AWRI researcher honored for Lake Michigan outreach efforts

Janet Vail aboard the W.G. Jackson research vessel, berthed at AWRI in Muskegon.
Janet Vail aboard the W.G. Jackson research vessel, berthed at AWRI in Muskegon.

Janet Vail, associate research scientist at Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resources Institute in Muskegon, will be given the prestigious 2013 Jack Vallentyne Award by the International Association for Great Lakes Research.

Vail, who has worked for AWRI since 1990, is being recognized for her efforts to inform and educate the public and policymakers on Great Lakes issues, along with raising awareness and support for Great Lakes protection and restoration. 

As a researcher at AWRI, Vail handles several tasks, including the “Making Lake Michigan Great Tours” that she has led on AWRI research vessels since 1998. Vail also organizes ongoing education programs, and organized three State of Lake Michigan conferences. She is the co-chair of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Lake Michigan Forum, which serves as a link between the governmental agencies involved in Lake Michigan’s health and the stakeholders who are affected by the well-being of the lake. 

Vail will receive the 2013 Jack Vallentyne award at the IAGLR annual conference at Purdue University in June. She will also present a paper, “Coordinated On-board Education and Outreach Project,” which will focus on vessel-based outreach that AWRI has been doing in association with the Inland Seas Education Association, BaySail, and Michigan Sea Grant. The project has been funded by the EPA through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. 

Alan Steinman, director of the Annis Water Resources Institute, said he’s proud of Vail’s work on behalf of the institute. “Dr. Vail is an incredibly hard working, self-motivated, talented, and motivational educator, whose professional talents are complemented by a winning personality and collaborative spirit,” Steinman said, “She has made a positive impact in the lives of literally tens of thousands of students and adults in the Great Lakes.”

The Vallentyne award holds meaning for AWRI — Dr. Jack Vallentyne (aka Johnny Biosphere) was featured at AWRI’s Grand River Workshop at Grand Valley’s Eberhard Center in 1992. 

For more information on AWRI or Vail’s work, visit