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2024 SLU Summit for Water: Water Security in the Mississippi River Basin

Infographic of letters on a background of green topographical map with blue river lines reading: SLU Summit for Water April 18 - 19, 2024, Water Security in the Mississippi River Basin, SLU WATER Institute & NGRREC, Free to AttendJoin us for the 2024 Saint Louis University Summit for Water: Water Security in the Mississippi River Basin on April 18 and 19!

2024 SLU Summit for Water

Saint Louis University’s WATER Institute and the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center are proud to present the 2024 SLU Summit for Water: Water Security in the Mississippi River Basin.

Join leaders and experts from academia, industry, nonprofits and government at the SLU Summit for Water to share ideas, learn about the latest research, and tackle some of the most critical and persistent challenges facing our most fundamental resource: water. The fifth annual SLU Summit for Water will focus on water security in the Mississippi River Basin, engaging stakeholders across sectors and disciplines to join the WATER Institute’s mission of advancing water innovation to serve humanity.

2024 Schedule

Thursday, April 18, 2024: In-person Only

Busch Student Center, 20 N. Grand Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63103

Additional location details, including parking information, will be emailed to registered attendees the week before the event.

Please find the schedule outlined below. Details will be added leading up to the event.

8 a.m.: Registration Opens

Location: Busch Student Center Main Floor

Registration opens for the in-person summit. Coffee will be available to attendees.

8:30-8:45 a.m.: Summit Welcome and Opening Address

Location: Busch Student Center Wool Ballrooms, Rooms 171-172

Amanda Cox, Ph.D., P.E., director of the WATER Institute, will welcome attendees and share key announcements.

Richard E. Warner, senior scientist, National Great Rivers Research and Education Center; professor emeritus, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, will welcome attendees to the summit.

Gregory Triplett, Ph.D., dean of the School of Science and Engineering, will provide the opening address to kick off the 2024 SLU Summit for Water.

8:45-9:30 a.m.: Panel 1: Drinking Water and Water Infrastructure

This panel session will discuss critical issues and outstanding discoveries surrounding drinking water and water infrastructure, highlighting the challenges of water access, quality and sustainability. There is a need for innovative approaches to implement effective infrastructure, pollution control, and equitable distribution of clean water resources, which will require collaboration between policymakers, scientists, engineers, and communities to ensure a resilient water future.

Steve Wilson, groundwater hydrologist; head, Environmental Public Health, Information and Data Services Section; program director, and; Illinois State Water Survey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Annesh Borthakur, Ph.D., assistant professor, WATER Institute, Saint Louis University 
Curt Skouby, director of public utilities, City of St. Louis

Sofie Liang, M.Sc., laboratory technician, WATER Institute, Saint Louis University

9:30-9:50 a.m.: Coffee Break, sponsored by Shimadzu

Enjoy coffee or hot tea and network with fellow attendees between sessions.

This coffee break is sponsored by Shimadzu Scientific Instruments.

9:50-10:35 a.m.: Panel 2: Securing Healthy Ecosystems

This panel session will highlight the need to establish sustainable ecosystems across the Mississippi River basin through the conservation and management of biodiversity, mitigation of pollution and management of river flows, thus ensuring the resilience of freshwater systems in the face of climate change and anthropogenic pressures.

John Crawford, Ph.D., terrestrial wildlife ecologist, National Great Rivers Research and Education Center
Kara Andres, Ph.D., postdoctoral research associate, Living Earth Collaborative, Washington University
Caity Sims, restoration coordinator, Project Clear, Litzsinger Road Ecology Center, a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden

Jason Knouft, Ph.D., professor, Department of Biology, Saint Louis University; associate director, WATER Institute, Saint Louis University; large river ecologist, National Great Rivers Research and Education Center; expert consultant, climate and water security, U.S. Department of State

10:45-11:30 a.m.: Panel 3: Water-related Hazards and Climate Change

This panel session will address the risks of water-related hazards that are exacerbated by climate change, such as floods, droughts and storm surges. The panelists will discuss urgently needed adaptation and resilience-building measures, outlining how integrated approaches that combine early-warning systems, nature-based solutions, and community engagement can help mitigate impacts and enhance preparedness for future water-related disasters.

Alejandra Botero Acosta, Ph.D., research scientist, WATER Institute, Saint Louis University
Sayan Dey, Ph.D., research scientist, Taylor Geospatial Institute and WATER Institute, Saint Louis University
Jason Knouft, Ph.D., professor, Department of Biology, Saint Louis University; associate director, WATER Institute, Saint Louis University; large river ecologist, National Great Rivers Research and Education Center; expert consultant, climate and water security, U.S. Department of State

Elizabeth Hasenmueller, Ph.D., associate director, WATER Institute, Saint Louis University

11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.: Lunch, sponsored by Culligan

Complimentary boxed lunches and soft drinks will be provided to in-person attendees.

Lunch is sponsored by Culligan.

1-1:10 p.m.: Keynote Introduction

Amanda Cox, Ph.D., director of the WATER Institute and associate professor of civil engineering, will share remarks on water security while welcoming keynote speaker, Jason Knouft, Ph.D.

1:10-2 p.m.: Keynote Address from Jason Knouft, Ph.D.: Water Security in the Mississippi River Basin in a Changing Climate


Headshot for Jason Knouft


The Mississippi River Basin spans approximately 1,245,000 square miles, is home to 70 million people, and touches 32 states while covering nearly 40% of the continental U.S. The river plays a vital role in the national and global economy, serving as a crucial transportation route and a source of water for agriculture and industry, generating approximately $1 billion in economic activity per day. Food production in the watershed is responsible for 92% of the nation's agricultural exports, 78% of the world's exports of feed grains and soybeans, and most of the livestock produced nationally. The Mississippi River is also essential for the energy industry, serving as a major transportation route for oil and natural gas as well as a source of hydroelectric power. Beyond the economic value of the Mississippi River, water in the system is fundamentally important to human health and well-being as well as social stability across the region. Consequently, maintaining water security across the basin is critical to almost all aspects of human security in the U.S. Changes in climate, however, are adding to current water stresses associated with greater water extraction to support human needs and economic growth. Effective sustainable management of water in the coming decades requires recognition of the interconnectedness of the basin and realization of the finite resources supporting systems across the region.

Keynote Speaker Biography

Jason Knouft, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Biology, Saint Louis University
Associate director, WATER Institute, Saint Louis University
Large river ecologist, National Great Rivers Research and Education Center
Expert consultant, Climate and Water Security, U.S. Department of State

Jason Knouft, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Biology at Saint Louis University and a large river ecologist at the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center. He recently served as a climate and water security analyst at the U.S. Department of State as a Jefferson Science Fellow and continues these efforts in an expert consultant role at the Department of State. He also serves as the deputy representative of the U.S. Bureau of Intelligence and Research to the Climate Security Advisory Council, deputy ex officio representative for the Department of State on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Climate Security Roundtable, and a panel member for the NASEM Independent Study on Potential Environmental Effects of Nuclear War. He also served on the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as well as the Scientific Review Committee at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center.

Knouft's research focuses on the impacts of human activities on freshwater resources with a focus on climate change, land use transformations, and climate adaptation strategies to address these issues. This work integrates hydrologic, water quality, and ecological models with global climate model projections and field-based research to address contemporary and future issues related to freshwater system sustainability. He holds a B.S. and M.S. in biology from Drexel University, and a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

2:05-2:50 p.m.: Panel 4: Economic Activities and Development

This panel session will explore the multifaceted dynamics of economic activities and development within the Mississippi River Basin such as agriculture, food and water security, climate-smart agriculture and natural infrastructure investment. The discussion will include strategies to harness the basin's potential as a driver of economic resilience that results in meaningful, sustainable change throughout the basin.

Steve Sonka, Ph.D., emeritus chaired professor of agricultural strategy at the University of Illinois
Colin Wellenkamp, J.D., LLM, executive director, Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative
Christine Ingrassia, director of operations for the president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen

Paige Mettler-Cherry, Ph.D., director of operations and strategic initiatives, National Great Rivers Research and Education Center

3-3:45 p.m.: Panel 5: Historical and Cultural Perspectives Across the River

This panel session will focus on the intricate historical relationship between development and the natural environment along the Mississippi River, shedding light on the geomorphic and anthropogenic transformations that have shaped its course.

Andrew Hurley, professor of history, University of Missouri-St. Louis
Eddie Brauer, senior hydraulic engineer, St. Louis District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Amanda Cox, Ph.D., director, WATER Institute; associate professor of Civil Engineering, Saint Louis University

3:45-4 p.m.: Closing Remarks

Ken Olliff, Saint Louis University vice president for research and partnerships and director of the Saint Louis University Research Institute, and Amanda Cox, Ph.D., P.E. director of the WATER Institute, will provide concluding remarks to close the summit's first day.

4-6 p.m.: Networking Reception, sponsored by Waters

Location: Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building, Atrium (First Floor Entrance) and WATER Institute Research Labs (Lower Level).

Attendees are invited to a networking reception in the new Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building for light appetizers, wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages.

Friday, April 19, 2024: Virtual Only

Zoom Webinar

Please register to receive the Zoom Webinar link. If you have already registered and have not received the event link, please email at your earliest convenience.

8:15-8:30 a.m.: Welcome

Amanda Cox, Ph.D., P.E., director of the WATER Institute, will welcome attendees and introduce the WATER Institute.

Richard E. Warner, Senior Scientist, National Great Rivers Research and Education Center; Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, will welcome attendees to the Summit.

Jean Potvin, Ph.D., professor of physics, Saint Louis University, will share key announcements and introduce the presenters.

8:30-9 a.m.: Cave Sediment Sequesters Anthropogenic Microparticles (including microplastics and modified cellulose) in Subsurface Environments

Elizabeth Hasenmueller, Ph.D.
Associate director, WATER Institute
Associate professor, Earth Sciences
Saint Louis University

Anthropogenic microparticles (AMPs) of synthetic, semisynthetic, or modified natural compositions are globally pervasive, yet little is known about their distribution and storage in the subsurface despite their potential threats to belowground environments. We thus assessed their amounts and characteristics in water and sediment from a cave in the United States. During a flood, water and sediment samples were collected at 8 sites every ~25 m along the cave passage. We evaluated both sample types for AMPs, water for geochemistry (e.g., inorganic species), and sediment for particle sizes. Additional water samples were collected during low flow at the same sites for further geochemical analysis to verify water provenance. We found AMPs in all samples that were mainly fibers (91%) and clear (59%). Both suspected (identified visually) and confirmed (identified with Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy) AMP concentrations were positively correlated between the compartments (r ≥ 0.83, p ≤ 0.01). Nevertheless, AMP quantities in sediment were ~100 times those in water, indicating that sediment sequesters them in the cave. Microplastic abundances were similar among all sediment samples but were only found in water samples near the cave’s main entrance. Treated cellulosic microparticle concentrations in both compartments generally increased along the cave stream’s flowpath, which we suspect is due to higher rates of flood and airborne deposition towards the outlet. Water geochemical and sediment particle size data collected at a passage branch indicated at least two distinct water sources to the cave. However, AMP assemblages did not differ between these sites, implying minimal variation in sourcing across the recharge area. Our results reveal that AMPs intrude karst systems and are stored in sediment. Karstic sediment consequently represents a potential source of “legacy” pollution to the water resources and fragile habitats found in these globally distributed landscapes.

9:15-9:45 a.m.: Tracking Nitrogen Trends in the Mississippi River Basin

Alejandra Botero-Acosta, Ph.D.
Research scientist, WATER Institute, Saint Louis University
Associate at National Great Rivers Research & Education Center

To successfully evaluate progress on nutrient reduction within the Mississippi River basin there must be agreement on the metrics that will be used to track success. Selecting a network of existing long-term water quality monitoring stations as trend sites and using a unified analysis method can help achieve that goal and greatly simplify the exploration of nutrient trends across states and watersheds. The objective of this study was to estimate the flow-normalized nutrient trends within sub-watersheds of the Mississippi River for the period of 2000-2020. For this, in-depth analysis and harmonization of nitrogen data, as well as an analysis of the flow dataset for nitrogen sites, was performed. The result was a robust dataset that has nutrient measurements for over 70% of the period of record. From this dataset, trends in nutrient concentrations and loads at each site were calculated using the Weighted Regression on Time, Discharge, and Season (WRTDS) method. These trends results can inform the success of nutrient reduction strategies applied over space and time and serve decision-support tools that can relate management actions directly to water quality in the Mississippi River Basin.

10-10:30 a.m.: The Great Rivers Ecological Observatory Network (GREON™): Lessons Learned from the First 10 Years of Automated Water Quality Monitoring

John J. Sloan, Ph.D.,
Soil and watershed scientist
National Great Rivers Research and Education Center

The National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC) initiated a continuous water quality monitoring effort in 2013 called the Great Rivers Ecological Observatory Network (GREON™). The foundation of the network was a fleet of floating platforms that housed the sensors, electronics, communications, and solar-power arrays that allowed each unit to continuously monitor water quality and to transmit the data offsite using a cellular modem. Each GREON unit collected the following water quality parameters: temperature, specific conductance, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, total chlorophyll, cyano bacteria, and fluorescing dissolved organic matter (fDOM). Data from the GREON units was regularly retrieved and stored on the Great Lakes to Gulf Virtual Observatory (GLTGVO). The original intent was to deploy the GREON units along the main channel of the Mississippi River and in backwater lakes. This presentation will cover the lessons learned regarding the deployment of free-floating water-quality monitoring platforms in lotic systems. Specific deployment sites will be discussed, including how water-quality data from the units has been used. The project is currently undergoing a transition into a second phase that will be based on lessons learned from the first 10 years of deployment.

10:45-11:15 a.m.: Investigating the Distribution of Meander Cutoffs and Ties to Glacial History in the Upper Midwest

Zachary Phillips, Ph.D.
Assistant professor, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department, School of Science and Engineering, Saint Louis University
WATER Institute PI
Taylor Geospatial Institute associate

Meander cutoffs are ubiquitous to the meandering river system and can be used as a tool to study the connections between the fluvial and geological systems. The distribution of meander cutoffs has important implications as a long-term proxy for fluvial erosion and is a relative indicator of fluvial stability. The mapping of meander cutoffs for a single river indicates the spatial pattern of fluvial stability. Here, we investigate the mapping of meander cutoffs for the Red River (or the North), which flows north along the axis of the late-Pleistocene glacial lake, Lake Agassiz (~30-7 kya). We explain the distribution of meander cutoffs by associating their overall distribution and relief to the glacial and lacustrine history of the region. Our mapping methodology includes a Local Relief Model-based mapping system using GIS and high-resolution lidar-derived Digital Elevation Models. Overall, we mapped 147 meander-cutoff landforms and found that the distribution and relief of meander-cutoff landforms are closely tied to the glacial and post-glacial geology of the region. Areas of meander cutoff clustering occur nearest to glacial landforms buried just beneath lacustrine clays. Our conclusions highlight the ties between the highly resistive quality of glaciolacustrine clay sediments to erosion and the effects of moraine and aeolian sands on accelerating fluvial erosion in clay-dominated geologic settings.

11:30 a.m.-12 p.m.: What is the Role of Groundwater in Transmitting Municipal Wastewater and Drinking Water to an Urban Stream?

Carly R. Finegan-Dronchi
Graduate research fellow, WATER Institute
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Saint Louis University

Municipal waters, including wastewater and drinking water, can enter the environment through intentional releases, aging infrastructure, or irrigation activities. While untreated wastewater entering the environment can threaten human health through the addition of pathogens, nutrients, or heavy metals, inputs of treated drinking water to water resources indicate wasteful water management practices. Municipal waters can contribute directly to surface water or groundwater systems, but, depending on local conditions, these waters and their associated ions and pollutants can further migrate via natural exchanges between surface water and groundwater supplies. To quantify municipal water inputs to an urban watershed and investigate water exchanges between the stream and shallow groundwater, we monitored Deer Creek and three proximal groundwater wells in Ladue, Missouri, from October 2022 to December 2023. The portion of Deer Creek that drains to the study site has historical problems with water quality, which motivated a major sewer renovation that was completed in 2021. While the stream no longer has direct inputs of raw wastewater from combined sewer overflows, residences in the area use treated drinking water for lawn irrigation and buried municipal water pipes may leak untreated wastewater and treated drinking water into the groundwater. Chemical (e.g., fluoride, boron, optical brighteners) and biological (e.g., E. coli) water quality parameters were assessed to determine the water sources to the stream and groundwater. Preliminary results show that the stream consistently had higher drinking water inputs than all the groundwater wells, but the groundwater wells had more variable municipal water contributions than the stream.

12-12:30 p.m.: Lunch Break

Please enjoy an opportunity to step away from your computer and grab some lunch!

12:30-1 p.m.: Improving the Detection of Forested Ephemeral Wetlands with Lidar Data

Ethan J. Kessler, Ph.D.
Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, Lewis and Clark Community College

Wetlands are indispensable natural resources providing significant societal and ecological value, yet we cannot truly determine the value of our wetland resources or adequately protect them without accurate, up-to-date maps of their location and coverage. Forested ephemeral wetlands (FEW) are among the most abundant and threatened wetland types in the forests of the midwestern and eastern United States, yet we know very little about their distribution. Due to their small size, temporary nature, and position under the tree canopy, traditional remote sensing methods are unable to reliably detect FEW. However, we have developed a method that allows for the remote detection of FEW using lidar data. Lidar is a remote sensing technique that provides a highly accurate model of the earth’s surface and has become increasingly available for no cost across the United States through government programs at the state and federal levels. We used publicly available lidar data throughout the Shawnee National Forest region in southern Illinois to detect potential FEW and determine the accuracy of our methods. Across our 15-county study region we detected 4,001 potential FEW, ground truthing 454 of them. We found that our methods provided a false positive (commission) error rate of 3.2% and, using a database of 220 previously identified wetlands, demonstrated a 0% false negative (omission) error rate. identified wetlands, demonstrated a 0% false negative (omission) error rate. Our methods provide a pathway towards improved accessibility for FEW research and conservation through highly accurate large-scale remote mapping of FEW.

1:15-1:45 p.m.: Characterizing Particulate Nutrient Loads in Rivers to Develop Predictive Contaminant Transport Models using Landsat Surface Reflectance Data

Teresa Baraza, Ph.D.,
Postdoctoral research associate in biogeochemistry, National Great Rivers Research and Education Center
WATER Institute, Saint Louis University

Excess nutrient (i.e., nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P)) contributions from agricultural activities can trigger eutrophication in waterbodies, leading to severe impacts on human and ecosystem health. While rivers are less frequently impacted by algal blooms than lentic or marine systems, they act as the main conduit for nutrient inputs to these waterbodies, ultimately controlling N and P delivery to downstream ecosystems. This study, therefore, aims to characterize N and P levels in the suspended loads of the agriculturally-impacted Mississippi River and Missouri River. For our study, we collected weekly water samples from both rivers <15 km upstream of their confluence from March 2021 to November 2021. Samples were characterized for suspended sediment concentration (SSC), and both particulate and dissolved organic carbon (OC), N, and P concentrations. For both rivers, we found positive and significant (p < 0.05) correlations between particulate nutrients and SSC, with correlations being stronger in the Missouri River (r > 0.73) compared to the Mississippi River (r > 0.57). We also observed positive and significant correlations between particulate N and P and particulate OC for the Mississippi River (r > 0.48), but this correlation was only significant in the Missouri River for particulate N (r = 0.44). Our preliminary data thus suggest that SSC derived from surface reflectance models could be used as a proxy for particulate N and P transport in both rivers, but interactions with OC may also play an important role in the transport and partitioning of these nutrients. Ongoing work involves relating our SSC and particulate nutrient correlations to an existing model for estimating SSC from Landsat imagery. These efforts will allow us to predict particulate nutrient loads delivered to downstream environments using only remotely sensed datasets.

2-2:30 p.m.: The Impacts of Hydraulic Modeling Methods on Bridge Scour Analysis

Amanda Cox, Ph.D., P.E.
Director, WATER Institute
Associate professor, civil engineering
Saint Louis University

Bridge scour is the leading cause of bridge failure in the United States. The threat it poses to critical infrastructure makes understanding, predicting, and preventing scour a priority for state DOTs. This study evaluated bridge scour conditions at five sites in Missouri to compare scour estimates from historical and contemporary hydraulic modeling methods and geospatial data resolutions. The models used to produce scour estimations were 1-D (HEC-RAS) and 2-D (SRH-2D) numerical hydraulic models, with the FHWA's hydraulic toolbox serving as the scour calculator. These results were compared with those from previous studies conducted by the USGS on the same bridge sites in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The results of the study include comparisons of hydraulic data outputs, scour outputs, model construction methods, calculation methods, and data collection methods. The study results reveal the limitations and disadvantages of using 1-D numerical models for scour analyses, the causes of differences in flow hydraulics and their effects on scour calculations, and recommendations for future research.

2:45-3:15 p.m.: Foraging Response of Bluegill ( Lepomis macrochirus ) to Microplastics and Subsequent Impacts on Swimming Performance

Michael Louison, Ph.D.
Assistant professor of biology and environmental studies, McKendree University
National Great Rivers Research and Education Center

Microplastics are an emerging threat to aquatic and terrestrial species, and growing evidence suggests a suite of negative impacts including reduced food consumption and direct physiological effects. Uptake of microplastics by animals can occur passively through accidental ingestion (i.e. fish swimming through contaminated water and taking microplastics into their buccal cavity/gills), or through active selection and consumption of particles. The rate of active plastic consumption for any animal depends on how well it can recognize and avoid eating the plastic. This likely has important impacts on the animal’s health and fitness, with subsequent impacts on reproductive fitness. In this study, we explored the willingness of bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) to directly consume microplastics (high-density polyethylene bag films or polypropylene rope fibers) and whether this varied with continued exposure over time. Wild-caught bluegill were stocked at densities of three or six individuals in 37 L aquaria and offered food (controls) or microplastics followed by food over a period of four to six days. Results showed that direct consumption of microplastics declined over time while foraging on food increased, indicating learned avoidance of microplastics. Foraging was impacted by plastic type, with Bluegill more likely to forage on films than fibers. Following group testing, each fish was assessed for swimming performance in a modified swim tunnel, however no significant differences were found in swimming performance between treatments. Our results add to the growing literature revealing how animals, including fish, may actively consume microplastics and the potential effects of that exposure.

3:30-4 p.m.: Taking the Hint from the Great Whales: A Custom-built Flume for the Study of Novel Crossflow Filters Designed for Microplastics Removal at Large Scale

Jean Potvin, Ph.D.,
Professor of physics, Physics Department
WATER Institute, Saint Louis University

Balaenid whales such as the right whale (Eubalaena spp.) are edentulous 20m-long cetaceans that use baleen plates and keratin bristle mats to bulk-capture, retain and ingest 0.5-to-15mm-long planktonic organisms. As such, these filter-feeding animals have evolved the capacity to efficiently collect similarly sized human-made detritus such as microplastics – unfortunately to their health’s detriment but fortunately to the benefit of environmental engineers. These whales collect prey in the bulk by slowly swimming through a large patch of prey with their mouth open, all the while continuously and intraorally separating the prey from its seawater matrix via a process known as crossflow filtration (CFF). CFF is a filtration mode in which the particulate-laden water isn’t forced to pass towards a membrane as in “dead-end” filtration (as with a colander) but past it, thereby leading to significantly lower rates of filter membrane clogging. CFF is seeing extensive use in industrial applications, as in winemaking, where large pressure gradients move the wine’s precipitates tangentially to the filtering surface but the wine itself through its sub-micron pores. In contrast, and instead built with sub-millimeter filter pores, baleen-based systems operate with significantly lower pressure gradients. Moreover, and while integrated in the mouth of truly gigantic animals, balaenid-based CFF filters could be used at the significantly larger scales required for the economic bulk-removal of microplastics from creeks, ponds, etc. This presentation will summarize the latest efforts of a group of SLU-based faculty members, students and collaborators in designing and building a water tunnel system aimed at testing novel 30%-scale balaenid filter models and their microplastics collection capacity. Preliminary results from the group’s study of the first filter prototype, which involves a balaenid-inspired membrane of varying thicknesses and void diameters, will be presented as well.

4-4:15 p.m.: Closing Remarks

Elizabeth Hasenmueller, Ph.D., associate director of the WATER Institute and associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, will give remarks to conclude the 2024 SLU Summit for Water.


The conference is free to attend and open to the public.


Registration is now open.

Register for the 2024 Summit

PDH Certificates

We will offer completion certificates to professional engineers for professional development hours for each session you attend on the day of the event. Based on Missouri guidelines, the panels and the keynote presentations will each earn one hour, and each research presentation will earn 0.5 hour. Please indicate during registration that you would like to receive PDH certificates. After the event, we will verify your attendance and follow up with the certificates in PDF format.

Unfortunately, we cannot provide certificates for those who view the recorded content after the summit.


Thank you to our 2024 SLU Summit for Water sponsors:

Aquifer Advocate

Logomark for Culligan


River Channel Champions

Logo for Waters


Waterdrop Defenders

Shimadzu Scientific Instruments Logo



About the WATER Institute

The Water Access, Technology, Environment and Resources (WATER) Institute at Saint Louis University is an interdisciplinary research institute with the mission of advancing water innovation to serve humanity. To learn more, please visit


Please contact Amanda Cox, director of the WATER Institute, at with questions or concerns regarding this event.