Water researcher Joan Rose, Upper Peninsula advocate Nancy Warren earn top environmental awards

Michigan Environmental Council to honor pair June 14 in Ypsilanti

Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) next week will honor two outstanding leaders for Michigan's public health, waters and wildlife.

Joan Rose -- a Michigan State University microbiologist who has devoted her career to improving water quality, trekking across Michigan, the U.S., and the world to investigate and raise awareness of waterborne disease outbreaks and develop preventions -- will receive the Helen & William Milliken Distinguished Service Award.

Nancy Warren -- an advocate who has worked tirelessly, voluntarily, and at personal sacrifice over the past 25 years to preserve special features of the Upper Peninsula -- will receive the Petoskey Prize for Environmental Leadership.

The awards will be presented Thursday, June 14 at a celebration in Ypsilanti beginning at 5:30 pm. For information on the event, click here or call 517-487-9539.

The Milliken Award -- named after former Gov. William G. Milliken and his late wife Helen -- is bestowed annually to recognize an individual's outstanding leadership, enduring commitment and extraordinary public service in the pursuit of environmental protection and sustainability. The Petoskey Prize is given annually to a volunteer nominated by an MEC member organization whose commitment, creativity and courage have created positive impacts for Michigan's natural resources, public health, and quality of life.

Joan Rose

“Water is life; but water quality is health.”

That’s a favorite phrase of Michigan State University microbiologist Joan Rose. And it has guided a career that’s been dedicated to improving access to clean, safe water and protecting public health through cutting-edge research and science-based advocacy.

Dr. Rose is MSU’s Homer Nowlin Endowed Chair in Water Research. Since 2005, she has co-directed the university’s Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment and its Center for Water Sciences.

A water science expert, Dr. Rose has worked tirelessly to better understand and counter waterborne diseases, a pervasive threat to people in Michigan, across the country, and around the world. For 30 years, she has traveled far and wide to investigate outbreaks and advocate for clean water. These efforts have yielded groundbreaking contributions to understanding water quality, detecting threats, and creating public health protections.

Her expertise has helped with the development of several important projects, such as the Drinking Water Standard adopted in 2004 by the World Health Organization and the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality agreement between the United States and Canada.

More recently, she partnered with UNESCO to create the Global Water Pathogen Project, a constantly updated resource on advances regarding water-related disease risk and intervention measures. Today, she is recognized as the world’s leading researcher in water treatment methods, waterborne pathogens, and virus identification. And her work has helped turn MSU into a leading water-science research institution.

Closer to home, she has pushed to increase the role of science in setting Michigan water policy. She also has worked with MEC to address issues such as faulty septic tanks and water infrastructure challenges to promote measures to keep waterborne pathogens from contaminating Michigan lakes, rivers, and streams.

"Joan Rose is a tireless innovator whose pioneering research is helping to improve water quality and public health worldwide," said MEC President Chris Kolb. "Her important work to track down contamination sources gives us the facts we need to improve public policies that will protect Michigan's amazing freshwater resources."

Past winners of the Milliken Award are Matt Cullen, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Andy Buchsbaum, Rich Vander Veen, Dave Dempsey, Rosina Bierbaum, Becky Humphries, Faye Alexander Nelson, Lana Pollack, Bunyan Bryant, PhD, Mary C. Brown, Congressman Vernon Ehlers, Congressman John Dingell, Peter Karmanos, Jr., Marty Fluharty, Peter Wege, Peter Stroh, and Steve Hamp.

Nancy Warren

From organizing activities at her high school for the first Earth Day to protecting Ottawa National Forest from illegal ATV use and sharing science-based research on wolves in presentations to groups across the Upper Peninsula, Nancy Warren has lead countless efforts to engage her community in service to environmental sustainability.

For 20 years, Warren has volunteered with MEC member organization Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition, as a board member and past president. Her core goals focus on promoting ecosystem integrity and biodiversity, restoring habitat and sustainable species populations, and increasing citizen involvement in environmental stewardship.

Since 2013 she has served as Executive Director and Great Lakes Regional Coordinator for the National Wolfwatcher Coalition, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting positive attitudes about wolves through education and advocacy. Warren oversees volunteers, researches issues, creates and presents educational programs, and provides testimony on nationwide policies concerning the wolf. In Michigan, her efforts successfully protected wolves from being delisted as endangered and hunted as game animals.

She has achieved new habitat protection measures in the Ottawa National Forest, serving on the Resource Advisory Committee since 2010. Warren documented illegal ATV activity and the impact of off-trail snowmobiling on riverbank erosion, which led to new actions to protect wood turtle nesting sites and slow erosion and sediment runoff into the Wild & Scenic section of the Ontonagon River.

Nancy Warren is the epitome of a grassroots leader – seeing a need and taking the initiative to engage with others to find solutions,” said Kolb. “We are glad to recognize her work to protect and sustain the wild beauty of the Upper Peninsula for future generations.”

Past winners of the Petoskey Prize are Mark Covington, Pam Taylor, Bill Craig, Steve Hamilton, Bob Andrus, Blair Miller, Ken Smith, Margaret Weber, Rusty Gates, Carol Drake, Lynn Henning, Don A. Griffin, Michelle Hurd Riddick, Terry Swier, Diane Hebert, Alison & David Swan, and Debbie Romak.

Major sponsors for this year's event include Consumers Energy, DTE Energy Foundation, Eve & Jerry Jung, Olson, Bzdok & Howard, PC, Lana & Henry Pollack, TOMRA and Schupan Recycling, and TruGreen.


Michigan Environmental Council is a coalition of more than 65 organizations created in 1980 to lead Michigan’s environmental movement to achieve positive change through public policy solutions. MEC combines deep environmental policy expertise with close connections to key state and federal decision-makers, decades of experience getting things done in the political process, and an ability to rally broad and powerful alliances in support of reforms. With our member groups and partners in the public health, conservation, and faith-based communities, MEC promotes public policies to ensure that Michigan families will enjoy clear waters, clean beaches, beautiful landscapes and healthy communities for years to come.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.