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2023 Candidate Roger Viadero

Roger Viadero
Professor and Director
Western Illinois University

Like many of you, I wear a number of different hats. Currently, I’m the Director of Western Illinois University’s Institute for Environmental Studies (IES) and am the founding Chair of the University’s interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Environmental Science. I’m also a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.

My area of specialization is the remediation of natural aquatic systems that have been adversely impacted by human activity. As a Ph.D. environmental engineer, my development as an ecological scientist is somewhat nontraditional. Early in my career, I was fortunate to have been actively mentored by scientists from a number of complementary disciplines including botany, aquatic ecology, hydrology, and fisheries science. With their support, I was able to focus on bringing added value to remediation by integrating solid principles from ecology and related areas of science. This has resulted in application-orientated research insights that support the development of resilient remediation approaches that work with natural processes.

Since my work cuts across several traditional academic disciplines, I’ve found that it’s important to establish and maintain professional credentials that complement my education; to that end, I’ve been an Ecological Society of America Certified Senior Ecologist for more than 12 years and am a Board-Certified Environmental Engineering Member of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists with a specialization in site remediation.

In addition to my position at Western, I’ve served as the President of the Aquacultural Engineering Society and continue to serve on the editorial board of the Journal of Aquacultural Engineering. I was also the panel manager for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Aquaculture Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program for aquaculture and aquatic products. I have also worked as an expert witness in state and federal jurisdictions.

What interests, experience or skills would you bring to this position?

I’m fortunate to live and work adjacent to/on/in the Mississippi River. This provides me with limitless opportunities to integrate my professional interests with recreational and service activities. For example, I spend a great deal of my personal time working with regional groups to provide middle and high school students with experiences that educate, enrich, and engage children who often don’t have the opportunity to encounter nature in meaningful ways. These activities range from kayaking and fishing to interpretive tours of wetlands and riverfronts. I’ve recently expanded this work to include members of community groups who live near/adjacent to the Mississippi River and its tributaries but have relatively few personal experiences with the flora and fauna of these systems. As a prior longtime resident of West Virginia, I enjoy traveling “home” with my family to recharge in the mountains. While traveling, I enjoy taking photos and videos of unique aquatic systems that I incorporate into my teaching and outreach materials.

How would you support ESA’s mission? How would you plan to promote DEIJ in ESA membership and activities if elected?

As a member of the Board of Professional Certification, I see opportunities to grow our work with stakeholders from related fields and scientific organizations. By promoting a mutual exchange of ideas, the practice of ecology can be enriched, while simultaneously enhancing the ecological literacy of people in allied fields. For example, broadening continuing professional education opportunities for ESA members by including complementary activities with other groups can be a significant way to grow productive relationships with others in ways that ultimately support the collective growth in engagement and relevance for all participants. This effort directly supports ESA’s mission to advance the science and practice of ecology while also growing the resources available to conduct ecological science and creating ambassadors who can help to support ESA’s efforts to engage policymakers. I look forward to doing my part to engage prospective and current members in ways that support the recruitment and retention of a membership that’s as diverse as the field we study! In particular, I plan to support closer relationships between student members and certified ecologists as an additional way to meet people where they are – not where we think they should be.