WaterCube Teams
The MSU Water Science Network is funding 13 WaterCube teams. Each WaterCube will be tackling compelling water issues. Many will be working on new technologies such as next generation sequencing or using microrobots to remove pollutants. All of the teams are multidisciplinary; six colleges are involved in the program. Learn more about each team by scrolling through the below descriptions.


WaterCube 1: The Wine Cube







Members (left to right): Bruno Basso, Geological Sciences, College of Natural Science (CNS); Paolo Sabbatini, Horticulture, College of Agriculture & Natural Resources (CANR) ; Dave Hyndman, Geological Sciences, CNS


  1. To understand and model spatial and temporal variability of vine growth, yield and quality
  2. To improve water management in vineyards
  3. To evaluate the impact of management on water resources (surface and subsurface) by modeling water withdrawals from groundwater in California



WaterCube 2: Nicaragua’s Grand Canal

New Faculty Orientation at the Kellogg Center Aug. 23, 2011.Lopez_MariaClaudiaMedina_LaurieKramer_Dan






Members (left to right): 1) Gerald Urquhart, Fisheries and Wildlife, CANR; 2) Maria Lopez, Community Sustainability, CANR; 3) Laurie Medina, Anthropology, College of Social Science (CSS); 4) Daniel Kramer, Fisheries and Wildlife, CANR, Lyman Briggs College (LBC); 5) Jennifer Goett, James Madison College (not pictured)


  1. Develop a better understanding of the myriad of issues that arise in major water infrastructure projects.
  2. Use knowledge from other such projects to help local people monitor and respond to changes brought on by the development.



WaterCube 3: Citizen Science Study of Contaminant Exposures Related to Water Affordability in Detroit







Members (left to right): 1) Jennifer Carrera, Sociology, CSS; 2) Lucero Radonic, Anthroplogy, CSS; 3) Jade Mitchell, Bio Ag Systems Engineering, CANR/College of Engineering (ENG)

Goal: To pilot a community-based participatory research study to explore water quality impacts, exposure and risk related to conservation and water affordability in Detroit



WaterCube 4: Waterborne Disease in a Karst Environment: A One-Health Approach







Members (left to right): 1) Irene Xagoraraki, Civil & Environmental Engineering, ENG; 2) Amber Pearson, Geography, CSS; 3) David Long, Geological Sciences, CNS; 4) Thomas Voice, CEE, ENG


  1. To understand the relationships amongst disease, bacterial sources (i.e., human, animal waste), human behaviors (e.g., water uses) in a karst environment
  2. To work within the frameworks of One Health & Exposure Analysis



WaterCube 5: Microbial Communities in Global Groundwaters: An Evolutionary and Ecological Perspective







Members (left to right): 1) Kevin Liu, Computer Science, ENG; 2) Joan Rose, Fisheries and Wildlife, CANR; 3) Matt Schrenk, GLG/MMG, CNS


  1. Determine if and how evolutionary and ecological patterns in microbial communities  can be used to predict groundwater geochemistry.
  2.  Determine if and how groundwater geochemistry can be used to predict evolutionary and ecological patterns in microbial communities.
  3. Determine what new computational and statistical approaches we need to create to study the complex interplay between microbial communities and groundwaters.



WaterCube 6: Abundant Resources Research Group (ARRG)







Members (left to right): 1) Adam Zwickle, Criminal Justice/ESPP, CSS; 2) Joe Hamm, Criminal Justice/ESPP,  CSS; 3) Sara Fingal, Lyman Briggs College/History, Lyman Briggs College/CSS; 4) Bruno Takahashi, School of Journalism/Communication, CAS

Goal: To understand what factors motivate the conservation of abundant resources



WaterCube 7: Ecological Linkages between Terrestrial and Aquatic Systems








Members (left to right): 1) Kyla Dahlin, Geography, CSS; 2) Kendra Spence Cheruvelil, Fisheries & Wildlife, CANR; 3) Patricia Soranno, Fisheries & Wildlife, CANR; 4) Phoebe Zarnetske, Forestry, CANR; 5) Lifeng Luo, Geography, CNS (honorary member)


  1. Build capacity for terrestrial/aquatic biodiversity science
  2. Bring together disparate datasets from multiple sub-disciplines of ecology
  3. Analyze multi-scale patterns



WaterCube 8: WaterCube Phosphorus







Members (left to right): 1) Cloe Garnache, Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, CANR; 2) Joseph Herriges, Economics & Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, CSS & CANR; 3) Frank Lupi, Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics & Fisheries and Wildlife, CANR; 4) R. Jan Stevenson, Integrative Biology, CNS


  1. Estimate how changes in Phosphorus (P) affect the value of freshwater ecosystem services
  2. Improve our understanding of farmer behavioral response to market and policy incentives
  3. Identify cost-effective policies to balance tradeoffs between agricultural P pollution



WaterCube 9: Interactions between fungi, bacteria and early ontogenetic forms of fish

Trail_FrancesDr. Terence Marsh of the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Department at MSU.Scribner_Kim






Members (left to right): 1) Frances Trail, Plant Biology, CNS; 2) Terence L. Marsh, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, CNS; 3) Kim T. Scribner, Fisheries and Wildlife/Integrative Biology, CANR


  1. Identify “factors” that influence the colonization of fish eggs by microbes.
  2. Determine the relationship between the phylogenetic structure of the egg-associated microbial community and egg mortality
  3. Identify key elements in the assembly of the community and interactions between community members, both fungi and bacteria



WaterCube 10: Pollutant-degrading Micro-robots

Junghoon YeonLi_HuiZhang_Wei






Members (left to right): 1) Junghoon Yeom, Department of Mechanical Engineering, ENG 2) Hui Li, Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, CANR; 3) Wei Zhang, Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, CANR


  1. Polish alternative irrigation water contaminated with micropollutants
  2. Develop self-propelled micro-robots effective in degrading micropollutants under visible light and/or vibration
  3. Investigate degradation mechanism and improve the efficiency



WaterCube 11: Anthropogenic Nitrogen Loading in Relation to Episodic Bottlenose Dolphin Mortality

College of Natural Science, Zoology, Elise Zipkin, 11/14/14Ostrom_Peggy_with_studentGore_Meredith






Members (left to right): 1) Elise Zipkin, Integrative Biology, CNS; 2) Peggy Ostrom, Integrative Biology, CNS (on left); 3) Meredith Gore, Dept. of Fisheries and Wildlife and School of Criminal Justice, ANR and CSS


  1. Investigate the history of N pollution in the Indian River Lagoon
  2. Investigate correlations between water quality and hot spots for bottlenose dolphin strandings
  3. Use bottlenose dolphins as a vehicle to influence citizens to protect water quality in the Indian River Lagoon



WaterCube 12: The Role of Inorganic N in CO2 efflux and Harmful Algal Blooms







Members (left to right): 1) Nathaniel E. Ostrom, Integrative Biology, CNS; 2) Jiquan Chen, Geography, CSS; 3) Syed Hashsham, Civil and Environmental Engineering, ENG


  1. Quantify rates of key N cycling processes denitrification, anammox and N fixation
  2. Quantify presence and activity of important N cycling genes
  3. Quantify link between N cycling and CO2 efflux



WaterCube 13: Regional Human-climate interactions in semi-arid environment

Deb_KalyanmoyLu_DengshengLuo_LifengYadu Pokhrel






Members (left to right): 1) Kalyanmoy Deb, Electrical & Computer Engineering, ENG; 2) Dengsheng Lu, Center for Global Change and Earth Observations, CSS; 3) Lifeng Luo, Geography, CSS; 4) Yadu Pokhrel, Civil and Environmental Engineering, ENG


  1. Integrate remote-sensing and in-situ observations into a regional climate model to study human-climate interactions using machine learning techniques
  2. Examine hydro-climatic impacts of land-water management: comparative study of Heihe river basin, China and Great Plains
  3. Explore and predict the dynamics of eco-hydrological systems and their relationship with water resources availability and use through optimization methods