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Kelly L Warner

Kelly is the Deputy Director of Science for the USGS Central Midwest Water Science Center and manages a science and research program of $14.6M and over 65 staff. 

Kelly has been on the leading edge of new technology and interpretive science. She began her career as a graduate student collecting surface water data and working on an urban lake project.  As digital spatial applications evolved, she developed an international study of groundwater quality in the Great Lakes basin that was supported by International Joint Commission. Kelly helped to write the groundwater and urban water component of the first biennial report on Great Lakes groundwater quality as part of international Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Kelly and colleagues presented this research to the International Association of Hydrogeologists in Rome, Italy, on the impact of urban development on water quality for US and Canada.

Kelly spent part of her career as Regional Aquifer Coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program where she led a regional team of hydrologists from Maine to Washington on investigations of water quality in the glacial aquifer system. New analytical and interpretive methods were used for understanding changes in water quality across northern United States including methods of arsenic speciation and redox mapping. As a supervisor of water quality studies in Illinois, Kelly helped grow a large program using new methods for continuous monitoring of nitrate and phosphate. The network in Illinois was one of the largest in the country which led to her participation in a Congressional briefing in Washington, DC on the science and interpretive value of the new continuous nutrient sensors.  Since 2017, she has been the Deputy Director of Science and leading innovative science and research on water resources in Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri.


Education and Certifications

  • B.S., Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois

  • M.S. Northern Illinois University, De Kalb, Illinois

  • University of Illinois, additional study, Urbana, Illinois 

Affiliations and Memberships*

  • Illinois Nutrient Monitoring Council

  • Prairie Research Institute Technical Advisory Board

  • USGS Diversity and Inclusion Regional and National (interim) Councils from 2015-2021

  • Upper Mississippi River Basin Association Water Quality Task Force

  • Illinois Coordinating Committee on Groundwater

Honors and Awards

  • USGS Superior Service Award

  • USGS Shoemaker Award (2010 and 2019)

  • National Association of Government Communicators Blue Pencil Award for Excellence (2019).

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Commander Coin for Excellence, Rock Island District (2019)

Abstracts and Presentations

  • Warner, K., Howard, K., Gerber, R. Soo Chan, G., and Ford, D., 2016. Effects of urban development on groundwater. Chapt. 6 in Grannemann, G. and Van Stempvoort, D. (Eds.), Groundwater science relevant to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement: A status report. Final version, May, 2016. Published (online) by Environment and Climate Change Canada and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

  • Howard, K., Ricardo, H., Shivakoti, B.R., Warner, K., Gogu, R., Nkhuwa, D., 2015, Resilient cities and groundwater.  Foster, S. and Tyson, G., eds., International Association of Hydrogeologists, publisher.

  • Warner, K.L., and Howard, K.W.F, 2015, United States and Canada Assess the Impact of Urban Development on Groundwater Quality—Example from the Great Lakes Basin:  42nd Congress of the International Association of Hydrogeologists, Rome, Italy, September, 2015, 

Science and Products

*Disclaimer: Listing outside positions with professional scientific organizations on this Staff Profile are for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of those professional scientific organizations or their activities by the USGS, Department of the Interior, or U.S. Government