Grand Valley's Annis Water Resources Institute enters partnership with MSU to address water challenges

The Lake Michigan Center and the Annis Field Station from across an inlet in Muskegon Lake on a clear day. The buildings are reflected in the water.
The Lake Michigan Center and the Annis Field Station from across an inlet in Muskegon Lake.
Image credit - Bernadine Carey-Tucker

Grand Valley State University's Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI) has formalized a partnership with Michigan State University's Institute of Water Research (IWR) to work together on water-related issues. 

Leaders from the two institutions have met to discuss potential collaborations, and a memorandum of understanding has been signed.

AWRI, which sits on Muskegon Lake, is a part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at GVSU and supports research, education and outreach aimed at preserving freshwater resources.

The institute is led by Alan Steinman, the Allen and Helen Hunting director of the AWRI. Its research program explores aquatic ecology, toxicology, ecosystem restoration and other water quality projects. Additionally, the Information Services Center at the AWRI uses geographic information system data analysis to inform natural resources management decisions.

Aboard two research vessels on Muskegon Lake, AWRI scientists and instructors lead an education and outreach program. They teach K-12 and college students, policymakers, educators and community groups about a variety of water-related topics.

“The AWRI and MSU have a long-standing relationship that has been based largely on collaborations between individual investigators,” Steinman said. “While these collaborations have generated many positive outcomes, the time is ripe to formalize our partnership through this MOU to facilitate broader, stronger and forward-thinking relationships to address the water challenges facing Michigan and the Great Lakes region. I am very excited about this partnership with MSU and the synergies it will bring to our respective institutions.”

MSU has researchers and outreach specialists in a variety of departments studying water, including but not limited to fisheries and wildlife, biosystems and agricultural engineering, criminal justice, entomology and geography.

Since the 1964 Water Resources Research Act was signed by President Lyndon Johnson, which created 54 water institutes around the country, MSU has been home to the Institute of Water Research (IWR). The director of IWR, Darrell Donahue, who is also the chair of the MSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, is leading the MSU coalition working with AWRI.

Donahue has been seeking collaborations with organizations that have complementary research to MSU. He believes this could open the door to applying for funding for long-term, large-scale projects. Scientists from Grand Valley and MSU are meeting on an ongoing basis to discuss partnership opportunities.

“Working with the AWRI is an honor,” Donahue said. “Alan (Steinman) has done a great job building the program. They have a world-class facility on Muskegon Lake near Lake Michigan and renowned faculty doing amazing work. Combining our resources and expertise, we can tackle a broader range of water issues and seek greater funding opportunities, which benefits both institutions.”

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