The job description for each of the Principal Investigators (PIs) at the Annis Water Resources Institute includes research, teaching, and service. Our current research activities, as usual, are varied. Carl Ruetz and his students are busy examining the population status of lake sturgeon in the lower Muskegon River. Rick Rediske and his lab are looking at toxigens and pathogens associated with filamentous algae (muck) in different parts of Michigan. Bopi Biddanda and his lab continue their fascinating work on unique biological communities associated with sinkholes in Lake Huron. John Koches and his staff in AWRI's Information Services Center are working on watershed management plans in west Michigan, sustainability initiatives in Muskegon, and the role of green infrastructure in the region. Ryan Thum and his students are examining the genetic and ecological bases for aquatic invasive species of plants and fish. Al Steinman and his lab are examining the ecological effects of stormwater in the region. On average, AWRI PIs and staff receive $1.5 to 2 million dollars per year in grants and contracts, to conduct their research and educational activities. This research advances the science in water resources but also provides critical educational and training opportunities in the field and lab for undergraduate and graduate students.
The PIs also engage in classroom education as part of their workload. This semester, for example, we are teaching a number of undergraduate and graduate classes in Allendale, including Great Lakes and Other Water Resources (Rediske), Fisheries Biology (Ruetz), Ecosystem Biogeochemistry (Biddanda), and Integrated Life Science for K-8 Teachers (Janet Vail). These classes allow the PIs to integrate their research findings into the course curriculum, ensuring that GVSU students are being exposed to the most recent scientific findings available and keeping them current with the critical water resource issues facing both Michigan and the Great Lakes. Clearly, the educational experience of the students in these classes is greatly enhanced when they receive their scientific information directly from the source that generates it. Next month, we'll focus on the outreach and service activities of AWRI.