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New Faculty Focus: Hilary Dugan

October 9, 2017

Title: Assistant Professor in Integrative Biology

Hometown: Woodstock, Ontario, Canada

Educational background: BSc, Queen’s University, 2008; MSc, Queen’s University, 2010; Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, 2014.

Hilary Dugan

Previous position: Postdoctoral Fellow, UW–Madison, Center for Limnology

How did you get into your field of research? I was always fascinated by earth sciences, and how ecosystems worked. During my undergrad, I worked as a research assistant in the Canadian Arctic and fell in love with fieldwork and studying global change. At some point, my interests narrowed to water, and eventually lakes. Having grown up around lakes, this was probably a natural progression, but it took me a while to get there.

What attracted you to UW–Madison? As a limnologist, there’s no better place in the world to study lakes.

What was your first visit to campus like? Having driven the I90/94 corridor many times, and having never stopped in Madison, I was shocked at how beautiful the city was. I remember driving down John Nolen Drive, and thinking how spectacular the Madison skyline looked across Lake Monona. People were biking and boating everywhere! On the opposite side of the isthmus, nestled along the shores of Lake Mendota, UW-campus was just as beautiful. At the time, I didn’t want to leave. Turns out, I don’t have to.

Favorite place on campus? The Memorial Union is top in my books. If you can’t be out on Lake Mendota, spending time on its shore is the next best thing.

What are you most enjoying so far about working here? UW-Madison felt like home the minute I started working here. Across campus, people are welcoming and collaborative. Campus is a giant hive of activity and it is easy to get lost in all of the opportunities.

Do you feel your work relates in any way to the Wisconsin Idea?  Lakes are integral to Wisconsin in every region of the state. They are used for recreation, fishing, and drinking water. Through my research, I hope to bring more awareness to water quality issues across Wisconsin, and work towards cleaner lakes that can be enjoyed by more citizens.

What’s something interesting about your area of expertise you can share that will make us sound smarter at parties? Lake Mendota is one of the most studied lakes in the world! For instance we have over 150 years of lake ice data. In the 1850s, Lake Mendota averaged ~120 days a year with lake ice. Recently it has been closer to 80 days, and 2015/16 and 2016/17 were only 62 and 65 days. Lake ice is great for recreating. You can ski, fish, or just walk around, and it is accessible to everyone! So go enjoy it while you can.

Hobbies/other interests: Biking, skiing, squash… generally being outside. And building/fixing things.