U of M aquatic invasive species center demotes director

Peter Sorensen
University of Minnesota fisheries biologist Peter Sorensen holds a juvenile silver carp pulled from a tank in his lab.
Matt Sepic / MPR News, File

The University of Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center has removed director Peter Sorensen from his post.

Sorensen, who founded the center in 2012 to focus research on invasive species such as Asian carp and zebra mussels, will be replaced by Sue Galatowitsch, a restoration ecologist who also heads the university's Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology.

From now on, Sorensen said, he will now be "just another scientist" at the research center.

Sorensen said he hopes the center's research will continue in the direction he envisioned when he started it. But he will have no administrative role in determining the center's research priorities.

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Galatowitsch said the change is designed to ease Sorensen's workload and give him more time for research.

"Peter will have more time to devote to the solutions that people are really hoping for," she said. "So [there's] absolutely no change on the dedication to really getting solutions for the state."

A memo to the center's advisory board members from U of M Dean Brian Buhr said Sorensen will continue to be a spokesperson for the research center. Sorensen said that role is unclear.

The leadership change won't change the center's research focus, Galatowitsch said.

"This center is absolutely focused on practical solutions," she said. "That's the vision for the center which Peter articulates so well and it's certainly something that was endorsed by the people that have supported the center with funding."