Our faculty research everything from aquaculture to emerging contaminants to ecosystem health. 

Our research teams include scientists, economists and legal experts who are advancing fundamental and strategic science and training the next generation of freshwater professionals to inform policy, improve management, and promote the health and sustainability of freshwater systems worldwide. They are internationally known for their work in areas such as freshwater contaminants, biological pollutants, fisheries, invasive species, aquaculture, observation technology, weather prediction and water policy.

Investment in our research includes funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the state of Wisconsin and local government, as well as corporate partners, foundations and private donors.

Our researchers and students collaborate with on-site partners, and our building houses offices for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Geological Survey, Wisconsin Sea Grant, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, Southeast Wisconsin Watershed Trust, Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin and Milwaukee’s Harbor District.

9On-site governmental and nonprofit collaborators

We’re committed to advancing key research priorities

Explore freshwater systems and develop methods for their preservation and management. Study the impacts of climate change, human activity, and invasive species on the Great Lakes and freshwater ecosystems worldwide. Improve water safety through cutting-edge research. Track the presence and sources of pathogens and determine the impacts of contaminants on human and ecosystem health. Form collaborations among scientists, engineers, and industry to develop cutting-edge sensor, genomic, robotic and aquaculture technologies.

Manage, replace and restore the Great Lakes’ commercial and recreational fisheries. Uncover new techniques in fisheries management and develop innovative food technologies to spawn a new urban aquaculture industry. Link science to action and develop transformational policies on topics including transboundary water issues, dispute resolution and adaptive environmental management. Drive new technologies in water research and management. Generate strong policy from great science.

Water Research Impact

  • WUWM Features McLellan’s Upcoming Fulbright Research in Australia
    How do bacteria affect the infrastructure of sewer systems? Professor Sandra McLellan has been studying this issue for a number of years, and now she will travel halfway around the world to gain insight into how to build better cities. For the next six months, she'll be studying bacteria in Australian sewer systems thanks to … Read more
  • Professor Receives Dept. of Energy Funding to Improve Thunderstorm Predictions
    Climate-fueled weather events, such as hurricanes, fires and drought, are becoming more common, and better tools are needed to understand and predict changing weather patterns. To better understand the Earth’s atmosphere and combat climate change, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced $14 million in funding for 21 projects aimed at improving climate change … Read more
  • Scientists Look at the Guts of Cities
    Often extensive but unseen, sewer systems collect and transport wastewater in cities. In doing so, they prevent the rapid spread of diseases. Studying the microorganisms living among the vast network of pipes beneath a city can tell us a great deal about the health of its inhabitants. In addition, a growing number of studies indicate … Read more