Samuel ZIPPER, PhD in Freshwater and Marine Science (USA)

Samuel holds a PhD in Freshwater and Marine Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, and will begin a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences at McGill University, Canada in November 2016.

Current position: Postdoctoral Fellow at McGill University, Canada

Research focus: Ecohydrology

His research is situated within the field of ecohydrology, which focuses on the feedback between vegetation and the water cycle. He also believes that local solutions are required to achieve global sustainability goals and that working across disciplines is an essential part of the modern scientist's toolbox. He also writes about ecohydrology on the WaterUnderground blog.

In 2015 he was awarded a Green Talent. He has worked closely with a far-reaching set of collaborators from institutions including the National University of San Luis, Argentina, the International Water Centre, Australia and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Germany. With a fellowship from the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Centre he will begin his research stay in Germany in the fall of 2016.

2016 James R. Villemonte Excellence in Research Award, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
2014 Awarded fellowship by National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center

CV as submitted for the Green Talents award (2015):


Research focus: Ecohydrological processes within urban and agricultural environments

PhD Student Samuel Zipper took his first steps into the field of water science during family trips to Washington State parks as a child. This early interest has now been cultivated into Samuel’s focused and valuable research into ecohydrology.

Having grown up around nature in Washington State, Samuel Zipper developed a childhood curiosity in the environment. This led to him taking his Bachelor’s in Geology and Environmental Analysis at Pomona College, where he became increasingly fascinated by how water interacts with the natural and human-modified ecosystems that rely on it. Now pursuing a PhD in Wisconsin, Samuel has become more focused on feedbacks between water and vegetation in agricultural and urban environments. Samuel maintains a strong belief in the value of local-level research to provide answers to some global ecohydrological questions. As such, his dissertation focuses on the patterns found in Southern Wisconsin’s own Yahara River Watershed.

Although his dissertation research takes place close to his Madison, Wisconsin home, Samuel still believes that “a truly international perspective is required to design local or site-specific research within the context of critical global-scale questions in sustainability science”. This belief, that the local needs to interact with the global in order to offer the best solutions, has led Samuel to  seek projects outside his comfort zone. He has helped organise an international team of graduate students from the USA, Germany and Australia whose study in floods and droughts was rewarded with a fellowship from the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC). Samuel’s work has connections to Germany’s strong tradition in ecohydrology research and for this reason the Green Talents award appealed to him greatly.

The jury applauded Samuel’s ambitious approach to his research and his unwavering curiosity. Samuel’s hope is to further broaden the impact of his work by being in communication with underrepresented members of the global agricultural community.