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Minnesota Sea Grant: On the Edge

Director Steve Bortone

At Minnesota Sea Grant, we are on the edge. "Edge of what?" you ask. Well not edge as in "Postcards From the Edge" but edge as in cutting edge. More clearly, we are at the forefront of scientific research - using the latest and best technology to answer difficult environmental questions.

When you think of the sea, "high tech" probably does not come to mind. At Minnesota Sea Grant, however, high tech is standard vocabulary. That's because solving problems is foremost among our tasks. Since most of the easy problems have been solved, that leaves the difficult ones that often require innovation. We try to solve these problems by using the highest quality aquatic science available, which in the 21st century, includes advanced technology.

Minnesota universities have some of the world’s top scientists who operate at the cutting edge of their disciplines, including microbiology, oceanography, and analytical chemistry.

The research projects listed as "currently funded" on our Web site are all being conducted with state-of-the-art equipment. Several demonstrate our commitment to advanced technology.

One, led by Jay Austin at the University of Minnesota Duluth, brings a high-tech circulation model to a place where non-experts can use it to more fully understand Lake Superior and other major aquatic systems. Once Austin and his team are done, even high school students will be able to use a tool formerly available only to a handful of specialized scientists. They will be able to ask "what if?" questions regarding the movement of water in Lake Superior under futuristic situations (e.g., extra high winds co-occurring with global warming). This is way cool … I mean way hot!

Another notable project is by Thomas Hoye of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. It's based on research previously funded by Sea Grant identifying chemicals (pheromones) that could be used to attract sea lampreys. Currently, production of this attractant is extraordinarily expensive. Hoye's project will develop a process to synthesize the attractant at a lower cost. A cheaper, more readily available sea lamprey attractant, will allow fisheries scientists to lure more lampreys into traps, aiding control efforts.

At Minnesota Sea Grant, we must dream big if we are to solve big problems. But to realize big dreams, we need to give the state's brightest scientists opportunities to tap into advanced technologies.

Keep reading these pages. Future newsletters will highlight more of the latest technology and will feature scientists operating on the edge … the cutting edge, that is.

Steve Bortone signature

Steve Bortone
Minnesota Sea Grant

By Steve Bortone
August 2007

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