Komiskey adds chemistry to Pioneer Farm

April 29, 2003

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The University of Wisconsin-Platteville Pioneer Farm recently hired Matt Komiskey as an associate research specialist. Komiskey implements research activities, develops sampling procedures, analyzes data, records field measurements and writes reports.

Komiskey grew up near Tomah where he spent the majority of his childhood helping his grandparents on their dairy farm. While attending high school he also worked at a sawmill. Komiskey obtained a bachelor of science degree in water resources from UW-Stevens Point in May 2002, with an emphasis in water chemistry.

As a student, Komiskey was the student manager of the UW-Stevens Point's Environmental Tasks Force (ETF) Trace Organics Lab. In the trace organics lab, he developed record keeping skills, new sampling techniques and used EPA methods to evaluate water, soil and plant tissue. He worked on a wide variety of projects including phytoremediation work (the use of plants to remove toxic substances from soil and groundwater).

In another position as a student, Komiskey coordinated a groundwater study that tested local wells for water quality impurities due to farming in the Stevens Point area. He employed the method of age-dating groundwater to help identify its source and helped improve and develop procedures for new instrumentation, organized sampling times and collected and analyzed samples.

Komiskey also assisted in additional research activities where he helped develop new sampling and analysis techniques for analyzing water for its apparent age-date. He participated in and coordinated sampling trips to evaluate surface and groundwater in areas including the Little Plover River, the Tomorrow Waupaca Watershed and in Crandon.

He was also a student coordinator of a DNR pilot study that evaluated the water quality and the water's apparent age-date in public and private supply wells found throughout the state. Komiskey organized sampling and analysis times with the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene and the ETF Lab, collected and analyzed samples, kept records and presented the data.

During the summers Komiskey worked as a fisheries technician in Fort McCoy where he aided the monitoring and sampling of freshwater ecosystems. There, he studied habitat evaluation of coldwater streams and lakes as well as habitat improvement techniques. He learned the different fish species and their requirements in terms of habitat and water quality. Komiskey developed skills related to surface water evaluation, sampling techniques and water quality interpretation. After graduation, Komiskey moved to southwest Wisconsin with his wife, Michelle, and volunteered with the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Subsequently, in October 2002, Komiskey began working at Pioneer Farm, bringing his knowledge and skills to the job as he collects runoff from Pioneer Farm's local watershed, using the newly installed flumes. In cooperation with the USGS, he upgraded existing flumes and installed three new flumes. Komiskey also collects samples used to determine the farm's mass balance and is developing protocols for compost and grazing research.

Komiskey sees his work at Pioneer Farm as a great opportunity to be involved in cutting-edge research that has the potential to benefit the future of agriculture in Wisconsin.

"Matt is a great addition to Pioneer Farm. He's got an inquisitive mind, an eagerness for hard work and an ebullient personality. That's a rare find," states Pioneer Farm director Tom Hunt.

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