School of Freshwater sciences building

Advancing fundamental science and training the next generation of freshwater sciences and atmospheric science professionals.

We are driven to make a difference for our waters and our atmosphere because we care about them, the communities they’re in and the people who interact with them.  

The School of Freshwater Sciences has a rich history of scientific discovery that has evolved over decades. It offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in freshwater sciences and atmospheric science.

Originally founded in 1966 as the Center for Great Lakes Studies on UWM’s main campus, it moved to the Great Lakes Research Facility in the Milwaukee Harbor District in 1973. Since then, the school’s researchers have studied the Great Lakes and other large freshwater systems around the world, as well as inland waters, urban river systems, groundwater and more. Our research focus is on freshwater system dynamics, human and ecosystem health, the application of water technology to research questions, water policy and economics, and weather and climate science.

The pioneering graduate program began in 2009, evolving from decades of cutting-edge research conducted by UWM faculty at the Center for Great Lakes Studies and the Great Lakes WATER Institute. The undergraduate program launched in 2021 to expand our interdisciplinary approach and train students to meet the growing demand for water science professionals. In 2022 the school expanded to include atmospheric sciences to better integrate the study of freshwater, weather and climate.

Our work informs policy, improves water management, and promotes the health and sustainability of freshwater systems worldwide.

Milwaukee skyline from the waterThe nation’s only school dedicated to freshwater and climate sciences
0Feet to Lake Michigan
4Research Vessels

Vision and Mission

Exploration in service to freshwater sciences and society

Advancing knowledge of freshwater systems and their management through transdisciplinary research; educating future scientists, technicians, teachers, policy specialists and the public; and growing appreciation of natural and constructed aquatic systems.

UWM School of Freshwater Sciences divers jumping into lake

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Statement of Commitment

The School of Freshwater Sciences is committed to creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive community where all identities, backgrounds and perspectives are celebrated, valued, and respected. We want to ensure everyone in our program has an enjoyable and fulfilling experience, and to nurture a secure and supportive environment where each person can reach their full potential. We are dedicated to a harassment-free and non-discriminatory experience for everyone, regardless of gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, race, age and/or religion, and are committed to promoting equality and compassion in our courses and research.

Complaints and Reporting Policies

The School of Freshwater Sciences is committed to supporting students who experience micro-aggressions, harassment, discrimination and/or overt racism or sexism by providing clear complaints and reporting policies. In general, we refer students to the university-wide reporting policies for discrimination. UWM’s full discriminatory conduct policy. Complaints can be made in-person at UWM’s Office of Equity/Diversity Services or via phone/email. Anonymous reports are permitted, and additional resources available to students include counseling services, student centers, and other university resources.


School of Freshwater Sciences
Great Lakes Research Facility
600 E. Greenfield Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53204

Phone: 414-382-1700
Fax: 414-382-1705

Getting to the School of Freshwater Sciences

From I-43S / I-94E

  • Exit at Lapham Boulevard/Mitchell Street (Exit 312A)
  • Turn left (east) onto W Lapham Boulevard
  • Turn left (north) onto S 1st Street
  • Turn right (east) onto E Greenfield Avenue
  • SFS is located at the far end of the street, on the left

From I-43N / I-94W

  • Exit at Lapham Boulevard/Greenfield Avenue (Exit 312A)
  • Turn right (east) onto W Lapham Boulevard
  • Turn left (north) onto S 1st Street
  • Turn right (east) onto E Greenfield Avenue
  • SFS is located at the far end of the street, on the left


  • Turn left from 1st Street onto Greenfield Avenue. Proceed under the railroad overpass and over the tracks.
  • Street parking is available on Greenfield Avenue.
  • Additional parking is available in the gravel lot west of the building.
  • The main entrance is located on the building’s south side along Greenfield Avenue. If parking in the gravel lot you may enter at the west entrance.

By city bus

  • From UWM main campus:
    • take the southbound Green Line from a bus stop on Oakland Avenue.
    • Get off the bus at stop S1 & Greenfield.
    • Walk east on Greenfield Avenue, under the bridge, to the end of the road.
  • UWM students, make sure to use your U-PASS!

By bike

  • From UWM main campus:
    • The Oak Leaf Trail can be taken most of the way, with some street biking.
    • Use a bike route finder as a guide.
  • Bike racks are available in front of the Great Lakes Research Facility.

For more detailed information on biking, city bus routes, and the U-PASS for UWM students, visit the Traveling to SFS page on our website.