Summer Research Scholars Launch Freshwater@UW Activities

Freshwater@UW Summer Research Scholars arrived at UW-Madison on May 28 for orientation before heading off to conduct research under the mentorship of faculty, staff and graduate students. The 35 undergraduates hailed from 27 universities in Wisconsin and around the country. 

Students learned about water research in Wisconsin. They also spent time together, building a strong and supportive network of water research peers.

Summer research scholars on the R/V Neeskay.
Summer research scholars on the R/V Neeskay.

The week kicked off with a speaker’s event. Who better to introduce them to lake and river ecology than Dr. Grace Wilkinson, UW-Madison’s Center for Limnology, and Dr. Kathi Jo Jankowski, USGS? They learned about the Freshwater Collaborative and their place in the bigger picture of water research from Dr. Marissa Jablonski and Dr. Alison Mikulyuk.

Later, the students took a water-themed tour of the Chazen Art Museum. They also learned about the First Nations of Wisconsin during the First Nations Cultural Landscape Tour. The tour provided a place-based introduction into the 14,000+ years of human history along the shores of Lake Mendota.

Summer research scholars conducted several lab activities.
Summer research scholars conducted several lab activities.

The next day was all about watersheds (everything flows downstream!). Activities involved four locations in the Madison area that highlight challenges facing the Yahara Watershed. A visit to Dane County Discovery Farm taught them about soil health and farmer-led councils. They helped out with invasive species control in the Lakeshore Reserve on campus. At a “sand boil” at Franklin Springs, undergraduates did sampling and scope work from the Center for Limnology’s Lake Mendota dock.

Students capped off orientation week with a more hands-on activities at the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences. Activities included kayaking in the Milwaukee Harbor, lab work in the fish labs, and a trip on the R/V Neeskay.

Kayaking in the Milwaukee Harbor
Kayaking in the Milwaukee Harbor was a big hit.

The students will present their research on Aug. 1 at the Summer Research Symposium at UW-Madison. Funding for the Freshwater@UW Summer Research Opportunities Program is provided by the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Sea Grant, the UW Water Resources Institute, Water@UW-Madison, and the UW-Madison graduate school.

Written by Heidi Jeter, Freshwater Collaborative, and Alison Mikulyuk, Water@UW-Madison.

Undergrads Explore Freshwater Science in Western Wisconsin

Thirteen undergraduates from UW-Eau Claire, UW-River Falls, UW-Stout, and UW-Milwaukee took part in this year’s Freshwater Science Field Studies in Western Wisconsin course. Undergraduates spent two weeks exploring watersheds, contamination and restoration, and groundwater and surface waters throughout western Wisconsin.

Instructors from UW-Eau Claire, UW-River Falls, UW-Stout, and UW Oshkosh taught students field and laboratory skills needed to conduct freshwater research. During the two-week advanced course, students conduct a wide variety of applicable fieldwork to prepare them for the freshwater science workforce.

Highlights this year included:

  • visiting a boiling spring in River Falls
  • measuring water quality impacts from the impoundments on the Kinnickinnic River
  • evaluating groundwater flow conditions on the UW-Eau Claire campus

The data collected in Gilbert Creek in Menomonie will contribute to the Water Action Volunteers (WAV) stream monitoring program, a partnership between the WDNR and the UW–Madison Division of Extension that empowers volunteers to gather and share data to help natural resource managers in Wisconsin make decisions.