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Great Lakes research

Wading into research at CMU

Students and faculty spent the year looking for solutions to Great Lakes problems

Contact: ​Jeff Johnston

​Whether they're seated at lab benches on campus or wading through the cold waters of Lake Michigan, Central Michigan University students and faculty engage in research to observe, protect and preserve the Great Lakes region.

"The Great Lakes are one of the largest freshwater resources, so we need to take care of them," said Laura Moore, a CMU graduate student studying contamination and water quality in several of the region's waterways. "We rely on the Great Lakes for so many things, including fisheries, water for businesses, and recreation. Being able to be in that environment and do my research is like a blessing to me."

In 2017, CMU provided opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students from many fields of study to work alongside faculty in a wide variety of hands-on research.

The university also joined a new research cooperative this year focused on finding solutions for problems like algae, pollution and invasive species. The nine member institutions will share a $20 million federal grant to manage sustainability issues in the region.

Meanwhile, the group that has kept CMU a key player in the health of the Great Lakes keeps growing in size and scope. The university's Institute for Great Lakes Research, established in 2010, today boasts 26 faculty members from four departments. 

Here are more highlights of Great Lakes regional research by CMU faculty and students in 2017:

Sending damage down the drain

Biology faculty member Daelyn Woolnough's research showed that everyday cleaning products could be hurting the freshwater mussels that act as natural filters for the Great Lakes.

Monitoring the health of our waterways

When graduate student Laura Moore took samples from regional bodies of water, she found high levels of nitrogen that could cause big problems for local wildlife and area beaches.

Bloody red shrimp on the menu (for trout)

Biology students at the CMU Biological Station on Beaver Island researched the impact of bloody red shrimp and other invasive species on fish populations in the Great Lakes.

The case of the disappearing whitefish

Lake whitefish are an important part of local tourism and native culture, but their population is on the decline. Students and researchers are looking for the reasons juvenile fish don't survive to adulthood. 

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