Interview of William J. Mitsch by Alice Duncanson

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William J. "Bill" Mitsch discusses his 26-year career at Ohio State as a Professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources, and in particular, his role as Director and founder of the University's Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park (ORWRP). A native of Wheeling, West Virginia, Mitsch graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1969 with a degree in mechanical/industrial engineering. He first worked for large utilities, but in 1970, he attended an Earth Day event, and he was inspired to return to graduate school at the University of Florida to earn a doctorate in Environmental Engineering Sciences. He earned his Ph.D. in 1975. While teaching later at the University of Louisville, he met the founder of the International Society for Ecological Modeling, Professor Sven Jorgensen of the Danish University of Pharmaceutical Sciences, who ended up having a great influence on Mitsch, in the burgeoning field of digital modeling of ecosystems. In 1986, he was hired by Ohio State's School of Natural Resources, and, having previously worked on the Des Plaines River Wetland Demonstration Project, Mitsch decided to create something similar at OSU. The wetlands park opened in 1994. Mitsch discusses how the ORWRP earned the internationally recognized Ramsar wetland designation, and he also explains how wetlands work and how important they are in fighting climate change. In 2004, Mitsch shared the Stockholm Water Prize with Jorgensen. He also discusses his role in a successful effort in 2012 to prevent Columbia Gas from laying a pipeline through the ORWRP. That year Mitsch retired from Ohio State and became Eminent Scholar and Director of the Everglades Wetland Research Park at Florida Gulf Coast University. He retired from that position in 2022.


Remote interview.