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Graduate Research Advances Lake Superior Science

October 22, 2003

The University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program is providing more than $527,000 over the next two years to fund research by graduate students. The ten students are investigating subjects related to Lake Superior and Minnesota’s inland lakes under the supervision of University of Minnesota faculty.

The graduate funding is over and above the $678,500 that Sea Grant awarded for research projects last March. The projects employing the graduate students involve such topics as lake trout populations and habitats, water pollution, new water monitoring technologies, aquatic invasive species, and Lake Superior’s ecosystem.

Paige Novak, assistant professor in the University of Minnesota Department of Civil Engineering and recipient of Sea Grant research monies, is supporting two graduate students with funding associated with her grant.

“Through my association with Sea Grant, I had the funds and flexibility to hire some of the country’s best graduate students in science,” said Novak. “Two master’s degree candidates, who came to the graduate program with partial fellowships from other sources, are now conducting laboratory investigations that will contribute to our understanding of how microorganisms might accelerate the breakdown of PCBs in Great Lakes.”

One of Sea Grant’s new graduate research assistants came from the Black Forest area of Germany in his pursuit of a master’s degree. Winfried Ksoll is studying water resources science at the University of Minnesota Duluth and investigating whether the fecal indicator, E. coli, might survive and possibly grow in aquatic environments like the sediments of Lake Superior.

“I’m very interested in what happens to a resource like water as it gets recycled back into a system,” said Ksoll. “I was involved in resource recycling research in Germany and am fortunate to be able to continue my studies in Minnesota.”

Aside from cutting-edge research, Sea Grant-supported graduates are expected to communicate the importance of their work to the public. This requirement emphasizes the importance of making science relevant and accessible.

Minnesota Sea Grant is part of a network of 30 Sea Grant College Programs spanning coastal states throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. To learn more about Sea Grant, access www.seagrant.umn.edu or call (218) 726-8106.


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