Waist-deep in ecological integrity

By Erik Ness

Bill Mitsch ’69, a professor of natural resources and environmental science at Ohio State University, hit a political nerve when he spoke up about how heavy human hands on the Mississippi River had exacerbated the problems in New Orleans.

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The Littlest Killers

By Erik Ness

In the spring of 1855, Father Edward Sorin, CSC, must have cast a troubled gaze upon the marshy land surrounding Saint Mary’s and Saint Joseph’s lakes. Only the year before a typhoid epidemic had devastated the Notre Dame campus, and now two early deaths in March suggested the fever would rise again. The likely cause, the University’s founder believed, was high lake levels caused by a dam on a neighboring farm. Malaria, cholera and yellow fever plagued Notre Dame’s early years, and Sorin blamed the over-full lakes. When the landowner reneged on negotiations to sell, Sorin famously took matters into hand and sent a half dozen men over to tear down the dam.…

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The Village Well

By Erik Ness

At the end of a dirt road, on a rickety bus parked in a teak grove, Tchomi-Kandi Mondja keeps her eyes on a small jar of liquid. With a team of fellow students from the University of Notre Dame and the Université d’Abomey-Calavi (UAC) in the West African country of Benin, she’s helping filter a single liter of water, but each step in the process is moving slowly. The air in the bus is still and heavy. Moisture beads on foreheads. Outside, a gaggle of children gawk and giggle.…

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Attack of the Aliens

By Erik Ness

Sitting in the stern of his sturdy gray lab boat, David Lodge is sexing crayfish.

Reaching into a white plastic bucket, he plucks a rusty crayfish from the tangled mass of scratching, frothing, gnawing crustaceans. The angry critter waves his pincers in futile menace as the Notre Dame ecologist applies his calipers with practiced ease.…

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