We are a launchpad for Freshwater Research, the foundation and moving force to Milwaukee’s world-recognition as a Freshwater Hub. The School of Freshwater Sciences provides the talent, tools, and techniques needed to inform government policies, business initiatives, community non-profits, and environmental agencies. Our students and faculty are not only a dynamic resource for Milwaukee, but are also the ingenuity for our viable urban interface with freshwater nationally and internationally.

Freshwater is fundamental to the prosperity of our communities. Clean freshwater systems lead to a better environment, economy, and quality of life. Milwaukee’s citizens interact directly and indirectly with their Freshwater river systems and lake on a daily basis. We rely on our fresh-tasting drinking water, the riverside walkways of our downtown economic hub, and free-access recreational beaches for a higher quality of life.

The School of Freshwater Sciences’ students, research faculty, and staff generate cutting-edge research that improves the lives of Milwaukeeans and can impact urban dwellers across the nation. As soon as a student enters one of our three programs, they begin work in a lab or in the community, putting their talent and time into research with tangible impacts.

Our local, national, and international collaborators spread the impact of our research. Beginning with young people in the Milwaukee Public schools and other state school districts, we teach the integrated nature of Freshwater and our Future. For our graduate students, our designed community integration allows their research to influence policy-change, community action, the industry innovation. Whether assisting local and national companies or informing state and national water policy, our student and faculty research has massive parameters.


The Knowledge is Here at the School of Freshwater Sciences. We’re the home of 21 research laboratories, one of which is the first DNA sequencing lab in the country to be dedicated to Freshwater issues. Our combinations of lab capabilities, from microbiology and genomics to aquaculture and groundwater, result in revolutionary research collaborations. Access to key collaborators including University of Wisconsin Sea Grant, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Lake Guardian vessel, requires only a stroll through our facility.

Our research propels. A study by professor Sandra McLellan and assistant professor Ryan Newton showed that microbial communities in raw sewage could accurately predict obesity rates in North American cities. The results may have far reaching implications for studying population health. UWM scientist Jim Waples’s found a new way to assign an age to water at any point in its distribution. What’s the impact for Milwaukee’s citizens? These models could help water utility managers find alternative water flow routes to reduce the time your next glass of water spends in pipes.


It’s the largest academic research institution for the Great Lakes. The pioneering Graduate Program began in 2010, developing out of decades of cutting edge research of UWM faculty at the Center for Great Lakes Studies and the Great Lakes WATER Institute. The School’s expertise has advanced Milwaukee’s reputation as a Freshwater hub. You’ll find our researchers at work at sea, in the field, and in the lab from the Great Lakes of North America to the Great Lakes of Africa.

It’s one-of-a-kind. We study on the edge of the largest freshwater system on the Earth’s surface, with our state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities perched on Milwaukee’s inner harbor. To top that unique asset, we house the only year round research vessel, the Neeskay, and dock the EPA’s largest Freshwater research vessel, the Lake Guardian. With our fleet, we use Lake Michigan as a living laboratory.

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