Q&A with Dr. Ryan J. Winston

Nov. 21, 2018
Dr. Ryan J. Winston, Assistant Professor

Ryan J. Winston is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering and Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering at the Ohio State University.  Winston focuses on the sustainable management of water in urban, suburban, and rural areas. His research group specializes in site assessment, monitoring, modeling, and management services that help partners make better decisions about watershed management. Their goal is to improve the management of stormwater in Ohio and beyond through innovative treatment system design, performance evaluation, and models to conduct alternative analysis. 

1. What is your research focus?

My research focuses around sustainable solutions to water quality problems.  Specifically, I work on best management practice performance and stream health questions in urban and agricultural watersheds.  Much of my research focuses on green infrastructure in urban areas to determine best methods to manage stormwater.  I am currently working to quantify the performance of bioretention and permeable pavement being installed in Clintonville as part of Blueprint Columbus. We answer questions related to runoff hydrology, water quality, and stream health.  My research group works in an interdisciplinary fashion with integration of topics such as economics, aquatic and terrestrial ecology, ecosystem services, public health, and policy.  

2. What initially got you interested in water quality?

Clean water is central to life.  Growing up in Florida, I spent a lot of my childhood playing in and around water. I've always enjoyed spending time outdoors hiking, camping, and being in nature.  This spurred my interest in water resources engineering and helped to lead me on the path to my current position.  I am passionate about bringing cost effective solutions to urban water problems so that we can adaptively manage our most critical resource.

3. What drew you to the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at The Ohio State University?

I was originally hired as a Research Scientist in FABE in January 2016.  The path to the department was paved through my PhD project at North Carolina State University.  It was a large, multidisciplinary project with work focused in Northeast Ohio. Through this work, I met a number of important players in the urban water management field in the state.  In 2015, I received an Ohio Department of Transportation grant to study stormwater quality from roads across Ohio.  Since then, I have developed a research program around green infrastructure and urban stormwater management.  I transitioned to a tenure-track position in Septmeber 2018. I hope to build a successful research and teaching program in FABE in a novel field.

4. What are you most looking forward to in this position?

I am looking forward most to two major aspects of this position: (1) interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaborations and (2) mentoring of graduate and undergraduate students.  As a hire in the Sustainable and Resilient Economy Discovery Theme and a cross-college hire in both Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering and Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering, I am excited to build relationships with a multitude of other researchers from across campus.  These types of collaboration are key to the types of solutions that society needs to meet emerging problems.  Additionally, I really enjoy teaching and mentoring the next generation of engineers and scientists to have the tools to solve global water challenges.  I am looking forward to developing new graduate level courses around best management practice design, urban water modeling, and watershed monitoring.  I am excited to mentor the next generation to improve management of water in urban areas.

5. What are your goals for the future? 

I hope to develop novel methods for treatment of water so that we can sustainably manage water in urban areas.  We hope to optimize return on investment for stormwater treatment while providing maintainable and aesthetically pleasing solutions.  Ultimately, our work helps to protect the critical water resources of the state of Ohio so that we can continue to meet our needs for clean water to drink and recreate in.  I am also hoping to build a teaching and extension program to improve the management of water in urban areas in our region and around the world.