John A. Downing

John Downing headshot
Professional Title


  • Limnology, aquatic ecology, biogeochemistry, fisheries, lake management and restoration, eutrophication, harmful algae blooms, groundwater, biodiversity, endangered species, carbon cycling, global role of lakes and streams
  • Research, education and science policy
  • Professor, Department of Biology and with Large Lakes Observatory (UMD)
  • Immediate past chair, Council of Scientific Society Presidents
  • Immediate past president, Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography



MNSG Leadership

  • Director


Ph.D. - Biology
McGill University
M.S. - Zoology
North Dakota State University
B.S. - Biology
Hamline University

Earth's Eye: Director's Column

Water from lakes and streams can contain a lot of things that can make you sick. Making drinking water safe when camping, on the trail, or simply traveling, has become big business with many options. A safe solution is easier and cheaper than you might think. Minnesota Sea Grant’s April 2023 Director’s Column has information to help keep you safe and hydrated. 

I wanted a tool to measure the thawing potential that weather exerts on lakes in spring so my friends, colleagues, and family could better plan for spring activities. So I made a fun widget called the Minnesota Lake Ice-In and Ice-Out Widget to help track thawing in spring. 

The open water of Lake Superior (right) and the frozen water of the Duluth-Superior harbor (left). Image credit: M. Thoms

Plate ice, cracked ice, and refrozen plate ice on a Minnesota lake. Image credit: John A. Downing.

Image credit: Igor Pushkarev. All AdobeStock images in this story are protected by copyright.

Image credit: ©diyanadimitrova.

Image credit: ©Mariana.

Image credit: M. Thoms

Image credit: ©besjunior.

Outreach Projects

The Great Lakes Aquaculture Collaborative (GLAC) is a three-year (2019-2022) project to create a regionwide group to foster relevant, science-based initiatives that support aquaculture industries. Credit: L. Angradi.

The Aquaculture Market Study is a three-year (2020-2023), $250,000 project led by the University of Minnesota Sea Grant program that was created to determine the potential for a sustainable food-fish aquaculture industry in Minnesota.

History, prevention, kits, rescue, field treatment and more about hypothermia.

This ice-in and ice-out clock is a bit of science fun to show you how to estimate when a body of water like a lake is likely to freeze or thaw.

Upcoming Events

Media Mentions

News Releases

The Wisconsin Aquaculture Association and the Minnesota Aquaculture Association will host the

Staff from Minnesota Sea Grant Fisheries and Aquaculture Program will be presenting recent and ongoing projects that addres