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Board Members

Our Water Research Advisory Board is comprised of a wide range of water resource professionals. Click on the links below to learn more about the agencies and people who help us determine water research priorities and select water-focused projects for funding through the USGS 104(b) Oklahoma Competitive Water Research Grants Program.

  • Cherokee Nation
    • Representative: Sara Hill, Secretary of Natural Resources

      Education: Bachelor’s degree, Northeastern State; Universitylaw degree, University of Tulsa

      Primary Job Responsibilities: My primary job duties are to oversee our environmental programs, environmental resources, cultural resources, solid waste and fish and wildlife departments. I also work on intergovernmental and intertribal environmental issues with a focus on protecting water rights and water resources.

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects: I am particularly concerned with surface and groundwater quality and how to reduce erosion and nutrient pollution in our scenic rivers. Projects that focus on nutrient pollution, stream bank erosion, stormwater run-off, and/or sustainable agriculture are appealing to me.

      Hot topics at my organization: Water quality and quantity issues that may arise from an increase in poultry production in northeast Oklahoma.


  • Chickasaw Nation
    • Representative: Wayne Kellogg, Engineer

      Education: BS Geological Engineer, South Dakota School of Mines; MS Civil Engineer, University of Oklahoma

      Primary Job Responsibilities: I write water related grants for the tribe and work with our environmental and natural resource group.

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects: I vote for research that will address supply and demands as well as water quality issues, and meet sustainability goals for our communities.

      Hot topics at my organization: adaptation to climate change, particularly droughts; aquifer recharge; reuse of treated wastewater, water conservation


  • Environmental Federation of Oklahoma
    • Representative: Howard (Bud) Ground, President

      Education: BS Mechanical Engineer from Oklahoma State, MBA from Oklahoma City University

      Primary Job Responsibilities: representing industry in the regulatory and legislative areas in environmental, safety and health and wildlife issues

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects: I look for projects that will help industry solve water availability, quantity and quality problems, and research to advance science and understanding.

      Hot topics at my organization: Produced water recycling, reuse and ultimate disposal; water quality standards; filtration for a variety of processes.


  • Grand River Dam Authority
    • Representative: Ed Fite, Water Quality Coordinator; Vice-President of Scenic Rivers and Water Quality

      Education: B.S. Accounting, Northeastern State University

      Primary Job Responsibilities: I am responsible for coordination of scenic rivers and water quality/quantity issues with landowners, local, state, federal and tribal officials/agencies and non-government organizations in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri. This responsibility includes undertaking actions to mitigate both point and non-point sources of pollutants. Additionally, I am responsible for implementing the provisions of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Act, including administering applicable rules/policy related to land use and recreational use.

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects: I focus on the attributes of each proposed project, looking for those that lend themselves to finding a balance between protection (and improvement) of water quality and ensuring a robust economy. I believe they are not mutually exclusive; both are achievable.

      Hot topics at my organization: FERC relicensing of the Pensacola Dam/Project; Comprehensive Water Plan for the Grand River Basin; reliable potable water sources; appropriate level of water-based recreation; streambank and shoreline protection and clean-up; riparian protection conservation easements; partnering to improve environments within tri-state mining area; population explosion within the Illinois River Basin


  • The Ground Water Protection Council
    • Representative: Dan Yates, Executive Director

      Education: Bachelor of Vocal Music Education, Oklahoma City University, 1999, Master of Public Administration, OU, 2007

      Primary Job Responsibilities: Associate Executive Director, lead staff on water quality and UIC policy, staff the GWPC Board of Directors, project management for state oil and gas data management projects, maintain state membership from groundwater, source water protection, UIC , and oil and gas programs

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects: I pay specific attention to groundwater quality and quantity issues

      Hot topics at my organization: PFAS, produced water management and use, state/EPA cooperative federalism, induced seismicity, UIC, volunteer source water protection efforts


      Read more about The Ground Water Protection Council.

  • Lugert-Altus Irrigation District
    • Representative: Tom Buchanan, District Manager


      Primary Job Responsibilities:

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects:

      Hot topics at my organization:

  • The Nature Conservancy
    • Representative: Kimberly Elkin, Freshwater Conservation Program Manager

      Education: BS, Environmental Biology; MS, Zoology; 15 hours away from Masters in Water Resources Policy and Management

      Primary Job Responsibilities: I direct a Statewide Freshwater Conservation Program with emphasis on rivers and streams on TNC’s preserves

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects: TNC has a vested interest in freshwater conservation so working towards water sustainability is a high priority and protecting aquatic species and aquatic habitat from further degradation.

      Hot topics at my organization: wind siting, freshwater conservation, soil health, building healthy cities, stream restoration, prescribed burning, invasive species management, monarch collaborative


  • Oklahoma Conservation Commission
    • Representative: Trey Lam, Executive Director

      Education: BA American Studies, Yale University

      Primary Job Responsibilities: Oversee of 84 local conservation districts, state cost program to install conservation practices, 2107 flood control dams, EPA 319 non-point source water quality program, and abandon mine lands program

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects: Any research that provides information on reducing erosion and nutrient runoff or that promotes no til, cover crops and grazing management will get brownie points.

      Hot topics at my organization: Efficacy and economics of soil health practices, aquifer recharge, stream bank erosion and water quality


      Read more about Trey Lam and the OCC.

  • Oklahoma Corporation Commission
    • Representative: Dana Murphy, Commissioner

      Regular Delegate: Jeff Myers

      Education: BS in Environmental and Health Science

      Primary Job Responsibilities: oil and gas regulatory compliance, grant compliance, and environmental services

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects: I look for research that will have an impact on the environment and the health of citizens, while maintaining a sustainable and responsible use of our natural resources.

      Hot topics at my organization: produced water issues, induced seismicity, well completion impact, and water reuse issues


  • Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry
    • Representative: Jeremy Seiger, Environmental Programs Director

      Education: Animal production farm (formative years), BS and MS degree in Plant and Soil Sciences and a minor in geology (OSU, Go Pokes!)

      Primary Job Responsibilities: I work with the division staff to coordinate and oversee environmental policies and programs and to provide protection for the waters of Oklahoma from agriculture operations, while maintaining environment compatibility with agriculture production.

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects: I try to keep an open mind when it comes to voting on projects. I look at how the project is directly relevant to the responsible areas of the Department of Agriculture and its impact on scientific advancements.

      Hot topics at my organization: pesticide drift issues, poultry growth in eastern Oklahoma and its potential environmental impacts, industrial hemp, potential water quality impacts from neighbor agriculture/animal activities, and the periodic drought on Oklahoma farming and ranching operations

      Other Notables: My hobbies include woodworking, fishing, hunting, riding 4-wheelers, game night, and spending time with family and friends.


      Read more about Jeremy Seiger and ODAFF.

  • Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality
    • Representative: Joe Long, Environmental Programs Manager


      Primary Job Responsibilities:

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects:

      Hot topics at my organization:


  • Oklahoma Department of Transportation
    • Representative: Thaddaeus Babb, Waterways Program Manager

      Education: BS in Organizational Psychology (Northeastern State University), MS in Industrial Organizational Dynamics (Walden University), Graduate Certification in Human Resources Management (Walden University). I am currently pursuing a Doctorate in Business Administration. Most recently, I became a certified inland marine port executive through the International Association of Maritime and Port Executives.

      Primary Job Responsibilities: I market the assets and capabilities of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System and all associated intermodal transportation systems through various outreach initiatives and activities, in partnership with public and private port operators and stakeholders along the MKARNS and through the development of working relationships with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, and elected officials and their staff. Additionally, it is my responsibility to coordinate activities of the ODOT Executive Director’s Waterways Advisory Board based on matters relevant to the promotion and viability of Oklahoma’s commercially navigable waterway.

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects: I consider how proposed projects align with the mission of ODOT as well as their potential impact on our state’s economy.

      Hot topics at my organization: McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, The ‘Go-Dot’ Program, ODOT 8-Year Plan


      Read more about ODOT.

  • Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
    • Representative: J.D. Strong, Director

      Regular Delegate: Kurt Kuklinski

      Education: B.A. Biology, College of Saint Scholastica; M.S. Zoology, University of Oklahoma.

      Primary Job Responsibilities: I supervise all aquatic research at ODWC, overseeing both internal projects and those by university research partners.

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects: I look for projects that are well designed and applied.

      Hot topics at my organization: Alligator Gar research, hunter and angler outreach and engagement, ODWC headquarters office renovation.


  • Oklahoma Farm Bureau
    • Representative: Marla Peek, Director of Regulatory Affairs

      Education: BS degree in Agriculture Communications, Oklahoma State University; MA degree in English, Creative Studies, University of Central Oklahoma

      Primary Job Responsibilities: Work with federal, state and local government agencies on regulations affecting agriculture; assist with state legislation; manage activities of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau Legal Foundation; coordinate litigation with other state Farm Bureaus and Oklahoma organizations and associations.

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects: Votes on the Board are informed by Oklahoma and American Farm Bureau Federation policies.

      Hot topics at my organization: private property rights, agricultural stormwater, navigation beneficial use for commodity shipping


  • Oklahoma Municipal League
    • Representative: Sue Ann Nicely, General Counsel & Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs

      Education:Political Science Public Affairs (OSU, 1979), Economics (OSU, 1980), Juris Doctorate (O.U. College of Law, 1983)

      Primary Job Responsibilities:Chief legal officer (all things legal internally and with our members) and deputy director for internal affairs (internal management, personnel, finance and the like)

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects:Water availability and regulation is a major concern since our municipal members are major water suppliers including delivery/treatment/waste water for cities and towns and our rural neighbors.

      Hot topics at my organization:


  • Oklahoma Rural Water Association
    • Representative: James Gammill, Executive Director

      Regular Delegate: Jeannie Anthony


      Primary Job Responsibilities:

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects:

      Hot topics at my organization:


  • Oklahoma Water Resources Board
  • USDA Agricultural Research Service
    • Representative: Sherry Hunt, Research Leader

      Education: B. S. and M. S. Biosystems Engineering, Oklahoma State University; PhD. Civil Engineering, Colorado State University

      Primary Job Responsibilities: Plan and conduct research to develop knowledge for the design and analysis of safe, economical structures and channels for the conveyance, storage, disposal, and measurement of runoff waters. Publish research results in scientific journals. Provide administrative supervision of staff and manage facilities and budget.

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects: I gravitate towards research focused on developing engineering tools, design guides, and methodologies related to soil erosion and flood control.

      Hot topics at my organization: rehabilitation of aging flood control infrastructure, embankment erosion and breach failure, extreme flood events, forensic embankment failure investigations, drought, and seismic activity surrounding embankment dams


  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
    • Representative: Chris Stoner, State Conservation Engineer

      Education: B.S. in Agricultural Engineering from Texas A&M University; Licensed Professional Engineer in OK and TX.

      Primary Job Responsibilities: All engineering activities for the agency dealing with soil conservation and erosion control, land management and restoration, water resources, animal waste management, irrigation, energy conservation, and flood control

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects: The mission of my agency is “Helping People Help the Land.” With that in mind, I focus on projects that have the most potential for broad reaching impacts to the natural resources of the state and will positively impact the most people.

      Hot topics at my organization: new upland flood control structures, rehabilitation of aging flood control infrastructure, management of existing flood control structures, soil health, and staffing levels to adequately address these topics


  • USDC-NOAA The National Weather Service
    • Representative: Bekki Harjo, Senior Hydrologist, Arkansas-Red River Basin Forecast Center

      Education: BS & MS in Civil Engineering; PhD in Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering, OSU; Juris Doctorate

      Primary Job Responsibilities: Depending on the day I may be covering the radar shift to gather data and QC data, doing river forecasting, or doing background development work such as model calibration and rating curve updates.

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects: Our office is especially interested in projects that would lessen the impacts of weather, water, and climate events; protect life and property; and enhance the economy.

      Hot topics at my organization: Water quantity and quality modeling, flood inundation mapping, meteorological and hydrological modeling improvements


      Read more about Bekki Harjo and the NWS.

  • USDD Army Corps of Engineers
    • Representative: Stephen L. Nolen, Chief, Environmental Analysis and Compliance Branch

      Regular Delegate: Tonya Dunn


      Primary Job Responsibilities:

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects:

      Hot topics at my organization:


  • USDI EPA-Kerr Lab
  • USDI Fish and Wildlife Service
    • Representative: Jonna Polk, Field Supervisor


      Primary Job Responsibilities:

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects:

      Hot topics at my organization:


  • USDI Geological Survey
    • Representative: Matthew Varonka, Studies Chief

      Education: BS, Chemistry, Penn State University; PhD, Inorganic Chemistry, Georgetown University

      Primary Job Responsibilities: Supervise approximately ten hydrologists who conduct interpretive studies of surface-water, groundwater, and water-quality issues within Oklahoma in cooperation with federal, state, local, and tribal entities.

      How these responsibilities affect my vote on projects: I focus on innovative projects that provide opportunities for student hydrologists.

      Hot topics at my organization: Assessing water availability using groundwater-flow modeling; water-quality studies of urban runoff


      Read more about the USGS Water Science Center.