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MSU, GVSU Join Forces to Address Water Challenges

Joan Rose

Michigan State University (MSU) and the Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI) of Grand Valley State University (GVSU) have formalized a partnership to collaborate on water-related issues.

Leaders from the two institutions have been meeting and recently signed a memorandum of understanding.

The AWRI, located on Muskegon Lake in Muskegon, Michigan, is part of the GVSU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and supports research, education, and outreach aimed at preserving freshwater resources.

AWRI is led by Alan Steinman, the Allen and Helen Hunting director. Its research programs explore aquatic ecology, toxicology, ecosystem restoration, and other water quality projects. Additionally, the Information Services Center at the AWRI uses geographic information system data analysis to inform natural resources management decisions.

Aboard two research vessels on Muskegon Lake, AWRI scientists and instructors lead education and outreach programs. They teach K-12 and college students, policymakers, educators and community groups about a variety of water-related topics.

“The AWRI and MSU have a long-standing relationship that has been based largely on collaborations between individual investigators,” Steinman said. “While these collaborations have generated many positive outcomes, the time is ripe to formalize our partnership through this MOU to facilitate broader, stronger and forward-thinking relationships to address the water challenges facing Michigan and the Great Lakes region. I am very excited about this partnership with MSU and the synergies it will bring to our respective institutions.”

MSU has researchers and outreach specialists in a variety of departments studying water, including but not limited to fisheries and wildlife, biosystems and agricultural engineering, criminal justice, entomology, and geography.

Since the 1964 Water Resources Research Act was signed by President Lyndon Johnson, which created 54 water institutes around the country, MSU has been home to the Institute of Water Research (IWR). Darrell Donahue, IWR director and chair of the MSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, is leading the MSU coalition working with AWRI.

Donahue has been seeking collaborations with organizations that have complementary research to MSU. He believes this could open the door for funding of long-term, large-scale projects. Scientists from each university are regularly meeting to discuss partnership opportunities.

“Working with the AWRI is an honor,” Donahue said. “Alan (Steinman) has done a great job building the program. They have a world-class facility on Muskegon Lake near Lake Michigan and renowned faculty doing amazing work. Combining our resources and expertise, we can tackle a broader range of water issues and seek greater funding opportunities, which benefits both institutions.”

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