Current Projects

The following projects have been selected to receive support from Michigan Sea Grant. Do you have an idea for a project? Send suggestions to Research Program Director Catherine Riseng at criseng@umich.edu. Follow Michigan Sea Grant on social media or join our mailing list for details about upcoming requests for proposals.

2020-2022

Anishinaabe-Gikendaasowin in integrated assessment research in the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community for stewardship and governance partnerships

Michigan’s tribal communities hold a wealth of environmental knowledge. In the Ojibwe language, Anishinaabe refers to Indigenous Ojibwe people, and gikendaasowin is defined as “knowledge” or “intelligence.” Click the links to hear the words pronounced as part of the Ojibwe People’s Dictionary.

Valoree Gagnon, director of university-Indigenous partnerships at Michigan Technological University, will work with tribal groups to synthesize, honor, and spread Indigenous community knowledge about natural resources and environmental science. The goal of this project is to help integrate Indigenous knowledge into stewardship, governance, and research for natural resources in the Great Lakes region.

Lead principal investigator: Valoree Gagnon, Michigan Technological University

Project overview (PDF)

Updating predator-prey stocking models and strategies in Lake Michigan

As natural resource managers reassess the way they stock trout and salmon species in Lake Michigan, Assistant Professor Kelly Robinson from Michigan State University will update models that forecast salmonine fish populations while incorporating benefits, risks, and tradeoffs of different stocking strategies. Lake Michigan’s fishery stakeholders will be part of the decision-making process.

Lead principal investigator: Kelly Robinson, Michigan State University

Project Overview (PDF)

Identifying factors that affect toxicity in Lake Erie’s harmful algal blooms

Gregory Dick, an associate professor at the University of Michigan, will develop models to help determine why some strains of harmful algal blooms are more toxic to humans and animals than others. This project aims to enhance the ability to forecast algal bloom toxicity and help guide policies to prevent toxic blooms.

Lead principal investigator: Gregory Dick, University of Michigan

Project overview (PDF)

Developing a strategy for tracing septic field contamination in the Saginaw Bay watershed

Aging septic systems in the Saginaw Bay watershed can leak into groundwater and surface waters, contributing to issues like beach closures and algae blooms in Saginaw Bay. Matthew Schrenk, an assistant professor at Michigan State University will partner with state and local agencies to develop a system of microbial and geochemical tracking strategies that could identify septic system leaks. This could be instrumental in helping local and state agencies restore the water quality and ecosystem health of the Saginaw Bay watershed.

Lead principal investigator: Matthew Schrenk, Michigan State University

Project overview (PDF)

An integrated approach for understanding and managing Lake Michigan’s shifting shorelines

Managing Lake Michigan’s shorelines requires an understanding of physical, biological, and social factors, especially as climate change
is influencing weather patterns. A diverse regional research team including investigators from universities in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana aims to foster resilient coastal communities around Lake Michigan by tracking the movement of sediment along the shoreline, assessing attitudes about lakeside development and protection, and devising a framework for empathetic decision-making about coastal resources. This project is jointly funded by Michigan Sea Grant, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, and Wisconsin Sea Grant.

Lead principal investigators:

Guy Meadows, Michigan Technological University
Chin Wu, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Cary Troy, Purdue University

Project overview (PDF)

The effects of nutrient loading on nutrient limitation in Great Lakes coastal ecosystems

Graduate Fellow Erin Eberhard at Michigan Technological University will collaborate with Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to investigate how nutrients move through watersheds to coastal ecosystems where wetlands, streams, and lakes meet. This project will provide key understanding of nitrogen cycling in Great Lakes coastalregions. 

Graduate student fellow: Erin Eberhard, Michigan Technological University

Project overview (PDF)

Investigating competition and overlap between different types of Lake Superior lake trout

Graduate Fellow Will Otte at Northern Michigan University will work with U.S. Geological Survey research staff to look for overlapping habitat and dietary needs among several types of lake trout in Lake Superior. This research will help natural resources professionals understand and manage trends in lake trout populations.

Graduate student fellow: Will Otte, Northern Michigan University

Project overview (PDF)

2018-2020

Cladophora, mussels, and the nearshore phosphorus shunt in Lake Michigan

Since invading the Great Lakes, filter-feeding zebra and quagga mussels have increased water clarity in Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and Lake Ontario. This has boosted the growth of bottom-dwelling filamentous algae like Cladophora, which washes ashore in stringy green mats to foul beaches and harbor harmful bacteria. The invading mussels also recycle phosphorus — a nutrient that feeds algal growth — through their feces. Pengfei Xue, an assistant professor in the Michigan Technological University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, will lead a team applying mathematical models to untangle the web of processes supplying nutrition to Cladophora at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Lead principal investigator: Pengfei Xue, Michigan Technological University

Project overview (PDF)