Back to top

Marie-Françoise Hatte: We all live downstream

For Marie-Françoise Hatte, it is all about water. From helping with research projects and organizing events at UMass Amherst to coordinating statewide projects, water is what she does.

 As the Associate Director of the Massachusetts Water Resources Research Center (WRRC) sited at University of Massachusetts Amherst, Hatte assists Director Paula Rees in running the day-to-day operations at the Center. She enjoys the wide variety of water-related projects that come across her desk and her interactions on many levels. This includes administrative tasks, handling details of grants and reports and reviewing proposals that come their way. Hatte helps faculty at UMass as well as other Massachusetts institutions develop proposals. She organizes conferences and workshops with water themes to both transfer new research findings and to bring researchers together in order to discuss new ideas and projects. Some of her days involve straight-forward tasks such as creating new fact sheets, managing the WRRC website and outreach duties.

Hatte really enjoys work that takes her out of the office and getting her hands dirty in many New England streams.  She joins project teams on programs, such as the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative with Scott Jackson, and the Farms, Floods, and Fluvial Geomorphology with Christine Hatch, as well as in-house projects headed by Paula Rees. Recently, an especially exciting project involved civil and environmental engineering work that tested for lead and copper in school drinking water. The common thread that flows through her work is water.

When asked what brought her to UMass 30 years ago, she was quick to answer, “the Acid Rain Monitoring Project (ARM).” Hatte was hired as its statewide coordinator, and discovered that citizen science (using volunteers in serious research project), was not only feasible but rewarding for all who are involved. That led to the Massachusetts Water Watch Partnership, which helped many non-profit groups learn about and monitor their local water bodies. The ARM project, active in the spring of each year, is still going strong with Hatte as its Principal Investigator.

Volunteering is a passion she has parlayed into meaningful outreach. For many years, Hatte was very involved with watershed groups.  Her first foray into this area was with the Green River Watershed Preservation Alliance and later, the Deerfield River Watershed Association. This type of group is one of many UMass stakeholders, so she felt her involvement with them was “keeping her honest” experiencing real-world problems first-hand.

Her favorite quote? Not surprisingly, it is about H20: “When the well is dry, we know the value of water.”– Benjamin Franklin