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Deborah L. Swackhamer Early Career Award

Call for Nominations

The Deborah L. Swackhamer Early Career Award Nomination period ends May 4. Nominate someone today!

Portrait of Deborah Swackhamer before the capitol building

A longtime professor and administrator at the University of Minnesota, Deborah (Deb) Swackhamer was among the leading voices in the nation at the intersection of science, policy, and water resources. She conducted influential scientific work on the behavior of organic pollutants and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. In the broader water resources community, she is remembered for her advocacy of scientific integrity and for incorporating science-based knowledge into policy making. This work elevated her to numerous leadership roles at the state, national, and international levels. During her career, Deb mentored students and young faculty and ardently supported them, challenging them to conduct rigorous science, guiding them to successful careers and connecting them with colleagues in her network.

Following Deb’s untimely passing in 2021, the Minnesota Water Resources Conference committee approved a new award to be given in her name. In remembrance of her commitment to early career scientists and professionals, as well as her example of authentic leadership, the Deborah L. Swackhamer Early Career Award is meant to spotlight future leaders in the understanding, management, and care of our water resources.


This award is intended to recognize individuals early in their career working toward the betterment of Minnesota water resources. Eligibility is limited to individuals with 10 years or less of relevant experience. Current graduate students are eligible nominees. Current members of the Minnesota Water Resources Conference committee are not eligible.

Selection criteria

Inspired by Deb Swackhamer’s example and the values she imparted on those she mentored, this award will recognize authenticity, integrity, passion, and a mindset of service to others. Nominations should describe an individual’s exceptional contributions that are likely to shape Minnesota's water future. These contributions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Collaborating in ways that motivate and build the skills of others
  • Advancing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in workplaces and communities
  • Developing innovative approaches to address water resource problems
  • Communicating science to elucidate public debate and policy choices

How to submit a nomination

To submit a nomination, prepare a statement (up to 750 words) responding to each of the following:

  1. Briefly describe the nominee’s experience in water resources, and affirm that they meet the eligibility criteria.
  2. Describe how the nominee’s work, collaborations, and accomplishments fulfill the selection criteria.

The Minnesota Water Resources Conference collects nominations for the Deborah L. Swackhamer Award year-round. Nominations received by May 4, 2022, will be considered for the current calendar year's conference. Following that date, all nominations will be considered starting in the following calendar year. Nominations not selected for an award the first year they are considered will remain active for up to two additional years of eligibility.

The current year’s awardee will be announced on this webpage by September 1.