Kurt Kowalski, Ph.D.

My work differs from that of many other scientists because, although I am a Research Wetland Ecologist with a research focus on Great Lakes coastal wetland habitats and invasive plant species (e.g., Phragmites australis), I have extensive involvement in the application of research results into practice and policy (e.g., development of novel adaptive management approaches).


What is the role of hydrologic connectivity in the rehabilitation and adaptive management of diked and coastal wetland ecosystems in the Great Lakes? 

Can we find sustainable control approaches for Phragmites australis (Common Reed) and other invasive plant species? 

What is the landscape-scale potential for coastal wetland habitat rehabilitation throughout the Great Lakes basin?

These are a few of the research questions that I have been working on during my 23+ years at the Great Lakes Science Center.  My master’s work in GIS and remote sensing at Eastern Michigan University and doctoral studies at the University of Michigan provided a solid foundation for extensive work with USFWS refuges (Detroit River, Ottawa, Seney, Shiawassee), Ohio DNR, Michigan DNR, The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, and many other partners.  I’ve studied the diked and coastal marshes of western Lake Erie for many years and continue to work with managers to apply site specific results at national scales.  Leadership experiences at the National Conservation Leadership Institute and within USGS have helped me produce some innovative science and push our research teams in new directions.



Ph.D. (Aquatic Ecology), University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources & Environment, 2010

M.S. (Geography with concentration on Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing), Eastern Michigan University, 2000

B.S. (Natural Resources Policy and Behavior), University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and Environment, 1994


Professional Work Experience:

Research Ecologist, Coastal Ecosystems Branch, 11/06 – present, U.S.G.S. – Great Lakes Science Center, Ann Arbor, MI

Geographer, Coastal and Wetland Ecology Branch, 3/97 – 11/06, U.S.G.S. – Great Lakes Science Center, Ann Arbor, MI

Biological Science Laboratory Technician (Plants), Coastal and Wetland Ecology Branch, 1/95 – 1/97, U.S.G.S. – Great Lakes Science Center, Ann Arbor, MI


Select Professional Activities:

National Conservation Leadership Institute 2.0, 2018

National Conservation Leadership Institute, Cohort 7, 2012

Professional Wetland Scientist (P.W.S.) Certification, Society of Wetland Scientists, 2001 – Present

Regional Contact, North Central Chapter, Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS), 2012 – Present

President, North Central Chapter, SWS, 2004 – 2007

Mentor, Mentoring Program for USGS Employees, 2013 - 2014

Member, Society of Wetland Scientists, 1994 – Present

Member, American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 1994 – Present 

Member, Gamma Theta Upsilon, International Geographical Honor Society, 1998 – Present  

Member, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2006 – Present

Member, American Water Resources Association, 2017 – Present


Select Research Projects:

Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Restoration Assessment: geonarrative and mappers (Western Lake Erie, Connecting River Systems, Saginaw Bay)

Developing New Strategies for Restoring Coastal Wetland Function: summary or information sheet

Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative

Forecasting Potential Phragmites Invasion Corridors and Detection and Monitoring of Invasive Phragmites in the Coastal Great Lakes

GLRI Phragmites Decision Support Tool Mapper

Innovative Phragmites-Control Strategies

GLRI Summary of Invasive Phragmites Research Projects