Minnesota Water Research Fund

Established by CEGE alumnus and water industry leader Bernie Bullert, the Minnesota Water Research Fund (MWRF) provides support for research in the areas of water resource management and water treatment. Funds may be used to support faculty or students. 

Water research has an essential role to play in the future of our cities, states, and nation – economically, socially and environmentally. Water resources touch virtually every aspect of our lives encompassing the water we drink, the quality of our streams and lakes, water supply and wastewater treatment, stormwater management, and the infrastructure necessary to make it all work together.

About the Fund

The Minnesota Water Research Fund provides research support for faculty and students of the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering working in water resources management and water treatment. Even as the research conducted solves current and emerging water quality problems, the Minnesota Water Research Fund also helps train students – the engineers and scientists for tomorrow’s water management and treatment industries. 

Bernie R. Bullert, a well-known and respected leader in the regional and national water and wastewater engineering field, created this fund in 2015 (read more here about what inspired Bullert to create the fund). Since its inception, additional alumni and friends of the college have also contributed to build the fund balance and an expert Advisory Committee has been formed. 

Research advances generated in the laboratory with the help of funding from MWRF  help guide critical water infrastructure decisions and investments across the state of Minnesota, particularly in those small communities where funds for water research, training, and education are scarce. 


Enable the University of Minnesota to be a national leader in innovative research to improve public health and protect Minnesota’s water resources.


  • Develop and support research ideas and priorities in any aspect of water in Minnesota, including climate change’s effects on MN water resources.
  • Achieve an endowed chair status for the fund by 2030 - a $2 million goal
  • Annually fundraise and fund top-quality water research at UMN


Our fund has already made an impact by supporting the following research projects:

  • 2024: Development of a Flexible and Encapsulated Microbial Community for the Two-Stage Anaerobic Treatment of Industrial Wastewaters: Professor Paige Novak
  • 2024: Proximity-ligation metagenomic sequence analysis to characterize Legionella pneumophila potentially contributing to an outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease: Professors Timothy LaPara and Raymond Hozalski
  • 2024: Persistence of Cyanotoxins in Minnesota Lakes: Roles of Changing Climate and Sunlight: Professor William Arnold with graduate student Abby Matheny
  • 2023: Identifying Novel Contaminants in Stormwater and Industrial Wastewater from Synthetic Polymer Use: Assistant Professor Boya Xiong and Ph.D. candidate Phoebe Keyes
  • 2023: Improving Climate Change Adaptation Tools: SWMM: Professor Emeritus John Gulliver, Dr. Andrew Erickson, and graduate student Noah Gallagher
  • 2022: Phosphorus Retention in Stormwater Ponds: Professor Emeritus John Gulliver with Ph.D. candidate Vinicius Taguchi
  • 2022: Quarternary Ammonium Compounds in MN Waters - Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Professor William Arnold
  • 2021: Impacts of vegetation on surface water/groundwater interactions: Assistant Professor Judy Yang
  • 2021: Purchase of ISCO automated water sampling devices for use in water research and teaching CEGE students. 
  • 2020: Optimization of Water Quality Monitoring in Streams: Adjunct Associate Professor Paul Capel  
  • 2019: Water-Conscious Cultivar Selection for Protecting Minnesota Groundwater: Assistant Professor Xue Feng with Ph.D. candidate Brandon Sloan  
  • 2018: Integrated Biocatalysis and Reactor Design for Clean Water and Energy from Waste: Professor Paige Novak 
  • 2018: N-nitrosodimethylamine Precursors in the Upper Mississippi River: Professor Raymond Hozalski  
  • 2017: Innovative Nitrogen Removal: Graduate student Anndee Huff working with Professor Paige Novak 

View MWRF Project Summaries

Water Research Recordings

MWRF regularly hosts virtual education events featuring UMN faculty and student researchers sharing updates about their water projects. To get invited to a future virtual event, join our mailing list

Recordings of Past Events:

Share Expertise

Contact Bernie Bullert (bernie.bullert@sl-serco.com) or another member of our MWRF Advisory Committee to become a thought-partner to help inform the development of research projects and priorities or to learn more about the MWRF Advisory Committee.

Advisory Committee Members

Bernie Bullert (Chair)  
BCE 1968, MBA 1977, University of Minnesota  
Consultant, SL-serco

Kelly Lange-Haider (Vice Chair) 
MS Civil Engineering, Colorado State University
Technical Consultant, Cycle Time Consulting, LLC 

David Allen  
BA Mass Comm. 1993, University of Minnesota  
President, SL-serco

Tricia Berger  
BSCE 2001, South Dakota State University  
Planning and Asset Management Lead, Black & Veatch

Lisa Cerney  
BCE 1999, University of Minnesota  
Assistant County Administrator, Hennepin County Public Works

Rebecca Foote  
MA Applied Geography 2017, University of Colorado  
Engineering Technician, City of Eagan

Heidi Hamilton  
MS Infrastructure Systems Engineering 2004, University of Minnesota  
Vice President, North Central Regional Business Leader/Community Development, Stantec

Paul Herubin

BS Civil Engineering 1992, University of Wisconsin-Platteville 
Metropolitan Council Environmental Services

Robert (Bo) Johnston  
MSCE 2005, University of Minnesota  
Senior Engineering Manager & Process Engineer  
Operations/Governments & Water Utilities, Black & Veatch

Kris Knutson  
MSCE 2020, North Dakota State University
MS Chemistry 2009, University of Minnesota Duluth
Drinking Water Project Manager, HDR

Naeem Qureshi 
MSCE 1985, University of Minnesota  
Client Services Manager, Sambatek

Michelle Stockness  
BSCiE 2001, University of Missouri-Columbia  
Executive Director, Freshwater

Stew Thornley   
BS Business Administration 1981, University of Minnesota  
Health Educator, Section of Drinking Water Protection, MN Department of Public Health

Steven Wolsfeld  
MSCE 1997, University of Minnesota  
Senior Vice President, CDM Smith

Shannon Wolkerstorfer   
University of Minnesota External Relations