Creating an Institutional Infrastructure for a Communication Hub to Support a UW System-wide Water Policy Network

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A Collaborative Research on Synthesis of Graphene Oxide (GO) from Sustainable Resources and Its Application for Removal of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) from Water

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Madison, UW-Stevens Point
Grand Water Challenge: Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Seyed Javad Amirfakhri, UW-Stevens Point; Xuejeun Pan, UW-Madison
Status: Active

PFAS is a group of chemicals detected in the drinking water of millions of Americans due to their widespread applications. They have been linked to several health concerns. The main objective of this work is to synthesize graphene oxide (GO) from sustainable resources, such as walnut shells, and to investigate the performance of GO for PFAS removal from water. Several students from UW-Stevens Point and UW-Madison will be trained to perform the research. Moreover, they will participate in disseminating the results, collaborating with industrial partners, engaging our community with STEM education, and increasing public scientific literacy on PFAS contamination.


A Community Science Analysis of River Mouths Along the Western Lake Michigan Shoreline

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Green Bay
Grand Water Challenge: Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Erin Giese, Robert Howe, Keir Wefferling
Status: Complete

This project will leverage an existing collaboration between the Milwaukee Public Museum and the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity to engage community scientists in data collection. An undergraduate researcher will be paired with mentors who specialize in ornithology and ecology and will engage campus communities at UW-Green Bay and UW-Milwaukee in collecting rigorous scientific data that will be used to provide recommendations for best land management practices of coastal habitats, including Great Lakes beaches and river mouths.


A Freshwater Science Field Experience in Western Wisconsin: The First Step in Developing a Skilled Workforce

Program Type: Course Development, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Eau Claire, UW Oshkosh, UW-River Falls, UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): J. Brian Mahoney, Gregory Kleinheinz, Holly Dolliver, Nicole Hayes
Status: Complete

The Freshwater Science Field Experience (FSFE) targets junior and senior high school students across Wisconsin and creates a gateway for prospective undergraduate students interested in freshwater science. The FSFE will provide a weeklong immersion experience that will utilize multidisciplinary activities (e.g., hydrogeology, stream flow studies, wetland investigations) to introduce student participants to a wide range of freshwater science topics in western Wisconsin. The fundamental goal of this program is to leverage high school student participation in the FSFE to spark interest in an undergraduate degree and career in freshwater science.


A Freshwater Science Summer Field Experience in Western Wisconsin

Program Type: Course Development, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Eau Claire, UW-River Falls, UW-Stout, UW Oshkosh
Grand Water Challenge: Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): J. Brian Mahoney
Status: Complete

The weeklong Freshwater Science Field Experience is designed as a field intensive, hands-on learning opportunity that will utilize multidisciplinary research activities in western Wisconsin to introduce participants to a wide range of freshwater science topics. It will target junior and senior high school students from across Wisconsin, creating a gateway for recruiting prospective undergraduate students interested in freshwater science. The second objective is to develop a certificate in Freshwater Science, which will be a multi-institution, interdisciplinary educational initiative that will provide specialized training in freshwater science and complement a wide range of undergraduate degrees.


An Evaluation of Phosphorus Loading Through Lacustrine Groundwater Discharge in Lake Altoona, Eau Claire County, WI

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Eau Claire, UW-River Falls
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management
Project Lead(s): Sarah Vitale
Status: Complete

Phosphorus loading in Wisconsin is responsible for significant lake eutrophication, causing a loss of recreational tourism, reducing commercial fisheries and decreasing biodiversity. Researchers will evaluate the role of nutrient loading through lacustrine groundwater discharge in Lake Altoona in Eau Claire County and identify probable sources of phosphorus to that hydrologic system. A UW-Eau Claire undergraduate student will participate in all phases of the project, including field data collection, laboratory analyses, data compilation and results dissemination. This project complements ongoing investigations at UW-Eau Claire in collaboration with UW-River Falls and the USGS Upper Midwest Water Science Center.


API: International Collaborative Communities Virtual Lab

Program Type: Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-La Crosse
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Karolyn Bald
Status: Complete

UW-La Crosse and its education abroad provider, API, will offer a virtual local and global community engagement opportunity/training program that addresses the Grand Water Challenges. Students will work collaboratively with team members from different international and domestic backgrounds to explore the basics of making changes, to recognize areas of challenge in the community and globally, and to produce a feasible action plan based on those challenges. Each project will support a local area’s need/issue through an international lens based on one of the 10 Grant Water Challenges.


Aquatic Biogeochemistry of Wisconsin Waters

Program Type: Course Development
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Whitewater
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Stephen Levas
Status: Complete

Faculty will collaborate to develop an interdisciplinary course in aquatic biogeochemistry that will utilize UW-Whitewater’s analytical instrumentation and equipment. This course will blend the expertise of current faculty (in limnology, wetlands, stream ecology, marine biology, aquatic toxicology and fluvial geomorphology) to offer hands-on training and immersion in aquatic biogeochemistry. This course will be part of a planned immersion semester in analytical chemistry and aquatic toxicology for Freshwater Collaborative students throughout the UW System.


Building a Toolbox to Evaluate the ROI on Redevelopment of Areas of Concern

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Whitewater, UW-La Crosse
Grand Water Challenge: Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Russell Kashian
Status: Complete

Faculty from the Institute for Water Business at UW-Whitewater will collaborate with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and UW-La Crosse to help students develop a uniform model that would value how Area of Concern (AOC) sediment cleanup and restoration projects affect a community’s economic vitality. This work will build upon an initial analysis of the economic impact of the Lower Menominee River AOC and will help provide quantitative information on the value of water improvements to state and local decision makers as these partners consider future projects in other AOCs.


Building Field and Laboratory Experiences for Freshwater Science Students

Program Type: Career Development, Course Development
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Milwaukee, UW-River Falls
Grand Water Challenge: Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Tracy Boyer, Kevin Thaisen
Status: Complete

In collaboration with UW Colleges, UW-Milwaukee faculty will expand “Exploration of Inland Seas” to include field and laboratory components; implement a capstone course during which students work directly with a natural resource agency or industry partner; and design a techniques-focused course that teaches students professional skills in the field and lab. UW-Milwaukee and UW-River Falls faculty will co-develop a hands-on course focused on the hydrology and biogeochemistry of Lake Michigan that incorporates field-based learning on real problems such as microplastic pollution impacts and mitigation policies.


Building Water Projects into an Environmental Math Course

Program Type: Course Development
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Tyler Skorczewski
Status: Complete

This project creates a new general education math course that shows students how to build and work with mathematical models that describe nature and how people interact with the environment. The course will highlight freshwater topics, such as storm runoff models and fish stocking, and will provide a solid foundation for students to study freshwater issues in more advanced courses and research projects.


Climate and Water: Innovative Weather for Future Professionals

Program Type: Career Development
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Milwaukee
Grand Water Challenge: Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Water Infrastructure, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Paul Roebber
Status: Complete

The Atmospheric Science program at UW-Milwaukee has provided a weather decision support experiential learning program called Innovative Weather to UW-Milwaukee students since 2007. This program serves the weather risk mitigation needs of community partners while serving the professional training goals of students. The Freshwater Collaborative support, recognizing the close connection between weather and freshwater, will extend this program’s reach across the state by providing this expertise to interested UW System researchers.


Collaborating to Protect and Monitor Streams in an Agricultural Landscape

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Platteville
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Kristopher Wright
Status: Active

Achieving a better understanding of Wisconsin’s water resources is essential for their long-term sustainability. However, for an individual agency or entity, limited personnel and resources can compromise this understanding. The proposed student-focused, collaborative approach integrates various stakeholders to mitigate these challenges. This project is a cooperative effort among UW-Platteville faculty advisors, undergraduate students, the Harry and Laura Nohr Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to monitor and assist management of stream communities and habitats in agriculture-based watersheds of southwest Wisconsin.


Collaborative Planning for Water Research at the Mann Valley Farm

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-River Falls
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Jill Wasik Coleman
Status: Active

The project will design an outdoor, multidisciplinary teaching and research space for studying agricultural water management issues in western Wisconsin. After investigating the available technologies through site visits and professional workshops, faculty will design research infrastructure for the UW-River Falls campus farm that is adaptable to changing needs and emerging issues. This living laboratory will offer students state-of-the-science training opportunities in agricultural water monitoring and management. It will also allow the university to host collaborative programming, research and outreach with other UW campuses, regional industries and local stakeholders.


Collaborative Undergraduate Course on Managing the Mississippi River

Program Type: Course Development
Collaborating Institutions: UW-La Crosse, UW-Platteville
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Alysa Remsburg, Austin Polebitski
Status: Active

This new cross-campus, cross-disciplinary course will connect students to their watersheds and foster an understanding of how changes in one part of a hydrologic system impact those upstream and downstream. Students will examine how land-use change and Mississippi River management have resulted in the infrastructure that we depend on and the environmental impacts that threaten natural waterways. This transformative course will bring students onto the Mississippi River, highlighting it as both a natural and managed system. It will present the benefits and challenges of river management for diverse stakeholders.


Comparative Wisconsin Freshwater Mussel Assessment: An Undergraduate Research Initiative

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Madison, UW-Platteville
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Gretchen Gerrish, Rebecca Doyle-Morin
Status: Complete

Freshwater mussel research is a rapidly emerging field due to their importance to water quality, their role as ecosystem health indicators and their threatened status. This project will train two undergraduate students in freshwater mussel conservation work and provide hands-on research opportunities to two graduate students. Students will engage with state agencies and in outreach that will raise mussel and water quality awareness in Wisconsin and highlight important work being conducted by Wisconsin’s state universities and agencies. This research will also provide the foundation for an international research exchange program between UW-Platteville and Murdoch University in Australia.


Computational Modeling for the Response of Dry Bean Yield to Irrigation

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management
Project Lead(s): Keith Wojciechowski, Tyler Skorczewski
Status: Complete

Funding will allow an undergraduate student to work with a small research team to calibrate a simulation model for managing agricultural water resources for growing dry beans in certain soil types. The desired outcome of this research is a data-driven mathematical model that will make up the code that will be translated into a mobile or online app for usage in the field or office. This app will help agronomists and their growers make smart decisions about when and how much to water their crops.


Continuation and Expansion of the Red Cedar Watershed Monitoring Project

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW Oshkosh, UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout, UW-River Falls
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Keith Gilland, Nicole Hayes, Julia Chapman, Amanda Little (UW-Stout)
Status: Active

The Red Cedar Watershed experiences frequent blue-green algae blooms due to phosphorus pollution. Numerous projects have been implemented to reduce runoff and restore stream channels and buffer areas. This project continues to examine the effectiveness of those projects while expanding research efforts to include whole-ecosystem and watershed processes to determine the root causes of the toxic algal blooms regularly seen in lakes in the region. Students from UW-Stout, UW-River Falls, UW-Eau Claire, and UW Oshkosh will work during the summer to survey streams, riparian corridors, and wetlands while also monitoring Lakes Tainter and Menomin to help guide management decisions regarding the Red Cedar Watershed to serve as a model for other similarly impacted watersheds throughout the region.


Continuing the Work of the Data Analysis and Monitoring Crew

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-River Falls
Grand Water Challenge: Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Jill Coleman Wasik
Status: Active

The Data Analysis and Monitoring Crew (or DAM Crew) is a two-week, hands-on, field-based training experience for UW students who are interested in river health and restoration. Participants work directly with practicing environmental professionals to attain the skills to implement a monitoring plan to assess ecological and geomorphological changes in a riverway that result from dam removal. The DAM Crew is a public-private partnership among UW-River Falls, the City of River Falls, Interfluve Inc., the Kinni Corridor Collaborative, and Trout Unlimited. Participants gain in-demand technical skills, increase their professional network, and serve the River Falls community.


Creating an Institutional Infrastructure for a Communication Hub to Support a UW System-wide Water Policy Network

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Infrastructure
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Eau Claire, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Industrial Water Engineering & Technology, Water Business & Finance, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration, UW Water Policy Network
Project Lead(s): Laura Suppes, Melissa Scanlan, Zach Raff
Status: Complete

This project provides long-term, institutional infrastructure for a communication hub to create a Water Policy Network of faculty, researchers and students who connect and collaborate on water policy issues across the UW System. The Center for Water Policy will convene regular virtual meetings of the Water Policy Network. The communication hub will support relationship-building across UW System, collaboration on research proposals and the development of water policy curriculum. It will also serve as a one-stop shop for government agencies, the private sector, NGOs, media and other stakeholders who would like to identify water policy collaborators and experts.


Creating and Characterizing a Zebrafish Knockout Line for Studying Methylmercury Metabolism

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Eau Claire, UW-Milwaukee
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Brad Carter, Michael Carvan
Status: Complete

This project will investigate the developmental effects of methylmercury, an environmental pollutant found in the freshwater resources of Wisconsin and the Great Lakes region. With faculty guidance, an undergraduate student will create and characterize a zebrafish knockout line for a gene associated with the biology of methylmercury. Understanding gene interactions will enable improved guidelines for food consumption related to methylmercury, particularly for children and pregnant women. Data may also inform future research into other contaminants associated with Wisconsin’s freshwater resources.


Creating Collaborative Educational Opportunities with the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin

Program Type: Course Development
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Stevens Point
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Industrial Water Engineering & Technology, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Brian Sloss
Status: Active

UW-Stevens Point will lead an online educational pathway to a Freshwater Science minor. This program will allow systemwide access to UW-Stevens Point’s water resources curriculum, including core required courses and a series of electives. Select offerings from other UW System schools will be incorporated to develop a collaborative UW System Freshwater Science credential. The classes will provide fundamental understanding of the physical, chemical and biological aspects of freshwater resources. The curriculum includes an immersive, hands-on experience modeled after the UW-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources Summer Field Experience. Future development by Freshwater Collaborative members will expand immersive opportunities.


Cross-Campus and Partner Expansion of the Red Cedar Basin Monitoring Project

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW Oshkosh, UW-River Falls, UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Keith Gilland
Status: Complete

The Red Cedar Watershed experiences frequent blue-green algae blooms due to phosphorus pollution. Numerous projects have been implemented to reduce runoff and restore stream channels and buffer areas. This project continues a pilot project to examine the effectiveness of those projects while expanding research efforts to determine the root causes of the toxic algal blooms regularly seen in lakes in the region. Students will work during the summer to survey streams and collect water samples to guide management decisions regarding the Red Cedar Watershed to serve as a model for other similarly impacted watersheds throughout the region.


Data Collection and Parameter Estimation for a Dry Bean Yield Response to Irrigation Model

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management
Project Lead(s): Keith Wojciechowski
Status: Active

The goal of this project is to help growers manage water resources and potentially increase yield. The research team at UW-Stout will construct automated weather stations and place them in fields containing crops. These stations will collect a variety of weather-related and plant-related data. UW-Stout’s team will analyze this data to help inform the agronomy team at corporate partner, Chippewa Valley Bean, so they can better advise their growers. Students working on this project will help construct weather stations and analyze data. Conducting this research will help these students develop a nascent expertise in precision agriculture.


Deposition and removal of emerging contaminants in the Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern

Program Type: Collaborative Research
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee
Grand Water Challenge: Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Inna Popova, UW-Madison; Laodong Guo, UWM
Status: Active

The Greater Milwaukee Estuary faces pollution from emerging contaminants, such as PFAS and pharmaceuticals, posing risks to both the environment and public health. These contaminants are removed from the water through natural processes and accumulate in sediment, where they can persist for long periods, threatening organisms and humans who come in contact with them. The pollution history of these contaminants in the estuary remains poorly understood. This collaborative research project involves the analysis of sediment cores to study the contaminants’ history and behavior. The findings will aid in managing and remediating aquatic contaminations.


Developing an Easy-to-Apply, Integrated Approach to Modeling Freshwater Contamination from Farm Runoff Using Only Commercial Drones, Cameras and Software

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Abhimanyu Ghosh
Status: Active

This project will study the flow of contaminants, such as pesticides, from farm fields to open water bodies. The project will use a commercial unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV/drone) and camera to collect flow data over large farm fields and commercial software to investigate flow patterns and predict contaminant spread. The goal is to develop an easy-to-apply process for users with minimal technical knowledge about drones or flow simulation. This study can help farm communities, industrial farms and state agencies dealing with Wisconsin’s natural resources make informed decisions toward protecting freshwater bodies.


Developing an Easy-to-Apply, Integrated Approach to Modeling Freshwater Contamination from Farm Runoff Using Only Commercial Drones, Cameras and Software

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Stout
Project Lead(s): Abhimanyu Ghosh, Abhishek Verma
Status: Active

This grant will provide additional funding to enhance student research experience, as part of a previously funded project that will use a commercial unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV/drone) and camera to collect flow data over large farm fields, and a commercial software to investigate flow patterns and predict contaminant spread. The goal is to develop an easy-to-apply process for users with minimal technical knowledge about drones or flow simulation. This study could help farm communities, industrial farms and state agencies dealing with Wisconsin’s natural resources make informed decisions toward protecting freshwater bodies.


Developing an Introduction to Freshwater Undergraduate Course

Program Type: Course Development
Collaborating Institutions: UW-La Crosse, UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW Oshkosh, UW-Parkside
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Industrial Water Engineering & Technology, Water Business & Finance, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Tracy Boyer
Status: Active

Faculty from five UW System institutions will develop an Introduction to Freshwater course to be offered on their campuses. This course will be the foundational introductory science-based course that will underpin the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin undergraduate curricula. It will be built around a series of carefully curated case studies that will span the breadth of freshwater science and its relevance to ecosystems and society. The course will ultimately be made available to students at all UW campuses.


Development of “People, Water and The Environment” Course

Program Type: Course Development
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Innisfree McKinnon
Status: Complete

This project creates a new introductory-level course for UW-Stout’s Bachelor of Environmental Science program that introduces students to the human dimensions of conservation with a focus on water quality issues. This course will prepare students for conservation careers that involve working with communities, landowners and other stakeholders by combining theoretical, disciplinary and practical approaches to human environment interactions with applied case studies on freshwater issues, local field trips and guest speakers.


Development of a Collaborative Undergraduate Research Experience to Improve Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) Adsorption in Nanoporous Solids

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Stevens Point, UW-Milwaukee
Grand Water Challenge: Industrial Water Engineering & Technology, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Joseph Mondloch, UW-Stevens Point; Yin Wang, Shangping Xu, UWM
Status: Active

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (aka PFAS) are emerging contaminants in Wisconsin’s waterways. This project provides funding to develop a collaborative undergraduate research experience between UW-Stevens Point and UW-Milwaukee to develop new PFAS adsorption technology. Researchers will test our technology against PFAS contaminated waters including real-world samples from Wisconsin’s waterways. Hands-on experience using start-of-the-art instrumentation will prepare students to enter the workforce with experience in PFAS chemistry, analysis, and treatment.


Development of a Cross-Campus Certificate in Freshwater Studies

Program Type: Course Development
Collaborating Institutions: UW Oshkosh, UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Greg Kleinheinz, Keith Gilland, Amanda Little
Status: Complete

Faculty will develop a collaborative certificate in Surface Water Studies through UW-Stout and UW Oshkosh with eventual course enrollment open to students at any participating UW campus. This three-course, nine-credit certificate will include an introductory online course in surface water resources and two summer field courses taught in surface water resources and environmental monitoring. This proposal builds on an existing course already approved at UW Oshkosh, while leveraging unique field study opportunities near each campus. This certificate will be open to all UW students to augment the majors on their home campuses.


Economic Impacts of Wisconsin Fishing Supported by the Freshwater Resources of Lake Michigan and Bay of Green Bay

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Green Bay, UW-Whitewater
Grand Water Challenge: Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Business & Finance
Project Lead(s): Matthew Winden
Status: Active

Student and faculty researchers seek to quantify the total economic value of the freshwater fishery resources of Lake Michigan and Bay of Green Bay to the state of Wisconsin. They will also analyze how different fishery management strategies and climate change scenarios may affect the quality, and therefore economic value, of these resources. Changes in quality and economic value in turn affect the health of regional economies and welfare of residents and visitors. Ultimately, this information helps inform resource managers about the most efficient and effective strategies available to maximize the value of this resource now and in the future.


Educators and Students Rise to Freshwater Challenges

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Green Bay
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Kevin Fermanich, Emily Tyner
Status: Active

This project will enhance community-based experiential learning opportunities for pre-college students and teachers around the Green Bay and Lake Michigan watersheds. The effort will build a community of freshwater-focused educators and middle and high school students, link to statewide water experts, and engage a diversity of urban to rural communities within the UW-Green Bay geography. Intended outcomes include promoting water career knowledge and aspirations among students, recruiting students to UW-Green Bay and UW System water-centric programs, building skills in students at all levels, and expanding equity, inclusion and diversity efforts.


Effects of a Mixture of Two Neonicotinoid Insecticides on Reproduction of Ceriodaphnia dubia Water Fleas and Growth of Gammarus pseudolimnaeus Amphipods

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Whitewater
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Elisabeth Harrahy
Status: Complete

Neonicotinoid insecticides are widely used in agriculture, and studies have shown that some aquatic invertebrates can be sensitive to them. In agricultural areas, mixtures of neonicotinoids are frequently detected in surface waters; however, very few studies have examined the effects of more than one neonicotinoid at a time. The project will provide for an undergraduate student who will work on toxicology tests to determine the effects of a mixture of two neonicotinoids on two aquatic organisms. Her data will be added to a larger collaborative project with UW-La Crosse and UW-Madison and summarized in a report to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.


Effects of a Mixture of Two Neonicotinoid Insecticides on Survival and Growth of Gammarus pseudolimnaeus Amphipods

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Whitewater
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Elisabeth Harrahy
Status: Complete

Neonicotinoid pesticides are often applied as a coating to crop seeds, but studies have shown that some aquatic invertebrates can be sensitive to neonicotinoids. This project will leverage collaborative research with faculty at UW-La Crosse into the effects of thiamethoxam and imidacloprid on aquatic invertebrates. The project will provide funding to hire an undergraduate student who will work on toxicology tests to determine the effects of imidacloprid on survival and growth of the G. pseudolimnaeus, which serves as food for fish and is an important organism in lakes and streams throughout Wisconsin.


Engaging Undergraduate Students in Cutting-Edge Research on the Use of Earth Materials for the Removal of Contaminants including Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS)

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Parkside, UW-Milwaukee
Grand Water Challenge: Industrial Water Engineering & Technology, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Zhaohui Li, Lori Allen, UW-Parkside; Shangping Xu, Yin Wang, UWM
Status: Active

Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are forever chemicals, indicating that they stay in water and the environment permanently. UW-Parkside and UW-Milwaukee will engage 10 undergraduate students per year to conduct cutting-edge research for PFAS and color dyes removal from water. In addition, they will conduct PFAS analyses using state-of-the-art instruments for water samples collected from local drainage and Lake Michigan. The results will help southeastern Wisconsin to develop strategies to remove emerging contaminants from water and to help protect the region from contamination by forever chemicals.


Enhancing Water-focused Internships

Program Type: Career Development, Course Development, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Superior
Grand Water Challenge: Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Daniel Rust
Status: Complete

UW-Superior has required TRSP-400 internships for all Transportation and Logistics Management majors since 1999. These internships have typically been with marine transportation companies, ports, planning agencies and departments of transportation. This project aims to broaden internships to include collaboration with marinas, recreational boatyards, tribal communities and non-governmental agencies engaged with recreational and transportation use in northern Wisconsin’s Lake Superior ports. The enhanced internships will provide students with in-depth, hands-on learning. The methodology can then be applied across the state by other UW System universities.


Environmental and Health Effects of Water Pollution: A Transformative Experience for Undergraduates

Program Type: Course Development
Collaborating Institutions: UW-La Crosse, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Whitewater
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Tisha King-Heiden, Michael Carvan, Elisabeth Harrahy
Status: Active

Faculty will develop a two-course series focused on water pollution and its effects on environmental and human health, including an online, two-credit, introductory-level course and a three-credit field and lab course. Students will learn about major contaminant classes and methods for testing contaminant toxicity with a focus on agricultural water management and wastewater treatment. They will also learn how environmental legislation relates to water-quality criteria, Superfund sites, and mitigation and restoration of contaminated sites. Any UW System student will have access to the online lecture course, and students in the lab course will be provided hands-on experiences and the opportunity to meet with people who work in government, consulting or at a state lab.


Environmental Science Fair at UWEC: Water, Water, Everywhere!

Program Type: Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Eau Claire
Grand Water Challenge: Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Sarah Vitale
Status: Active

This new project is a one-day multi-disciplinary Environmental Science Fair at the UW-Eau Claire campus for up to 100 regional high school students and accompanying high school teachers/advisers. The fair will include hands-on breakout sessions, a panel, a plenary speaker, and a traditional program fair for participants to interact with environmental science faculty at UW-Eau Claire. Freshwater Collaborative programming will be advertised to participants.


Establishing a Network for Cross-Campus Courses at the Nexus of Agriculture and Water

Program Type: Course Development, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Green Bay, UW-Madison, UW-Stevens Point
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Kevin Fermanich
Status: Complete

This initiative will build a cross-campus network of UW System faculty to develop online course modules and field experiences at the intersection of agriculture and water resources. The initiative will leverage the regional variations in Wisconsin agriculture and the specializations of faculty on different UW campuses. Activities will provide a solid basis for broader collaboration to develop expanded opportunities for undergraduates at the nexus of agriculture and water.


Establishing a Network for Cross-Campus Courses at the Nexus of Agriculture and Water

Program Type: Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Platteville
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Joseph Sanford
Status: Complete

This grant provides funding for UW-Platteville students to participate in the primary project, which is led by UW-Green Bay.


Establishment and Support of the Red Cedar Basin Monitoring Group

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Keith Gilland
Status: Complete

The Red Cedar Watershed experiences frequent blue-green algae blooms due to phosphorus pollution. Numerous projects have been implemented to reduce runoff and restore stream channels and buffer areas. This project looks at how effective those projects have been by using aerial imagery to identify streams in the watershed where work has been done and areas that might be contributing to water quality problems. Students will establish monitoring locations in streams that are impacted by nearby land use and conduct monitoring to identify successes and areas for improvement in habitat management for water quality.


Establishment of the Center for Rural Opportunities, Prosperity and Sustainability

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Business & Finance, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Zach Raff
Status: Complete

This project supports the establishment of a center at UW-Stout that will help develop successful rural communities in the region through environmental and economic sustainability. The target audience of the center is UW-Stout faculty, students and the regional rural community of the Red Cedar Watershed. The goals of the center are to identify opportunities for research, service learning, outreach, community involvement and student experiences that will examine agricultural water management and the nonpoint source runoff of nutrients to address issues in environmental, social and economic sustainability.


Evaluation of Downstream Juvenile Lake Sturgeon Passage Through Two Dams on the Menominee River

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Green Bay
Grand Water Challenge: Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Patrick S. Forsythe
Status: Active

Lake Sturgeon passage has been embraced as a restoration prescription in the Great Lakes. Adaptive management strategies dictate that quantitative assessment of passage benefits be provided to managers. This project will evaluate the effectiveness of downstream juvenile passage on the Menominee River and through the Park Mill and Menominee Dams. Faculty and student researchers will evaluate the movement of tagged age-0 lake sturgeon to better understand habitat use, downstream passage and survival. Our data will influence future fish passage operation at the Menominee facility and others around the Great Lakes and build justification for restoring spawning habitats in upstream areas where passage is discussed.


Evaluation of Filter Media for Phosphorus Removal in Agricultural Runoff Treatment Systems

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Green Bay, UW-Madison
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Michael Holly
Status: Complete

Edge of field treatments are required within the Great Lakes watershed to treat agricultural runoff and improve water quality. Agricultural runoff treatment systems — including constructed wetlands and sedimentation basins — reduce suspended sediment; however, additional technologies are required to further remove phosphorus. Student and faculty researchers will evaluate natural and industrial byproducts for their ability to absorb phosphorus. Results will be used by communities and conservation groups to facilitate selection and design of low-cost systems for treatment of field runoff receiving manure.


Evaluation of Filter Media Sorption Kinetics and Flow Through Performance for Phosphorus Removal in Agricultural Runoff Treatment Systems

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Green Bay, UW-Platteville
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Joseph Sanford
Status: Complete

Agricultural runoff often contains concentrations of phosphorus that can result in water quality issues, such as algal blooms. Sediment basins, constructed wetlands and buffer strips are often used to reduce phosphorus; however, more effective practices are needed to further reduce concentrations. This research will investigate sorption capacities of different media. Undergraduate researchers will assess modified manure solids and corn stover biochar as alternative media. Researchers will use results to obtain funding to develop field scale pilot systems that would provide UW campuses, communities and conservation groups with low-cost treatment systems for reducing phosphorus from agricultural runoff.


Examining the Neurobehavioral Toxicity of Mixtures of Two Neonicotinoid Pesticides in Fathead Minnow Larvae

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-La Crosse
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Tisha King-Heiden
Status: Complete

Neonicotinoid pesticides are an emerging contaminant of concern. Fish are not likely to show overt toxic responses following exposure to these pesticides; however, the researcher’s previous work has shown that acute exposure to thiamethoxam can stimulate embryonic motor activity in fish embryos and that in fathead minnow chronic exposure reduces survival and hatching success and delays the predatory escape response. This project supported an undergraduate student who helped to reestablish the university’s fish culture following COVID shutdown and evaluated the effects of acute exposure to thiamethoxam and imidacloprid. Students in the lab also had the opportunity to job shadow at Davy Laboratories.


Examining the Neurobehavioral Toxicity of the Emerging Contaminant Imidacloprid

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-La Crosse
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Tisha King-Heiden
Status: Complete

Neonicotinoid pesticides make up 90 percent of agricultural pesticide use nationally. A growing body of evidence suggests that exposure may adversely affect aquatic invertebrates and fish. This project will leverage collaborative work with faculty at UW-Whitewater into the toxicity of thiamethoxam and imidacloprid and will develop collaborative efforts with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists. It will also provide funding for an undergraduate student who will receive research experience and develop workforce skills. Results may be useful in implementing use restrictions and developing surface water quality criteria to protect fish and aquatic life.


Expanding the LAKES REU to Wisconsin Students

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Tina Lee
Status: Complete

The Linking Applied Knowledge in Environmental Sustainability Research Experience for Undergraduates (LAKES REU) is a summer experience that brings students from across the country to UW-Stout to work on research related to phosphorus pollution and its mitigation in the Red Cedar Watershed. This project expands the learning, community engagement and career development opportunities currently provided by opening two spots for students in the UW-System who are enrolled in programs related to the Freshwater Collaborative.


Freshwater Camp: A Summer Field Experience for High School Juniors

Program Type: Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Parkside, UW-Whitewater
Grand Water Challenge: Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Jessica Orlofske, Elisabeth Harrahy
Status: Complete

Opportunities for careers in freshwater are not well-known in underserved communities throughout the rural-urban corridor of southeastern Wisconsin. UW-Parkside and UW-Whitewater will offer a water-focused high school recruitment program in the region. This program will highlight important freshwater habitats, build participants’ confidence and skills with hands-on field and laboratory activities, and present information on freshwater career and training opportunities to an initial cohort of 18 high school juniors from southeastern Wisconsin.


Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin Statewide Internship Program

Program Type: Career Development
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Industrial Water Engineering & Technology, Water Business & Finance, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): James P. Hurley, Rebecca Klaper, Sandra McLellan
Status: Active

Internships provide essential on-the-job training for students; however, there is currently no undergraduate internship program focused on career opportunities in water. UW-Milwaukee and UW-Madison will create a statewide program by expanding their relationships with current industry partners (DNR, USGS, SEWRPC) and engaging new ones through their connections with The Water Council. They will also establish an undergraduate-focused Industry and Agency Advisory Committee to strengthen and promote connections, to learn about undergraduate opportunities, and identify skills needed for internships and job placement. The goal is to develop a streamlined process for matching qualified UW students with water-related opportunities.


Freshwater Collaborative University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Student Internships Through Collaborative Partnerships

Program Type: Career Development
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Green Bay
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Industrial Water Engineering & Technology, Water Business & Finance, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): John Arendt
Status: Active

This project focuses on career development around water-centric internships in collaboration with community partners. This project will build linkages among Freshwater Collaborative programming and businesses, industries and agencies across a 16-county footprint focused on water-driven economies stretching from the UW-GB campus in Sheboygan to the shipyards near the UW-GB, Marinette Campus. Internships will prepare students to help partners solve water challenges. Initially focused on collaboration across the Green Bay campus communities, the program could become part of the statewide Freshwater Collaborative network, linking students to professional opportunities more widely.


Freshwater Science Across the Curriculum: Linked Outreach and Advanced Educational Activities

Program Type: Course Development, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Eau Claire, UW Oshkosh, UW-River Falls, UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Sarah Vitale, Holly Dolliver
Status: Complete

The project continues to develop the Freshwater Science Field Experience in western Wisconsin, an outreach and recruitment program targeting junior and senior high school students. It is a field-intensive, hands-on learning experience that introduces participants to a wide range of freshwater science topics with specialists from UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout and UW-River Falls. The second objective of this project further develops an immersive eight-day Western Wisconsin Advanced Freshwater Field Course for undergraduates with hands-on experiences designed to increase the employability of UW System students across the state.


Freshwater Science across the Curriculum: Linked Outreach and Advanced Educational Activities in Western Wisconsin

Program Type: Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Eau Claire, UW Oshkosh, UW-River Falls, UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Sarah Vitale, UW-Eau Claire
Status: Active

This ongoing project includes two freshwater science field courses in western Wisconsin: one targeting junior and senior high school students and the other an advanced course designed for upper-level college students. These field-intensive, hands-on learning experiences introduce participants to a wide range of freshwater science topics with specialists from UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout, UW-River Falls, and UW Oshkosh. Courses are open to students enrolled in high schools across Wisconsin or from any UW System campus respectively.


Freshwater Science Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Eau Claire, UW-River Falls, UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): J. Brian Mahoney, Jill Coleman Wasik, Tina Lee
Status: Complete

The Freshwater Science Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (FSREU) is designed to develop a research program focusing on freshwater science and involving multiple departments and regional campuses. This multidisciplinary thematic focus on freshwater issues, including the 10 Grand Water Challenges, will attract students and faculty from numerous departments. The FSREU is a collaborative project with the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at UW-Eau Claire and will provide funding for up to 10 research projects in 2022. The program will highlight educational opportunities and potential career pathways in freshwater science to a wide variety of undergraduate students.


Freshwater@UW: An Immersive Undergraduate Summer Research Opportunities Program for the University of Wisconsin System

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Madison
Grand Water Challenge: Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Alison Mikulyuk
Status: Active

The Freshwater@UW Summer Research Opportunities Program provides immersive, hands-on mentored research experiences to 27 promising undergraduates within the 13 member institutions of the Freshwater Collaborative. The program’s central aim is to support the growth of our freshwater research enterprise and freshwater workforce through collaborative, cross-system programming designed to train, recruit, retain and diversify the next generation of freshwater professionals. Funds will support the third and fourth year of implementation and continued program development as we strive to create new, high-impact opportunities for talented students to build their skill and cultivate relationships within the UW System to that will help them seek further training in freshwater science.


From Field to Laboratory: Hands-on Techniques for Students in Water Sciences

Program Type: Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-River Falls, UW-Madison
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Bahareh Hassanpour, UW-River Falls; Grace Bulltail; UW-Madison
Status: Active

This course focuses on hands-on laboratory and field techniques for studying freshwaters. Researchers will provide training in practical aspects of field measurements and laboratory practices pre-and post-sampling for students. They will conduct field campaigns for various purposes; will discuss the complexity and uncertainty of fieldwork; and focus on obtaining and preserving samples, and appropriate labeling. The laboratory training will range from day-to-day tasks, such as properly pipetting, keeping detailed records, sample preparation, and storage, to more complex analytic work, such as analyzing water samples using analytical instruments. Faculty will also work with students work on data analysis and poster presentation.


From Field to Laboratory: Hands-on Techniques for Students in Water Sciences

Program Type: Course Development
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Madison, UW-River Falls
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Bahareh Hassanpour
Status: Complete

Laboratory and field training are essential in water-related fields of study. Faculty on this project will develop a two-credit transformative course that focuses on laboratory and field techniques for freshwater-related work. The objective is to increase students’ field and laboratory skills to support professional development and cultivate interest in freshwater sciences. Faculty will focus on practical knowledge of field measurements related to water quality and nutrient analysis and good laboratory practices pre-and post-sampling. They aim to reach out to an array of students from diverse backgrounds across Wisconsin.


Future Water Leaders Fund Student Pilot Program

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Milwaukee
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Industrial Water Engineering & Technology, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Sandra McLellan
Status: Complete

UW-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences will partner with The Water Council to expand the Future Water Leaders Pilot Program. This program will enable students to add tactical, in-field experience to their academic pursuits and actualize ideas that can be built and demonstrated to positively impact the Grand Water Challenges in Wisconsin. The Water Council promotes innovation and discovery in Wisconsin’s water community, and this program gives students an opportunity for high visibility for their projects within the business and stakeholder community, helping to create a pipeline to jobs.


Groundwater-Forest Interactions as Guide for Artificial Groundwater Recharge Strategies to Support Agricultural and Ecosystems in the Central Sands

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Madison, UW-Platteville
Grand Water Challenge: Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Steven Loheide, Evan R. Larson, Chris Kucharik
Status: Complete

Food, forests and fisheries rely on groundwater in the Central Sands region. Extracting groundwater for irrigation has protected against drought and increased crop production, leading to a vibrant potato and vegetable industry. However, continued extraction has depleted groundwater reserves and threatens agriculture, forests, tourism and environmental systems. Research results will determine the extent to which groundwater depletion has reduced forest productivity in the region. Faculty and student researchers will evaluate the feasibility for managing the impacts of agricultural groundwater withdrawals using managed artificial aquifer recharge, which artificially recharges aquifers in a controlled condition to store water for later use.


How Does the Function of Lake Superior’s Littoral Zone Change in the Presence of Rock Snot, an Ecologically Disruptive Diatom?

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW Oshkosh
Grand Water Challenge: Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Robert Pillsbury, Sabrina Mueller-Spitz
Status: Complete

Invasive species have plagued the Great Lakes since the European settlement, and blooms of rock snot (Didymosphenia geminata) are occurring more frequently along its pristine shores and tributaries. Researchers will quantify the changes in the bacterial community and begin to understand the extent and change of function. They will use samples appropriate to answer these questions that were collected and preserved from a previously funded grant (a collaborative effort between the Minnesota Science Museum and UW Oshkosh).


How We See Water: A Transdisciplinary Course on Wisconsin Water Resources

Program Type: Course Development
Collaborating Institutions: UW-River Falls
Grand Water Challenge: Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Grace L. Coggio
Status: Complete

This course focuses on water-related issues impacting western Wisconsin and the needs of local businesses and organizations. It includes a substantial community-based learning experience that integrates multiple stakeholders, including cross-campus collaborations with other UW schools. Faculty from a variety of disciplines and students from different majors provide a team-based, transdisciplinary experience that expands how students understand and address water-based problems/opportunities in the region. The goal is to serve as a model for other campuses seeking to address water-related issues in a transdisciplinary manner and for the course to become part of the Freshwater Collaborative curriculum.


Human Interactions with Lake Michigan Coastal Ecosystems

Program Type: Course Development, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Green Bay, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Parkside
Grand Water Challenge: Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Chris Houghton, John Janssen, Julie Kinzelman
Status: Complete

Faculty and staff will create a nine-day summer survey/field study course along Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan coast, stopping at major harbors and sites of social/environmental interest. Course content will be informed by completed/ongoing harbor mapping and the NOAA National Marine Sanctuary. Students will become familiar with Great Lakes ecosystem complexity juxtaposing natural areas against heavily human-impacted harbors. The focus will be on diverse efforts to restore/create a coastline in which harbors interact with the open coast in a way that facilitates “ecosystem services” i.e., humans derive benefits from the natural environment. Faculty intend coordination/engagement with the Wisconsin DNR and local stakeholders.


Land Application and the Occurrence, Fate and Mitigation of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances and Nitrate

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Green Bay, UW-Madison, UW-Platteville, UW-Stevens Point
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience
Project Lead(s): Michael Holly
Status: Active

In Wisconsin, land application is typically the most cost-effective and common practice for handling biosolids, the semi-solid residual of wastewater treatment. However, groundwater contamination is a potential risk Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a suspected hazardous chemical present in numerous household products and used in manufacturing, aren’t included in biosolids land application regulations. This research will help predict future PFAS groundwater contamination, generate future guidelines to protect groundwater wells from PFAS, identify Wisconsin groundwater sources at risk, and evaluate a low-cost treatment (biochar produced from agricultural waste) to minimize PFAS and nitrate leaching. Undergraduates will be trained in methods for measuring the fate and transport of contaminants that affect water quality.


Leachability and Plant-Availability of Phosphorus Sorbed to Agricultural Runoff Filter Media

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Green Bay, UW-Milwaukee
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Michael Holly
Status: Complete

Agricultural runoff treatment systems, including sedimentation basins and filter media, are an edge-of-field practice that reduce nutrient inputs, such as phosphorus, to the surface waters of Wisconsin. Evaluation of filter media consisting of natural and engineered materials is ongoing, however, analysis is needed to determine sustainable end-of-life options that would keep phosphorus and other metals from leaching into the environment. Researchers will investigate the physio-chemical characteristics, desorption, plant availability, reusability and leaching potential of filter media to determine long-term treatment potential. Results will help communities and conservation groups select sustainable filter media for treatment of runoff from manured fields.


Lead, Facilitate and Support Policy Research for the UW Water Policy Network

Program Type: Collaborative Research
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Milwaukee
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Industrial Water Engineering & Technology, Water Business & Finance, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration, UW Water Policy Network
Project Lead(s): Melissa Scanlan
Status: Complete

The Center for Water Policy leads, facilitates and supports the UW Water Policy Network, which serves as a hub for government agencies, private sector, NGOs, media and other stakeholders to identify water policy collaborators and experts. This project will foster collaboration on water policy research and curriculum across UW System by strengthening relationships among multidisciplinary faculty, researchers and students working on freshwater policy. The center convenes the UW Water Policy Network for presentations and discussions around key policy issues identified in the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin’s 10 Grand Water Challenges.


Lead, facilitate, and support policy research for the UW Water Policy Network

Program Type: Collaborative Research
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Milwaukee
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Industrial Water Engineering & Technology, Water Business & Finance, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration, UW Water Policy Network
Project Lead(s): Melissa Scanlan
Status: Active

The Center for Water Policy leads, facilitates and supports the UW Water Policy Network, which serves as a hub for government agencies, private sector, NGOs, media and other stakeholders to identify water policy collaborators and experts. This project will foster collaboration on water policy research and curriculum across UW System by strengthening relationships among multidisciplinary faculty, researchers and students working on freshwater policy. The center convenes the UW Water Policy Network for presentations and discussions around key policy issues identified in the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin’s 10 Grand Water Challenges.


Leveraging the Strength of the Wisconsin Agriculture-Water Nexus Network (WAW2N) for Transformative Student Experiences

Program Type: Course Development, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Green Bay, UW-Madison, UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Stephan Kpoti Gunn
Status: Active

The cross-campus Wisconsin Agriculture-Water Nexus Network will create transformational education experiences that provide students with a greater understanding of the connection between agriculture and water and the need for multidisciplinary solutions that support both food production and maintaining high-quality freshwater resources across Wisconsin. The project will also support the online delivery of a newly designed cross-campus course at the nexus of agriculture and water, which will highlight learnings at the ag-water nexus attained under previous Freshwater Collaborative–funded projects. A multiday field trip course built around variations in southwest Wisconsin agriculture will complement the online course. Bringing together experienced and new faculty/staff as well as community and academic partners to co-develop transformative student experiences will also strengthen the Freshwater Collaborative’s goals. This project increases the number of involved UW institutions from three to six.


Limnology: Conservation of Aquatic Resources (Zoo 315)

Program Type: Course Development
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Madison
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Jake Vander Zanden
Status: Complete

This project will begin to build the curricular foundation for core Freshwater Collaborative teaching activities at UW-Madison, including a hands-on summer limnology course open to UW System undergraduates and a freshwater-focused certificate program at UW-Madison. Faculty will employ a suite of strategies to recruit students from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented groups into the course and certificate program, with the aim of building the pipeline necessary for diversifying the field. Partnering with other programs will help recruit a diverse cohort of UW System students to gain enriching experiences at UW-Madison.


Micro- and Nanoplastics as Vectors for the Transport of Organic Contaminants in Freshwater Environments: Influence of Natural Organic Matter and Plastic Weathering

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee
Grand Water Challenge: Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Joel Pedersen, Laodong Guo
Status: Active

Microplastics have been widely documented in fish, air and natural waters, and have been found in drinking water, sewage, soil and sediment. Nanoplastics have been shown to be even more toxic to organisms and could serve as vectors for transporting emerging contaminants and other organic pollutants into freshwater ecosystems. Researchers examined the interactions between these toxic plastics and selected organic contaminants to determine how natural organic matter affects how they break down in freshwater environments. This project trained four undergraduate students, fostered collaborative freshwater research between UW-Milwaukee and UW-Madison and produced baseline data that led to a grant from the National Science Foundation.


Microbial Ecology, BIOL 312

Program Type: Course Development
Collaborating Institutions: UW-River Falls
Grand Water Challenge: Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Lathadevi Karuna Chintapenta
Status: Complete

The biology department will develop a microbial ecology course that will help students gain understanding of the biology of microorganisms and apply this knowledge to explore how microbes help in the functioning of natural ecosystems. This course will offer hands-on experience for students to enhance their understanding of microbial interactions with plants and the environment. This grant will provide additional research and field opportunities for UW-River Falls biology students to work in the community and become competitive in the careers they want to pursue in the future.


Microplastics – A Multidisciplinary Approach to Understanding Sources, Transport, Adsorption of POPs, and Fate in St. Louis River Estuary and Western Lake Superior

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Eau Claire, UW-Madison, UW-Superior
Grand Water Challenge: Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Nimish Pujara, Lorena Rios Mendoza, Todd Wellnitz, Dustin Haines
Status: Active

Microplastic are an emerging aquatic pollutant. Faculty, five undergraduates and one graduate student will examine microplastics in the environment and in digestive tracks of aquatic organisms living in western Lake Superior and the St. Louis River Estuary to gain a clearer picture of the potential harm these particles can cause to the local water quality, food webs and human populations. Undergraduates from UW-Eau Claire will also collaborate with area high school teachers to develop a lesson plan about microplastics, and undergraduates from all three institutions will collaborate with staff from Duluth’s Great Lakes Aquarium to create an interactive exhibit to teach the public about microplastics in the St. Louis River Estuary and Lake Superior.


Microplastics in the Lake Winnebago and Upper Mississippi River Systems and the Implications for Food Webs and Water Treatment Infrastructure

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-La Crosse, UW Oshkosh
Grand Water Challenge: Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Robert Stelzer, Eric Strauss, Greg Kleinheinz
Status: Active

Microplastic contamination poses a water-quality safety issue and is an emerging contaminant of importance for many stakeholders in Wisconsin. Researchers will collaborate with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Long Term Resource Monitoring Group to determine the quantity and types of microplastics in the Lake Winnebago System and the Upper Mississippi River. Results will inform advanced research that will help identify how environmentally realistic concentrations of microplastics impact freshwater food webs, human health and water treatment infrastructure. Several students will receive training in freshwater research and participate in team-building opportunities and cross-visits between universities that will prepare them for advanced degrees and jobs in the water sector.


Mitigating Eutrophication Events: Understanding Controls on Phosphorus Contamination in Surface Water and Groundwater in Western Wisconsin

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Eau Claire, UW-River Falls
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Sarah Vitale, Brian Mahoney, Holly Dolliver
Status: Active

Phosphorus loading in Wisconsin is responsible for significant lake eutrophication, causing a loss of recreational tourism, reducing commercial fisheries and decreasing biodiversity. UW faculty and five undergraduate students will collaborate with the USGS Upper Midwest Water Science Center to investigate phosphorus migration in the hydrologic system and the potential impact of nutrient-loading through groundwater discharge on lake eutrophication. Findings may better inform sustainable management of lakes. Interested stakeholders include regulatory agencies, scientific organizations, environmental groups, the agricultural and silica sand mining industries, and communities across the state of Wisconsin and the upper Midwest impacted by phosphorus-driven eutrophication.


Mitigating PFAS Contamination of Groundwater: Biochar Sequestration of PFAS in Biosolid Leachate at the Field Scale

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Green Bay, UW-Milwaukee
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience
Project Lead(s): Kpoti Gunn, Michael Holly, UW-Green Bay; Yin Wang, UWM
Status: Active

Sewage sludge or biosolids generated in Wisconsin are largely applied to agricultural lands. Through this practice, biosolids may be the most diffuse source PFAS contamination of groundwater resources. This project aims to evaluate onsite the PFAS immobilization performance of activated biochar incorporated in soils receiving biosolids, and to develop methods for PFAS analysis of soil and groundwater leachate. Four undergraduate students involved in the project will contribute to experimental setup, soil and water sampling; laboratory and data analysis; and results publication. The project will provide students and faculty with research experience critical to the development of an emerging contaminant workforce.


My River Adventures (MRA) Pre-College Camp

Program Type: Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-La Crosse
Grand Water Challenge: Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience
Project Lead(s): Monica Yang
Status: Complete

The UW-La Crosse MRA camp is a six-day residential camp for incoming 7-12 grade students. Students will use the UW-La Crosse campus as their homebase while they enjoy a week of instructional sessions and visits to rivers in the Driftless region for hands-on fieldwork and lab activities in collaboration with UW- La Crosse faculty, local educators and community members. This camp fosters recruitment, access and aspirations for a career in STEM, specifically water-related sectors. Students will create connections with community leaders and educators who can introduce them to career paths and increase their interest in STEM post-high school.


My River Adventures (MRA) Pre-College Camp

Program Type: Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-La Crosse
Grand Water Challenge: Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Vickie Sanchez
Status: Active

The UW-La Crosse MRA camp is a six-day residential camp for incoming 6-12 grade students. Students will use the UW-La Crosse campus as their homebase while they enjoy a week of instructional sessions and visits to rivers in the Driftless region for hands-on fieldwork and lab activities in collaboration with UW- La Crosse faculty, local educators and community members. This camp fosters recruitment, access and aspirations for a career in STEM, specifically water-related sectors. Students will create connections with community leaders and educators who can introduce them to career paths and increase their interest in STEM post-high school.


Partnering to Boost Aquaculture Workforce Development in Wisconsin

Program Type: Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Stevens Point
Grand Water Challenge: Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems
Project Lead(s): Sharon Moen, UW-Madison; Dong-Fang Deng, UWM; Emma Hauser, UW-Stevens Point
Status: Active

“Where do we find young people interested in producing fish for food?” This is one of the most pressing concerns that Wisconsin food-fish farmers expressed in a recent needs assessment conducted by Wisconsin Sea Grant. To address this food security and workforce issue, collaborators from the University of Wisconsin campuses of Madison, Stevens Point and Milwaukee are cooperating with commercial fish farms and high schools, colleges, and universities with existing aquaculture programs to expand training opportunities for students across the state. The opportunities range from farm experiences and skill-building workshops to support for teams engaging in an annual aquaculture competition.


Pilot Project: Development of an In Vivo Method to Assess the Innate Immune Response in Fathead minnow Larvae

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-La Crosse, UW-Madison
Grand Water Challenge: Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Tisha King-Heiden, UW-La Crosse; Gavin Dehnert, UW-Madison
Status: Active

Two undergraduate students will work with faculty from UW-La Crosse and UW-Madison to develop a new bioassay to study the immune response of wild fish. As part of their training, they will job shadow at the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene to gain a deeper understanding of how bioassays are used in the field of environmental toxicology. They will meet with experts from the Wisconsin Department of Health to see how data from these bioassays can be used to inform water quality standards. Finally, they will network at science conferences to learn about job opportunities in the field of environmental toxicology.


Predicting Crop per Drop in Sandy Soils

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management
Project Lead(s): Keith Wojciechowski
Status: Complete

As the world population grows, the demand for water and land from industries and municipalities increases. Farmable land and available water are becoming scarcer. These circumstances pressure farmers to generate higher yields without the ability to increase resources. The goal of this project is for two undergraduate student researchers to learn how to use statistics, mathematics and computer science to help growers manage water resources for growing dry beans in sandy soil types, which are not typically used for growing crops. Students will use mathematics to help growers predict their crop per drop.


Principles of Freshwater Informatics

Program Type: Course Development
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Parkside
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Jessica Orlofske
Status: Complete

Funds will support the development and delivery of a new course that will teach students the background and skills necessary to work with large and disorderly data related to freshwater disciplines. Topics will include sound data management, best practices, common pitfalls and creating useful datasets. Students will use open-source freshwater data and gain hands-on experience while they problem solve as a team. Learning will focus on real-world water-sector examples to help students understand the beyond-the-classroom significance of their studies.


Quantifying the Impact of Spatial and Temporal Variation in Hyporheic Zone Fluxes on Phosphorus Transport and Release in Wisconsin Streams and Rivers

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Green Bay, UW-Madison
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Erin Berns-Herrboldt, UW-Green Bay; Christopher Zahasky, UW-Madison
Status: Active

Riverbed sediments can be an important source of phosphorus to Wisconsin waterways, driving eutrophication and negatively impacting aquatic health, human health, and local economies. There is limited understanding of how groundwater–surface water exchange impacts river sediment phosphorus storage, and this study aims to quantify these processes. Students will characterize phosphorus and subsurface hydrology in stream sediments at two sites in central Wisconsin and conduct batch and column experiments on sediment samples to evaluate which biogeochemical conditions promote storage and release of phosphorus. Project findings are anticipated to inform land, nutrient, and water management decisions.


Summer Research Experience in Freshwater Ecology for Undergraduates

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Stevens Point
Grand Water Challenge: Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use
Project Lead(s): Daniel Isermann
Status: Complete

This project supports the participation of five students in a Research Experience for Undergraduates experience coordinated by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit (WICFRU), which is part of the College of Natural Resources at UW-Stevens Point. The WICFRU provides unique hands-on opportunities for undergraduates to work on applied freshwater research and collaborate with federal scientists, university faculty, graduate students and researchers, along with agency personnel from the Wisconsin and Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and various tribal organizations from the Midwest.


Summer Research Experience Program for Undergraduates in the University of Wisconsin System

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Madison
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Industrial Water Engineering & Technology, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): James P. Hurley
Status: Complete

In summer 2022, 10-12 undergraduate students will receive internships at UW-Madison to work on water research projects. Students will be paired with faculty affiliated with Water@UW-Madison and will work in laboratories and programs on campus. Students will meet regularly throughout the summer, be given opportunities for professional development and present their research at a reception in August. The internships are offered through the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin in conjunction with UW’s Sea Grant and Water Resources Institutes as part of a pilot program that will be expanded to UW campuses statewide in 2023.


Surface and Well Water Field Sampling and Lab Analysis Experience

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW Oshkosh
Grand Water Challenge: Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Greg Kleinheinz
Status: Complete

The Environmental Research and Innovation Center (ERIC) is a certified water testing facility at UW Oshkosh that receives well and surface water samples from citizens, businesses and county agencies. This project provides funding for three students to take part in a specialized water lab analyses training program at the ERIC lab and a summer field experience at the Door County field site. They will learn the basics of many water-related laboratory methods and can work with field groups during the summer of 2021. Projects may include well water sampling throughout the community, beach monitoring and nutrient management studies.


The Cost of Cleanwater: An Efficiency Analysis of Wisconsin’s Water Utilities

Program Type: Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Whitewater
Grand Water Challenge: Water Business & Finance, Water Infrastructure, Water Security, Protection & Resilience
Project Lead(s): Russell Kashian
Status: Active

Students will conduct research through the Institute for Water Business on the efficiency of water utilities and will leverage previous research to identify how costs incurred by water districts in cleaning water leads to inefficiency and increased prices. This research seeks to identify the cost of remediation to provide regulators the information necessary to make informed determinations regarding contaminant assessments. Results will be available in a public report and submitted for peer reviewed publication.


The Dam Analysis and Monitoring Crew

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-River Falls
Grand Water Challenge: Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Infrastructure, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Jill Wasik Coleman
Status: Complete

The Dam Analysis and Monitoring (DAM) Crew is a two-week, summer experience in which undergraduate students will learn about and contribute to a dam removal and river restoration project on the Kinnickinnic River in River Falls. The “Kinni” is a premier trout stream in western Wisconsin. Students will receive hands-on training from river restoration professionals in the region and then apply their technical skills to collect water quality and habitat data that is required in the official project monitoring plan. Two DAM Crew participants will continue the work through part-time, school-year internships to collect data, analyze samples and compile results.


The Impact of Agricultural Runoff on Navigation: A Literature Review

Program Type: Collaborative Research
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Superior
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management
Project Lead(s): Daniel Rust
Status: Complete

Recreational and commercial use of Wisconsin’s ports is a multibillion-dollar industry. Channels, slips and anchorages can become unusable when silt, mud and organic material reduce channel depths or block areas of use. Dredging is expensive and may have significant environmental impacts depending on the material being removed. In collaboration with various stakeholders of Wisconsin’s commercial and recreational ports on Lake Superior, a student researcher will help produce a literature review to identify gaps in research of the costs and environmental impacts of agricultural runoff on recreational and commercial navigation in northern Wisconsin.


The Root Magazine: WATER

Program Type: Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Parkside
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Water Business & Finance, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Lesley Heins Walker
Status: Complete

UW-Parkside will produce an edition of the Root Magazine devoted to water in southeast Wisconsin. This project involves separate departments — art and design, communication, and literatures and languages — and three classes, one from each department, during the academic year of 2022, to produce the content and design of the magazine. Stories and articles produced on local and statewide freshwater issues will be presented in both English and Spanish. This effort represents an amazing opportunity for the arts, humanities and sciences to collaborate.


Timing of Nutrient Release into Surface Water Systems Using Stable Isotopes as an Indicator of Flow Path in an Unconfined Karst Aquifer

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Green Bay
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Kelly Deuerling, Emily Tyner
Status: Complete

Chemicals applied at the surface can easily and quickly enter dolomite aquifer systems and contaminate the groundwater. This project will provide funding for an undergraduate student to work with UW-Green Bay faculty to identify and sample springs that drain from the unconfined dolomite aquifer in Door, Kewaunee and Brown counties and from precipitation. The student will learn to analyze water samples on state-of-the-art field and laboratory instrumentation and to use equilibrium modeling software that will aid him in future classwork at UW-Green Bay and later in the workforce.


Training K12 Educators in Groundwater Science

Program Type: Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Eau Claire
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Sarah Vitale
Status: Active

This project entails a one-day groundwater workshop with K-12 educators in the Eau Claire Area School District, and a hands-on classroom experience for each participating educator with UW-Eau Claire faculty and undergraduate students. The workshop will include exploration of groundwater characteristics using physical flow models, field experience on the UW-Eau Claire campus well field, and a tour of the Eau Claire Municipal Water Treatment Plant. Participants will receive a groundwater model to keep and use in their classroom. The follow-up classroom experience will provide an opportunity for educators to see groundwater models used with their students and build connections to support other Freshwater Collaborative programming.


Undergraduate Student-Faculty Research Engagement on Developing Rapid, Easy-to-Use and Cost-Effective Test Kits for the Detection of E. coli/coliforms in Water

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Taejo Kim
Status: Complete

The coliform group including Escherichia coli has been used extensively as an indicator that other illness-causing bacteria, parasites and viruses are present in water. While the current membrane filtration method for detecting coliforms and E. coli has adequate specificity and sensitivity, it is expensive and time-consuming. Faculty-student researchers will develop a test kit to detect a single cell in a maximum water portion that provides results within 24 hours at 37 C or 48 hours at room temperature and costs about $5 per kit.


Update to Healthy Recreational and Transportation-Focused Courses

Program Type: Course Development
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Superior
Grand Water Challenge: Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Daniel Rust
Status: Active

UW-Superior has offered a course about marine transportation management and a course about port and terminal management for more than two decades. These are the only undergraduate courses in the state of Wisconsin addressing these critical subjects impacting freshwater quality. Collaborating with industry, tribal communities, government agencies and not-for-profits, this project will update these courses to include topics related to sustainability, gentrification, waterfront management, recreational maritime business and the impacts of climate change. Enhancements will help educate tomorrow’s leaders to operate maritime facilities on the state’s lakes and rivers in a more sustainable manner.


UW Oshkosh Comprehensive FCW Capacity Building and Implementation Program

Program Type: Career Development, Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW Oshkosh
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Industrial Water Engineering & Technology, Water Business & Finance, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Greg Kleinheinz
Status: Complete

UW Oshkosh will offer student training opportunities at the Environmental Research and Innovation Center (ERIC), a state-certified laboratory for many water testing parameters as well as a contract R&D laboratory for various community and industry projects. The partnership with the Freshwater Collaborative will allow students from any campus opportunities to work at ERIC field research sites (or take a field course) each summer, which embeds students in communities to study surface, well and groundwater. UW Oshkosh will also offer access to a research and teaching boat on the Lake Winnebago system at no charge to Freshwater Collaborative partners.


UW Oshkosh Comprehensive Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin Training, Community Engagement, Business Enterprise, Research, and Recruitment Program

Program Type: Career Development, Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW Oshkosh, UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Industrial Water Engineering & Technology, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Greg Kleinheinz, UW Oshkosh
Status: Active

UW Oshkosh will offer student training opportunities at the Environmental Research and Innovation Center (ERIC), a state-certified laboratory for many water testing parameters as well as a contract R&D laboratory for various community and industry projects. The partnership with the Freshwater Collaborative allows students from any UW campus opportunities to work at ERIC field research sites (or take a field course) each summer, which embeds students in communities to study surface, well and groundwater. Funding from the Freshwater Collaborative will also allow for an on-campus STEM high school camp in summer 2024 (20 high school students). It will also provide resources for faculty-student research and student-industry projects. Freshwater Collaborative funding will continue to expand opportunities through the UW Oshkosh Freshwater 101 course (BIO/ENG 119) and partial support for a summer field sampling and analysis course open to all UW students. Finally, UW Oshkosh will continue to offer access to a research and teaching boat on the Lake Winnebago system at no charge to Freshwater Collaborative partners.


UW Youth Water Stewards Pilot

Program Type: Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-River Falls
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Tovah Flygare
Status: Complete

The UW Youth Water Stewards Pilot introduces high school youth to water monitoring, data analysis and stewardship through guided hands-on fieldwork and learning opportunities on and near UW-River Falls. The project connects high school youth with university students and faculty and highlights water-related study and job opportunities. Students will also gain a stronger sense of community through collaborative service learning and through sharing results of their research with relevant government and community partners.


UW-Green Bay Pre-College Student Experiences in Freshwater, 2023-2025

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Green Bay
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants
Project Lead(s): Emily Tyner
Status: Active

UW-Green Bay Pre-College Student Experiences in Freshwater is the continuation and expansion of a project that will enhance community-based experiential learning opportunities for pre-college students and teachers around the Green Bay and Lake Michigan watersheds. The project will build a community of freshwater-focused educators and middle and high school students, link to statewide water experts, and engage a diversity of urban to rural communities within the UW-Green Bay region. Intended outcomes include building skills and career-oriented experiences for high school scholars interested in the water sector, recruiting students to UW-Green Bay and UW System water-centric programs, and expanding efforts toward equity, inclusion, and diversity of participants.


UWRF Ecological Restoration Institute

Program Type: Career Development, Collaborative Research, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-River Falls
Grand Water Challenge: Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Holly Dolliver
Status: Active

The Ecological Restoration Institute (ERI) at UW-River Falls provides student trainings/certifications, internships and career development opportunities. The ERI is engaged in a variety of restoration projects that serve as a living laboratory for demonstrating watershed and land management best practices. Trainings and internship experiences ensure graduates are highly skilled and can have an immediate impact in their careers. This project will expand programming to students across the UW System and diversify the ERI’s projects and activities to become a leader in supporting next-generation agricultural water management practices.


Water, Health, and Habitat Interactions: Building Capacity for Water Careers and Education

Program Type: Collaborative Research, Course Development, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Milwaukee, UW-Green Bay, UW-La Crosse, UW-Parkside, UW-River Falls, UW-Whitewater
Grand Water Challenge: Aquaculture, Aquaponics & Water Food Systems, Great Lakes Monitoring & Restoration, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Industrial Water Engineering & Technology, Water Infrastructure, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Water Security, Protection & Resilience, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Tracy Boyer
Status: Active

UW-Milwaukee will lead a collaboration with five UW campuses to implement three intensive hands-on courses that were developed specifically for the Freshwater Collaborative. These summer courses will provide undergraduate students throughout UW System with an affordable opportunity to conduct research and field work on Lake Michigan. These courses also create a nucleus of classes for future planned freshwater certificate offerings.

This project will also expand a UWM field course, based on feedback from industry partners, to make it more accessible to students on other campuses or those working full time. Faculty will also build an intensive series of specialized aquaculture courses that complement workforce development efforts. In addition, UWM will host a daylong field work experience aboard the R/V Neeskay for undergraduates participating in the Freshwater@UW Summer Scholars Program, a statewide Freshwater Collaborative initiative led by UW-Madison that places undergraduates in research programs throughout UW System.

Collaborative Course Offerings Include:

  • Environmental and Health Effects of Water Pollution. This is the hands-on component of a two-part course taught jointly by faculty from UWM, UW-La Crosse and UW-Whitewater.
  • Expedition to Lake Michigan. This hands-on course, taught by UWM and UW-River Falls faculty, focuses on the hydrology and biogeochemistry of Lake Michigan and incorporates a problem-based approaches to solve real problems affecting Lake Michigan.
  • Human Interactions with Lake Michigan Coastal Ecosystems. This four-week course led by UWM, UW-Green Bay and UW-Parkside explores the coast of Lake Michigan and will facilitate a greater understanding of human impacts on its coastal ecosystems.


Western Wisconsin Advanced Freshwater Science Field Course

Program Type: Course Development, Student Experience
Collaborating Institutions: UW-Eau Claire, UW Oshkosh, UW-River Falls, UW-Stout
Grand Water Challenge: Agricultural Water Management, Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Quality Safety & Emerging Contaminants, Watershed Management & Restoration
Project Lead(s): Sarah Vitale, Gregory Kleinheinz, Jill Coleman-Wasik, Keith Gilland
Status: Complete

In this immersive course, undergraduate students enrolled in freshwater science-related majors will learn field and laboratory skills used to assess freshwater science investigations in geology, biology, geography and agriculture. Course content will include the study of watershed hydrogeology, lake and river biology management, water quality, nutrient and bacterial contamination, landscape restoration and community engagement with farmers. Participants will develop skills in field and laboratory data collection and analysis, map and imagery analysis, report writing and communication.


Wisconsin Water-based Sustainable Tourism Development Course

Program Type: Course Development
Collaborating Institutions: UW-La Crosse
Grand Water Challenge: Healthy Recreational & Transportation Water Use, Water Business & Finance
Project Lead(s): Dan Plunkett
Status: Complete

An existing UW-La Crosse hybrid course, “Sustainable Tourism Development,” will be adapted so the course content and culminating experience focus on Wisconsin water-based tourism. A fully online version of the course will be created to make the course accessible to students UW System-wide and to expand collaborative opportunities to other institutions and industry partners throughout Wisconsin. This course will build students’ awareness of water-based tourism career opportunities, incorporate a high-impact experience in which students collaborate with an organization engaging in water-based tourism activities, and provide an opportunity for students to build their networks and find a job or internship opportunity.