North Dakota Water Resources Research Institute director named

Xinhua Jia, professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, was recently named director of the North Dakota Water Resources Research Institute.

The new director will report to Colleen Fitzgerald, NDSU vice president of research and creative activity. Fitzgerald noted that the director role is critical to the state right now and that Jia has a strong collaborative track record with both internal and external stakeholders.

“With significant federal funding initiatives in convergence, now is a timely point to build convergent transdisciplinary collaborations across NDSU and UND and to bring NDSU’s expertise to bear on water or water-adjacent topics--especially those of critical importance to North Dakota,” Fitzgerald said.

“The NDSU strategic plan has identified the sustainability of natural resources like water as an existing research strength that is relevant to local and global challenges,” she added. “I look forward to supporting Xinhua’s efforts on campus and beyond to re-envision the work of the Institute.”

The NDWRRI was founded in 1965 by authority of Congress and is administrated through the United States Geological Survey. The NDWWRI is one of the 54 institutes known collectedly as the National Institutes for Water Resources. Located in the nation’s land-grant universities and four U.S. territories, the NIWR plays a major role in addressing water-related concerns by providing a platform for research, training, and collaboration at the state level.

Jia joined NDSU in 2007 and her research involves the dominant hydrologic processes governing the water cycle and its impact on the landscape’s ability to support crop production. Jia’s work strives to improve crop production and water management through large-scale field studies using new technologies and advanced instrumentation.

Jia has secured $9 million in extramural funding as PI or Co-PI, with 44 peer-reviewed journal articles and other publications. Her funding is from various agencies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture including the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, as well as the North Dakota State Water Commission, Department of Agriculture and commodities groups in North Dakota and Minnesota. She previously served as affiliate faculty in the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and her graduate students have been recipients of its funding support for graduate research.

“Outgoing director Michael Chu has made a significant impact since 2018, including his contributions to interdisciplinary graduate education through the Water Resources Research Institute Graduate Research Fellowship program,” Fitzgerald said. “I want to offer my thanks to him for his stewardship of the Institute.”

Fitzgerald also thanked the NDSU search committee for their efforts. Led by Stephanie Day, chair of earth, environmental and geospatial sciences, committee members included Sheri Anderson, associate vice president, office of research and creative activity; Anne Denton, professor of computer science; Zhulu Lin, associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering; Tom DeSutter, professor of soil science; and Craig Stockwell, professor of biological sciences.

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