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Symposium information

Theme and purpose of the symposium

The Utah Lake Symposium aims to bring sound scientific and cultural information about Utah Lake to the people of Utah Valley and the broader Utah Lake watershed. Consequently, the symposium is organized around several broad questions:

  1. What was Utah Lake like 200 years ago?
  2. What is the cultural importance of Utah Lake?
  3. What is the current ecological status of Utah Lake?
  4. What restoration and monitoring work is currently being done?
  5. What are the major challenges and threats facing Utah Lake?
  6. What are our policy and governance options to ensure a vibrant and healthy ecosystem in the future?

Registering for the symposium

You can register for this free symposium through this form: Register for the Utah Lake Symposium. In-person attendance is limited to 300 people, so make sure to register as soon as possible to reserve your spot and ensure we have enough lunches. During registration, you can indicate whether you want to receive email notifications about the symposium and other Utah Lake community events. We respect your privacy and choice regarding communications. We do not send spam and will never share your contact information with any third party.

Traveling to the symposium

The symposium will take place on the Utah Valley University campus in the Andrea and James Clarke Building (map here). The live events will all occur in room 510, which overlooks Utah Lake.

The Clarke Building is easily accessed on public transportation via the main UVU bus station or the UVU McKay Education Building station. There is also free parking anywhere in lot L6 adjacent to the building, thanks to the UVU College of Science.

The main events are from 11:00am to 3pm, including two sessions of talks, lunch, and an audience Q&A session with a large panel of experts. Show up at 10:30 to fill out your nametag, meet the presenters, and explore the poster presentations.

For presenters

If you are presenting a live or prerecorded talk, poster, or panel, you can find detailed information about how to submit your information on the Presenter's page.

Planning committee

The Utah Lake Symposium is organized by volunteer researchers and community members dedicated to responsible and evidence-based management of Utah Lake. If you would like to contribute to the planning of this or future events, email

The planning committee consists of:

Ben Abbott

February 18, 2020 04:31 PM
Ben Abbott is a professor of aquatic ecology at Brigham Young University. He grew up swimming and water skiing on Utah Lake and can often be found there with his wife Rachel and their four children.

Weihong Wang

Weihong Wang is an Associate Professor of Earth Science at Utah Valley University. Her current research is focusing on nutrient loading to Utah Lake and land use land cover classification within the Utah Lake Watershed using GIS-remote sensing techniques.

Shannon Ellsworth

Shannon Ellsworth serves on the Provo City Council representing citizens who live next to the Wasatch Mountains and Utah Lake. Shannon has a background in business and policy consulting. She attended Utah State University where she earned a degree in environmental planning, and later earned an MBA at BYU. Shannon works with communities throughout the West as they make environmental, infrastructure, and land use decisions. She serves on the Utah Quality Growth Commission and was a founding member of Conserve Utah Valley.

Kevin Shurtleff

Kevin Shurtleff is a professor of chemistry at Utah Valley University. He works with industry and students to solve real world problems ranging from energy production and storage to air pollution and harmful algal blooms.

Kaye Nelson

Kaye Nelson loves the beauty and majesty of the Utah mountains, foothills, trails, and waters and works to protect those, most recently as a founding member of Conserve Utah Valley. Water skiing and boating at Utah Lake were a key part of her childhood and she still appreciates the natural beauty of the lake.

Andrew Follett

Andrew Follett is a student at Yale Law School and a graduate of the University of Utah. His scholarship focuses on legal history and the development of modern environmental law.

Isabella Errigo

Isabella Errigo is a master’s student at BYU studying environmental science. She is especially interested in the link between environmental degradation and human health. She has loved visiting and exploring Utah Lake during her time at BYU and hopes to protect and preserve it for future generations to enjoy.

Kristina Davis

Kristina Davis is an instructor at UVU and Utah Lake Adopt-a-Shoreline Volunteer. Experience with thousands of students (from elementary schools to UVU) proves when people understand cycles of nature, they care about those interactions.

Haley Moon

Haley Moon is an undergraduate at BYU studying Environmental Science and Sustainability. She is interested in ecology, biogeochemistry, and restoration.

Greg Carling

Greg Carling is a geology professor at BYU. He grew up water skiing on Utah Lake. His current research focuses on phosphorus in the lake water and sediments.

Janice Brahney

Dr. Brahney is a professor of environmental biogeochemistry and paleolimnology. She uses interdisciplinary methods to asses human influence on nutrient cycles, climate impacts on freshwater ecosystems, and aquatic ecology.

Zach Aanderud

Zach Aanderud is a microbial ecologist and biogeochemist at Brigham Young University. Dr. Aanderud evaluates the responses of lake cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins to nutrient loading.

John Bennion

John Bennion is an emeritus professor, who formerly taught in the English Department at Brigham Young University. He writes personal and historical essays and fiction about people living on the eastern edge of the Great Basin in Utah. He has published a collection of short fiction and three novels. Another novel is forthcoming from BCC Press. He has published short stories and essays in Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, Southwest Review, Utah Historical Quarterly, Journal of Mormon History, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, and others. He has thirty years of experience leading outdoor writing programs that use the writing of personal essays to promote student growth. These include Wilderness Writing, Literature and Landscape, Integrated Natural History, and Insects, Writing, and Art.

Katie Slebodnik

Katie Slebodnik is the Provo River/Utah Lake Watershed Coordinator with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

Sam Rushforth

Sam Rushforth is an emeritus dean of science at Utah Valley University. He has studied aquatic ecosystems for 50 years, focusing on human disturbance, biodiversity, and environmental policy.

Eddy Cadet

Eddy Cadet is a professor of environmental health at Utah Valley University. He has studied trace metal pollution in soil and sediment, phytoremediation, and human impact on Utah Lake.

James Westwater

Dr. James Westwater— photographer, author, photochoreographer, visual concert artist and earth guardian—is a two time National Endowment for the Arts Resident Artist, a National Science Foundation Artist in the Antarctic, a recipient of the Antarctic Medal and fellow of The Explorers Club. He invented the art form of symphonic photochoreography—giant screen, multi-image photographic essays choreographed to the performance of symphonic music. During a 40 plus year career he performed his photochoreography with close to 200 symphony orchestras in the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia. He is the founder and Chair of the Utah Valley Earth Forum (

Nathaniel Call

Nathaniel Call is an undergraduate psychology student at BYU pursuing a career in medicine and public health. Growing up in Provo, he regularly enjoyed the recreation and beauty Utah Lake has offered.

Tod Robbins

Tod Robbins, MLIS, is a citizen scientist and community organizer. He founded Utah Valley Mutual Aid to organize resources and support for communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and provides technical support for the Utah Lake Research Collaborative.

Justin Lemke

Justin Lemke is an undergraduate at BYU studying environmental science and microbiology. He is interested in ecology, conservation, and public health relationships.

Jenny Jo Cox

Jenny Jo Cox is a District Conservationist with the NRCS.
"Restoration is a powerful antidote to despair; it's not enough to grieve, it's not enough to stop doing bad things."
Robin Wall Kimmerer