analysis, and Public Health and is a certified association executive (CAE).  She has 17 years of experience in nonprofit management, including serving as vice president of membership and chapter development for the Independent Electrical Contractors Association, a national trade association, and senior director of membership and chapters at the Consortium of School Networking. 

April 13, 2021

Blue Peace Index Workshop

9-11 am (PST)

Led by the North American Youth Parliament for Water and Mexico Youth Parliament for Water

This workshop will raise awareness about the challenges facing the Colorado River, and the work of the Mexico and North American Youth Parliaments for Water. The participants will research how their national water policies work. They will have opportunities to consider how their country’s policies regarding water resources management have transboundary effects on their neighbors, and collaborate with regional teams to learn about other countries’ policies and practices. 

The purpose of the Working Group session is to give young professionals the opportunity to interact with the Blue Peace Index (BPI) as a fact finding tool, a way to understand their country’s management, and opportunity to engage with other national teams to compile regional understanding. The BPI is a research and education tool developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit that measures sustainable and cooperative water management of international water resources according to five “Pillars” over the scope of international river basins and of individual countries.

The Power Beyond the Bullet Point

3:30-5 pm (PST)

Led by Francisco Guerrero, Science Communication Liaison: National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis-COMPASS, Oregon State University

Participants learn how to enhance their science stories by creating effective visuals using PowerPoint.

Requires users to have access to PowerPoint

Francisco is the Science Communication Liaison for COMPASS and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). Trained as an aquatic biologist studying litter decomposition in the tropical Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta (the tallest coastal mountain in the world) and after obtaining a master’s degree in Hydrosystems (Bogota, Colombia), he moved to Oregon to understand the effects of forest cover changes on the amount of terrestrial carbon exported to lakes and oceans. While working on his dual Ph.D. degree in Sustainable Forest Management and Water Resources Science from Oregon State University, Francisco discovered his passion for science communication. This passion led Francisco to amazing opportunities, including being a Mass Media Fellow at CNN Español for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Water Science-Policy Fellow at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Career Panel

April 12, 2021 at 4:00 pm (PST)

A moderated panel discussion featuring alumni from the Oregon State University Water Resources Graduate Program. Submit your questions beforehand for our panelists!


Joe Kemper

Hydrogeologist, Oregon Water Resources Department

Joe has been a Hydrogeologist with the Oregon Water Resources Department since July 2016. Joe was born and raised in Oregon, graduating from Georgetown University in 2009. After walking down several career paths, he returned to school at Oregon State University in 2012. There, he took two years of post-baccalaureate geology work, then earned a masters in Water Resources Engineering in 2016. Before March 2020, you could find him paddling the rivers of the PNW. Now, he tries to keep with his son Arty, who just turned one! An important skill he’s learned is I will forever be developing the ability to effectively communicate technical information to listeners from any background.

Leah Tai

Hydrologist, US Forest Service

Leah currently works as a Project Manager for the U.S. Forest Service, PNW Region. She received her M.S. in Water Resource Engineering at Oregon State University in 2015. She has been working for the Forest Service throughout Oregon and Washington since then, primarily as a District Hydrologist on the Oregon Coast. Leah developed a passion for water related issues while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cape Verde and working at the Environmental Protection Agency. Leah is a Michigan native who loves lakes, snow, and water in all its forms. The most important thing she has learned, both throughout graduate school and work, is to spend time observing the natural systems that we are trying to understand and to take as many notes and measurements as you can every time you get into the field.

Susan Elliott

River Restoration Engineer, Interfluve

Susan followed her passion for exploring the world’s rivers to a career as a River Restoration Engineer at Inter-Fluve based in Hood River Oregon. Along the way, she worked in international river tourism policy for the Chinese government, served on the board of American Whitewater, and published a 300-page guidebook titled Paddling America: Discover and Explore Our Nation’s Top 50 Wild & Scenic Rivers. Today, she builds complex hydraulic models, designs large wood structures, and engineering plan sets to improve riverine habitats across the country. One of the most important skills I’ve learned is to reach out and connect with people doing things that I want to do one day. Send an email, give a call, connect in any way to learn how they got there and start my plan for the route to get there too.

Kara DiFrancesco

Independent Consultant, Wicked Water Strategies

Kara’s educational background is a mix of technical engineering coursework alongside environmental management and policy studies. She’s held a wide variety of positions from teaching high school math to working on dam reoperations for an environmental law firm to interning with a climate change lobbyist on Capitol Hill. While completing her PhD at OSU in Water Resources Engineering she started an independent consulting project, Wicked Water Strategies, LLC. Most of her consulting work broadly falls under two categories: water resources planning under climate change and the application of nature-based strategies. Some of her current/recent clients include: the World Bank, World Resources Institute (WRI), International Water Resources Association (IWRA), Oregon Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), City of Portland, et al. She’s found that networking is one of the most essential skills to survive as an independent consultant, along with strong verbal and written communication skills.

Racquel Rancier

Senior Policy Coordinator, Oregon Water Resources Department

Racquel earned her master’s degree in water policy and management from Oregon State University. Racquel currently works at the Oregon Water Resources Department as a Policy Manager, where she oversees the Department’s work on legislation, rulemaking, communications, government-to-government relations, and the State’s Integrated Water Resources Strategy. Racquel works to bring people together, distill complex science and data, and help find a path to move forward on complex water policy issues. In 2020, the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) awarded her the 2020 West Regional Award of Merit for her outstanding contribution to dam safety policy in Oregon. See more about Racquel and her advice for students here:

Thomas Mosier

Energy Systems Group Lead, Idaho National Laboratory

Thomas holds a B.A. in physics from Reed College (’08) and a dual-major Ph.D. from Oregon State University in water resources engineering and mechanical engineering. His graduate research focused on developing tools to assess small hydropower potential in developing countries such as Pakistan. After graduation, he joined the World Bank to conduct research on climate and water in South Asia to inform regional policy objectives. He’s currently the Energy Systems Group Lead at Idaho National Laboratory, where he leads research projects to improve hydropower’s contributions to society’s evolving power and non-power needs and manages a team of power system researchers. When he was at Reed and OSU he thought his goal should be to become an analytical machine. Now he recognizes that the key to my success is in recognizing our individual and collective humanity. Regardless of discipline, empathy is a critical professional skill.

Networking Session

April 12, 2021 at 4:45 pm (PST)

Get the chance to talk in small groups with the Career Panelists and other Oregon State University Water Resources Graduate Program Alumni.