Research Approach

Michigan Sea Grant supports three types of innovative research to address important social and ecological issues facing the Great Lakes:

  • Integrated assessment: Research that focuses on stakeholder engagement and synthesis of existing data to address difficult questions. 
  • Core research: Traditional data-driven research on issues currently affecting the Great Lakes ecosystem. 
  • Fellowships: Graduate student (M.S. or Ph.D.) research fellowships for one or two years.

Support for research is available to all qualified, college- and university-based researchers in Michigan. Every two years, Michigan Sea Grant solicits proposals for projects relevant to our strategic plan. Projects are selected for funding based on rigorous peer-review and ranking by a panel of independent scientific and technical experts. Funded researchers are invited to collaborate with Michigan Sea Grant Extension educators and communicators to assist with public outreach and research communications.

Integrated Assessment

Rather than running additional experiments, an integrated assessment (IA) research team summarizes what is known and offers an assessment of how the science could be interpreted and used. The team focuses on a complex environmental issue and then conducts a comprehensive analysis of natural and social scientific data and information.

The IA process is different from traditional research because researchers work closely with stakeholders to examine an issue from many perspectives, identify challenges, and evaluate feasible solutions. The aim is to create results that are current, trusted, accessible, and useful.

For more information about the Integrated Assessment theory and approach, see: Integrated Assessments

Core Research

Core research projects investigate issues that affect the Great Lakes ecosystem. University-based researchers are encouraged to submit research projects that fulfill critical research needs for the Great Lakes and coastal ecosystems — and that fit within the focus areas of the Michigan Sea Grant Strategic Plan. Relevant social science research proposals will also be considered. Michigan Sea Grant also seeks to bring together innovative research teams from Michigan universities, and where possible, leverage active research programs conducted by federal and state agencies.

Graduate Student Research Fellowships

Michigan Sea Grant facilitates a number of fellowship opportunities to support the next generation of Great Lakes leaders. In 2016, Michigan Sea Grant introduced the Michigan Sea Grant Graduate Student Research Fellowship to support graduate students (M.S. or Ph.D.) enrolled at Michigan universities for one or two years. Students work with an academic adviser and an agency sponsor to conduct a research project that integrates with ongoing research at federal, state, and tribal agencies to advance understanding of important Great Lakes issues.

For more information on fellowships, see: Michigan Sea Grant Graduate Student Fellowship

Research Cycle

Request for Proposal process chart