Funding from Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin helps UWM expand training

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will receive $777,277 from the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin this year to enhance its water-related academic programs designed to help students interested in water-related fields at the 13 UW System universities.

Among the projects funded are a statewide internship program being developed by UWM and UW-Madison. UWM also will lead collaborative policy research for the interdisciplinary UW Water Policy Network, established last year. The funding will also help the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences expand the hands-on opportunities available to students who enroll in its recently launched bachelor’s degree program.

“This support will help us strengthen our academic offerings at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, prepare a skilled workforce, and provide the knowledge needed for difficult water policy decision-making in the not-so-distant the future,” said Rebecca Klaper, vice dean of the School of Freshwater Sciences.

The funding is part of a statewide initiative, backed by the Wisconsin Legislature and Gov. Tony Evers, to tackle 10 grand water challenges and support curriculum development, undergraduate research opportunities, career development and field training experiences.

Altogether, the Collaborative will support 42 grants to further develop UW System-wide water science programs, internships and research opportunities. High school and undergraduate students will have opportunities to participate in hands-on field and research experiences with faculty throughout the state, allowing them to develop a diverse range of skills.

The Collaborative is also partnering with industry, nonprofits and community organizations to increase career development opportunities for students.

“Water is one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy,” said Marissa Jablonski, executive director for the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin. “With these funds, the 13 UW universities can expand training opportunities for students and prepare them to meet the needs of Wisconsin’s workforce and address our state’s biggest water challenges.”

Wisconsin has abundant water resources; however, factors such as invasive species, pollution and climate change could significantly impact water safety and economic growth. The State of Wisconsin and the Freshwater Collaborative have identified 10 grand water challenges facing the state and are currently focusing research efforts on the top two: agricultural water management and water quality safety/emerging contaminants.

Startup funding for the Freshwater Collaborative was provided in 2019 by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the UW System. In July 2021, the Wisconsin Legislature and Evers approved $5 million in the current biennial budget to expand the Collaboration’s ability to train water professionals and establish Wisconsin as a leader in water-related science and economic growth.

Grant descriptions are available here.

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