Universities of Wisconsin Research Institutes

Water research is taking place on every campus within the UW System, providing students and faculty with a wealth of opportunities. Here are the key institutes and research centers.

Bay of Green Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (designation anticipated in 2024)

UW-Green Bay is leading the designation of a National Estuarine Research Reserve serving the Lake Michigan–Lake Huron biogeographic region. The reserve will be located within the Green Bay Estuary and provide a platform for Great Lakes research, education, stewardship, and training. The National Estuarine Research Reserve is a network of 29 sites across the coastal U.S., including the Great Lakes, designated to protect and study estuaries and coastal wetlands. The Bay of Green Bay Reserve will represent a partnership program between NOAA and UW-Green Bay. https://www.uwgb.edu/national-estuarine-research-reserves/ 

Center for Land Use Education

The Center for Land Use Education (CLUE) is a joint venture of the College of Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and the University of Wisconsin – Madison Division of Extension. It is a focal point for land use planning and management education. It creates learning opportunities for communities to help them make sound land-use decisions resulting in a sustainable Wisconsin. Research and outreach focus on watershed management and community engagement. https://www.uwsp.edu/cnr-ap/clue/ 

The Center for Limnological Research

The Center for Limnological Research and Rehabilitation at UW-Stout focuses on eutrophication issues and management solutions for freshwater systems. It provides limnological research services to the surrounding community, including diagnosing eutrophication-related problems in lakes and reservoirs, conducting comprehensive hydrologic and limnological monitoring programs, identifying and quantifying important phosphorus sources that drive cyanobacterial blooms and developing and implementing management plans to sustainably rehabilitate degraded aquatic systems. https://www.uwstout.edu/directory/center-limnological-research-and-rehabilitation 

Center for Water Policy

The Center for Water Policy builds on the research of the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, the UW System, and networks and partnerships with top scholars, scientists, and policy institutions across the country and around the world. It provides interdisciplinary solutions to resolve regional, national and international problems related to the protection, restoration and conservation of freshwater resources to ensure long-term environmental health and quality of life. https://uwm.edu/centerforwaterpolicy/ 

Center for Watershed Science and Education (CWSE) 

CWSE supports watershed stewardship; assists citizens with lake, river, and drinking water quality problems; promotes management strategies for water resource protection; provides water quality assessment and support; and prepares UW-Stevens Point students for careers as water resource professionals. www.uwsp.edu/cnr-ap/watershed 

The Cofrin Center for Biodiversity

UW-Green Bay’s Cofrin Center for Biodiversity manages more than 1,600 acres across five natural areas located in Brown, Door, and Manitowoc Counties; two important regional biological collections (Richter Museum of Natural History and Gary A. Fewless Herbarium); and one of the university’s most productive grant-funded research programs. The natural areas and associated research projects provide outstanding educational opportunities for UW-Green Bay students and living laboratories where researchers conduct original ecological and policy-based studies. https://www.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/natural-areas/ 

Environmental Management and Business Institute

The Environmental Management and Business Institute (EMBI) helps strengthen UW-Green Bay’s leadership position in the promotion of environmental awareness and eco-friendly initiatives. The EMBI helps strengthen and connect academic programs to analyze environmental issues and seek solutions, as well as promotes research by faculty and students aimed at solving local, regional, and global environmental problems. https://www.uwgb.edu/embi/about-embi/overview/ 

Environmental Research & Innovation Center

The Environmental Research & Innovation Center (ERIC) at UW Oshkosh serves as a research and testing center for campus, the general public and external partners to work for environmental health, evaluate materials for biogas potential, perform groundbreaking research in solids management and conduct a variety of custom research projects. It offers customized scientific research and testing to the broader community practicing the Wisconsin Idea and trains future scientists in the fields of ecology, environmental and public health, biology, limnology and microbiology. https://uwosh.edu/eric/ 

Great Lakes Genomics Center

The Great Lakes Genomics Center, located in the School of Freshwater Sciences at UW-Milwaukee, is the nation’s first research center dedicated solely to the application of groundbreaking genomic and molecular tools to issues of freshwater management and health. The research is central to all phases of freshwater protection and management: measuring ecosystem health; identifying the introduction of invasive species; characterizing bacteria in water, wastewater and beaches; sequencing COVID strains in wastewater; sequencing critical species in the Great Lakes and aquaculture; measuring the impacts of chemicals and other stressors on freshwater organisms; and linking the health of aquatic species to human health https://uwm.edu/freshwater/research-overview/great-lakes-genomics-center/ 

Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute

The Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute is dedicated to developing and improving economically and environmentally sustainable maritime commerce on the Great Lakes through applied research. Its research efforts focus on marine transportation, logistics, economics, engineering, environmental planning, and port management. GLMRI represents a consortium of the UW-Superior Transportation and Logistics Research Center and the University of Minnesota Duluth Swenson College of Science and Engineering and Labovitz School of Business and Economics. http://www.glmri.org/ 

Great Lakes Observing System

The UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences operates three seasonal environmental monitoring buoys in Lake Michigan as part of the Great Lakes Observing System. These monitoring programs produce a variety of data, including over-lake weather measurements, wave height, current speed and direction, and water quality measurements such as temperature, conductivity, oxygen concentration, carbon dioxide concentration, pH, and chlorophyll concentration. One buy is deployed off Atwater Beach in Milwaukee, WI. Green Bay monitoring is conducted in collaboration with the Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance and affiliated partners. SFS also conducts environmental research and monitoring in collaboration with the U.S. National Park Service at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Additional environmental monitoring of Lake Michigan is conducted in collaboration with the Lake Express high-speed ferry as well as the North Shore Water Commission. https://glos.org/ 

Institute for Water Business

The Institute for Water Business at UW-Whitewater is the first of its kind in the United States, created for the purpose of developing water business acumen and capacity through education, research, and multi-stakeholder collaboration. A place for transdisciplinary action learning, research and outreach, the Institute for Water Business seeks to engage, educate and empower stakeholders to identify and successfully respond to regional, national and international water business issues, challenges and opportunities. https://www.uww.edu/cobe/water 

Lakeshore Water Institute

The Lakeshore Water Institute is a collaborative partnership between the UW-Green Bay, Manitowoc Campus and the Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership (LNRP). It is housed at UW-Green Bay, Manitowoc Campus and serves the lakeshore region as a tool for educating and engaging youth and for developing science-based decisions and leaders at the local government level. This collaboration is coordinated by LNRP with the community-led Friends of Hika Bay, Friends of the Manitowoc River Watershed, Friends of the Branch River Watershed, Friends of the Twin Rivers (East & West), and the Little Manitowoc River Partnership. 


Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve

The Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve works in partnership to improve the understanding of Lake Superior’s coast and estuaries. It addresses issues affecting the watershed through integration of research, education, outreach and stewardship. The Lake Superior NERR encompasses more than 16,000 acres along the St. Louis River freshwater estuary in Wisconsin. It is part of the UW-Madison Division of Extension’s Natural Resources Institute with leadership from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is based on the UW-Superior campus. https://lakesuperiorreserve.org/ 

Lake Superior Research Institute

The Lake Superior Research Institute (LSRI) conducts environmental research and provides services that directly benefit the people, industries and natural resources of the Upper Midwest, the Great Lakes Region, and beyond; provides non-traditional learning and applied research opportunities for undergraduate students; and fosters environmental education and outreach in the Twin Ports and surrounding communities. https://www.uwsuper.edu/lsri/index.cfm 

Lower Fox River Watershed Monitoring Program

The LFRWMP is a collaborative watershed education and stream monitoring program focused on identifying nonpoint source pollution within the Fox River watershed. Engaging students and teachers in watershed restoration efforts was added to the program in 2019. The LFRWMP is a collaborative partnership between the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity, the Lower Green Bay restoration partnership, the Watershed Research program, and area high schools. https://www.uwgb.edu/watershed/ 

Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility

The UW-Stevens Point Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility is the university’s northern most campus located in Bayfield, Wis. A one-of-a-kind facility in the Midwest, it showcases new advances in aquaculture system technology such as sustainable land-based recirculating aquaculture while also providing traditional aquaculture systems such as flow-through raceways and outdoor ponds for industry-based research projects. https://www.uwsp.edu/cols-ap/nadf 

University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute

The University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute coordinates research that works to address present and emerging water quality, quantity and management challenges. https://wri.wisc.edu/

Water Equipment and Policy (WEP) Center

Funded by the NSF’s Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers (I/UCRC) program, the WEP Center is the nation’s only I/UCRC that provides innovative water technologies to promote the advancement of the water industry and conducts research to inform water policy makers. Over the past 10 years, WEP’s industrial members have more than tripled in number, and the center has trained hundreds of students. WEP has developed nearly 100 pre-competitive research projects to satisfy members’ unmet/underserved needs in the following research areas: water sensors and devices, novel materials for water applications, innovative treatment systems, and water policy research. Specifically, these projects address industry’s needs in point-of-use technologies, emerging contaminants, sustainability, and reduced energy consumption. Now entering the Phase III I/UCRC, the center will build upon its strength in these thrust areas, augment research through engaging multidisciplinary teams and exploring technological frontiers of relating disciplines (such as data science and artificial intelligence), continue to discover unmet needs of existing and prospective members, and provide transformative solutions to grow the water industry. https://iucrc.nsf.gov/centers/water-equipment-and-policy/ 

The Water Technology Accelerator

The Water Technology Accelerator (WaTA) is a collaboration between UW-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences and College of Engineering and Applied Science, UW-Whitewater, and The Water Council. It provides world-class labs and equipment for UW-Milwaukee researchers and their collaborators to move innovative science to commercial application and develop technologies suitable for pre-production prototype formulation and evaluation. https://uwm.edu/freshwater/research-overview/water-technology-accelerator/  

Water and Environmental Analysis Lab (WEAL)

A Wisconsin DNR certified state-of-the-art facility capable of analyzing a wide range of constituents, including metals, nutrients, and pesticides. WEAL was founded in 1972 to serve Wisconsin citizens, train students to become future water quality professionals, and conduct water quality research. https://www.uwsp.edu/cnr-ap/weal/Pages/Home.aspx 

Wisconsin Center for Wildlife

The mission of the WCW at UW-Stevens Point is to increase awareness, knowledge, skills, and engagement of students, professionals, landowners, and the public in the conservation of wildlife and their habitats in Wisconsin and beyond. Home to the Kennedy-Grohne Chair of Waterfowl and Wetland Conservation. https://www.uwsp.edu/cnr/WCW/Pages/Wisconsin-Center-for-Wildlife.aspx 

Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit

The Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit has been an integral part of fisheries and aquatic science research and education since its inception in 1971. The unit is a cooperation between the U.S. Geological Survey, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources. Their objectives are to conduct world-class fisheries and aquatic science research of interest to cooperators; educate and train students at the master’s degree level in fisheries and aquatic sciences and provide extension services in fisheries and aquatic resource management. https://www.uwsp.edu/cnr-ap/wicfru 

  • Aquatic Biomonitoring Laboratory
  • Analyzes benthic macroinvertebrate samples to assess the ecological condition and environmental quality at sampled locations.
  • Fisheries Analysis Center
  • A collaborative venture between the Wisconsin DNR, WICFRU, and the CNR at UW-Stevens Point. Staff includes fishery scientists, students, and staff from UW-Stevens Point and Wisconsin DNR from across the state.

Wisconsin Sea Grant

Wisconsin Sea Grant, headquartered at UW-Madison, is a statewide program of basic and applied research, education, and outreach and technology transfer dedicated to the stewardship and sustainable use of the nation’s Great Lakes and ocean resources. Wisconsin Sea Grant is part of a national network of 34 university-based programs funded through the National Sea Grant College Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, and through matching contributions from participating states and the private sector. https://www.seagrant.wisc.edu/about/