Daniel A. Nidzgorski, Ph.D.
I’m an ecosystem ecologist who works with carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycling, especially in urban and suburban landscapes.
I work for King County government (which includes Seattle, WA), in the Department of Natural Resources & Parks. I’m part of a small science team that supports a variety of projects, from long-term monitoring through environmental restoration. Most of my work focuses on lake and stream water quality, often working to reduce nutrient or bacteria pollution. But I also get a fun variety in my work, such as developing new methods to estimate carbon sequestration in County-owned forests.
I’m also passionate about communication and social justice as integral parts of doing good science. Check out the Science Communication section of this website for some resources I’ve developed to help other people be better communicators. Most of my equity and social justice work has focused close to home, striving to make my workplaces and other circles fully welcoming and supportive of every single scientist. I’ve created and led affinity groups of my fellow LGBTQ scientists, and I’ve developed workshops to engage my workplace or department in exploring, discussing, and practicing ways to improve our cultures and norms.
In 2014, I finished my Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, advised by Professor Sarah Hobbie. Part of my work was with the Twin Cities Household Ecosystem Project, where I analyzed opportunities to improve the ways we manage household wastes to reduce pollution and increase nutrient recycling. I also studied urban trees, which can act to both transport and retain nutrients. Boulevard trees, overhanging streets, drop a lot of leaves and other nutrient-rich material into the street gutters, where it washes down the storm drains and pollutes local lakes and streams. However, I also found evidence that trees can reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus leaching down through the soil to reach groundwater.
Another interest of mine is nutrient recycling, returning nitrogen and phosphorus to agricultural systems instead of letting them go to waste. My work as a postdoctoral researcher developed new strategies for recycling organic wastes at the statewide scale in Minnesota. Food waste can be used in livestock feed, for example, or composted and applied to croplands — deciding which is “better” is a complex question that needs to look at not only nutrient cycling, but also energy use, distances between sources and uses, public health, social acceptance and participation, and more. I was the team expert on biosolids (from wastewater treatment), which are commonly applied to cropland, pasture, or forest land as fertilizer, composted with other organics (such as sawdust) for home and landscaping use, or burned or digested for bioenergy.