UW-Platteville receives more than $55,000 from Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin to train next generation of water scientists

Written by Alison Parkins, UW-Platteville and Heidi Jeter, Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin on |

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville will receive $55,373 in support from the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin this year to enhance its water-related academic programs. The funding is part of a statewide initiative, backed by the Wisconsin State Legislature and Gov. Tony Evers, to tackle 10 grand water challenges and support curriculum development, undergraduate research opportunities, career development and field training experiences for students interested in studying water-related fields at the 13 UW Schools. 

Funding includes support for the following projects at UW-Platteville:

  • Collaborative Undergraduate Course on Managing the Mississippi River: Led by Dr. Austin Polebitski, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, this new, interdisciplinary course—to be offered at both UW-Platteville and UW-La Crosse—will provide multiple, transformative student experiences and a foundation for a system-wide freshwater course offering.
  • Collaborating to Protect and Monitor Streams in an Agricultural Landscape: Led by Dr. Kristopher Wright, professor of biology, in collaboration with Dr. Rebecca Doyle-Morin, professor of biology, this project is a cooperative effort among faculty advisors, undergraduate students, the Harry and Laura Nohr Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to monitor and assist in the management of stream communities and habitats in agriculture-based watersheds of Southwest Wisconsin.

“Solving real-world problems is never easy and making headway on them requires collaboration; it is collaboration which is at the heart of the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin,” said UW-Platteville Office of Research and Sponsored Programs Director and Freshwater Collaborative Steering Committee member Will Hoyer. “Both of these supported projects involve important partnerships that will benefit our students, partners and the state.”

Overall, the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin 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. Grant descriptions are available at freshwater.wisconsin.edu.

“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 State Legislature and Gov. 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. 

About the Freshwater Collaborative
The Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin is a partnership of Wisconsin’s 13 public universities, connecting with industry partners, local communities, policymakers and advocacy groups.​ Its mission is to establish Wisconsin as a world leader in freshwater science, technology, entrepreneurship and economic growth. The Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin is training the next generation of scientists to solve global water resource problems through academic programs, collaborative research and career development across the UW System. Learn more at freshwater.wisconsin.edu.