Harris is a 2013-2017 Self Graduate Fellow pursuing a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology. He has been tied to water his whole life. Early on, it was through elite-level competitive swimming and sailing. Now, he is connected through research related to pollution of freshwater – a topic about which he is passionate. The reason: “life as we know it depends on access to clean freshwater.” Harris first explored the interconnectedness of water and life as an undergraduate. He earned a B.S in fisheries and wildlife as well as a B.S in forestry and a minor in biology (2009) from the University of Missouri-Columbia. During that time he was a U.S. National, U.S. Open, and U.S. Olympic Trial qualifier in swimming. He also received Big 12 Conference Academic First-Team honors. As he pursued a master’s degree in natural resources (2012) from the University of Idaho-Moscow, Harris pursued his research on a global scale. He focused on potential management strategies designed to reduce the occurrence of toxic blooms of cyanobacteria, which result from human-induced nutrient pollution of surface waters. He worked with 10 researchers and data from 2,073 lakes around the world to see if the results of his research could be applied to aquatic systems worldwide. His research will ultimately help the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers make progress towards recovering Willow Creek Reservoir in Oregon from toxic algae blooms. Harris worked as a GTA and GRA at the University of Idaho, and most recently worked as a hydrologic technician for the U.S. Geological Survey in Lawrence, Kan. Harris intends to devote his professional career to conducting research that identifies issues that cause degradation of freshwater resources. Through hard data and hard work, he wants to help develop policies aimed at improving the stewardship, management, and protection of surface water.
Mentor: Val H. Smith, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology