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MSU Key Player in New Great Lakes Research Group

Great Lakes bathymetry map

Michigan State University is poised to play a big role in the newly formed Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research (CIGLR).

A five-year, $20 million dollar grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was recently awarded to support the institute, strengthening current research efforts into the sustainable management of the Great Lakes region.

CIGLR, hosted by the University of Michigan (U-M), is a partnership of nine universities and several nongovernmental organizations, nonprofits and private businesses.

Jan Stevenson, professor of integrative biology in the MSU College of Natural Science and co-director of the MSU Center for Water Sciences, took the lead in developing MSU’s contribution to the NOAA proposal.

“MSU provides extraordinary depth and breadth of expertise in water sciences to the cooperative,” Stevenson said. “We have over 100 researchers in our university alone that work on water-based research—from communications to engineering, to natural sciences, to social sciences.

“MSU has had a strong history of participation in the previous version of CIGLR, the Cooperative Institute of Limnology and Ecosystems Research (CILER),” Stevenson added. “We received more funding than any of the other non-U-M partners.”

Faculty and students across the multi-institute research endeavor will work with the NOAA to investigate some of the Great Lakes’ most pressing environmental problems.

“When NOAA has need for research expertise or capacity outside of their research team,” Stevenson said, “they can use the cooperative agreement as a vehicle to go out and come up with the best team to attack that problem.”

MSU’s scientists are in a position to secure several research projects within CIGLR’s four areas of focus: observing systems and advanced technology, invasive species and food-web ecology, hydrometeorological and ecosystem forecasting, and protection and restoration of Great Lakes resources.

Projects will include collaborative proposals for new technology and detection systems that provide real time observations of lake temperature changes, algal blooms, and water quality; inter-departmental proposals to improve invasive species prevention and detection through education and identification of the most important human and natural points of introduction; and working with the private sector in order to provide companies with relevant information about ecosystem services to include in economic calculations of their bottom line.

These kinds of collaborations are key to the importance of this new partnership, said Stevenson, who hopes the cooperative will strengthen inter-institutional research into the future.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to develop inter-institution collaborations beyond the NOAA and continue to be involved in fostering communication among the other partner universities,” he said.

Stevenson emphasized that MSU’s long history of collaboration between social and natural sciences provides CIGLR with important expertise in the human dimensions side of Great Lakes resource management.

“As a land grant university, our mission is to target environmental problems and develop research programs around how to solve them,” he said. “MSU’s unique strength as part of the CIGLR is how long our natural scientists have worked with social scientists to integrate a systems approach to solving environmental problems.”

The institute is based at NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich. For a full description of CIGLR’s programs and the role MSU and other university partners will play, visit the cooperative’s website at https://ciler.snre.umich.edu/.

  • via the College of Natural Science website
  • MAP: via Wikipedia –National Geophysical Data Center, 1999. Global Land One-kilometer Base Elevation (GLOBE) v.1. Hastings, D. and P.K. Dunbar. National Geophysical Data Center, NOAA. doi:10.7289/V52R3PMS . (The color palette of the depth scale was made to be more or less similar to the color palettes used on the NGDC Great Lakes maps. Author – Darekk2 using the Great Lakes Bathymetry and GLOBE tiles)

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