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, WA (which includes Seattle). I’m in the Science Section of the Water & Land Resources Division, working on lakes and streams assessment. I’m part of a small science team that supports a variety of projects, from long-term monitoring through environmental restoration.
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.