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NOAA funding to support UWM water science

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has awarded funding to the School of Freshwater Sciences at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee (UWM) for graduate student fellowships focused on researching the relationship among oceans, the Great Lakes and human health.

NOAA’s Oceans and Human Health Initiative (OHHI) today announced an award of $525,000 for a Graduate Traineeship Program to support six doctoral students – five at UWM and one at UW–Madison. OHHI is dedicated to improving understanding and management of the oceans, coasts and Great Lakes to enhance human health and reduce public health risks. The OHHI program funds three NOAA Centers of Excellence in Michigan, South Carolina and the State of Washington, in addition to the OHHI Traineeship Programs with university partners.

Five other OHHI Traineeship Programs operate across the nation. UWM’s is the sixth, and the only one focused on the Great Lakes.

“This initiative and the student talent it brings to UWM will help us jump start recruitment of graduate students from both inside and outside of Wisconsin to the School of Freshwater Sciences,” says Mark Harris, acting dean.“It will produce the next generation of scientists who can advance the science of oceans and human health, leading to a more informed and effective policy and improved protection of public health.”

The OHHI investigates topics such as marine toxins, chemical pollutants, seafood quality, beach safety and health and pharmaceuticals and bio-agents from aquatic sources.

“Few academic programs have focused primarily on the Great Lakes,” says Rick Goetz, Shaw Senior Scientist at the school’s Great Lakes WATER Institute. “But at UWM, the research is specific to freshwater, including stormwater runoff and fecal pollution, invasive species, water diversion and sustainable water management.”

“Beach closings, harmful alga blooms and drinking water supply concerns are linked to the integrity of the ecosystem and impact human health,” says Sandra McLellan, associate scientist at the WATER Institute. “No single scientific discipline can address these complex concerns. This traineeship contributes to the interdisciplinary and collective efforts needed to solve the major human health problems involving the Great Lakes.”

Creation of the OHHI Traineeship Program at UWM comes as the School of Freshwater Sciences accepts applications for its inaugural class. Enrollment formally begins in the fall. The School of Freshwater Sciences offers an MS program with both a research and professional track, and a Ph.D. program in four areas of research concentration, including Freshwater System Dynamics; Freshwater Technology; Human and Ecosystem Health; and Freshwater Economics, Policy & Management.

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