Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin awards $3.4 million to UW System water programs

The fountain on the UWM campus.
The fountain on the UWM campus. Jake Hill Photography

Last updated on March 29th, 2022 at 02:29 pm

The Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin, a Milwaukee-based initiative designed to support water-related academic programs at University of Wisconsin System schools, announced it is allocating $3.42 million in funding to UW’s 13 campuses.

The funding will provide 42 grants to support water science programs, internship opportunities and hands-on field and research experiences, according to the Collaborative’s announcement Tuesday. Of that total, $777,277 will be directed to UW-Milwaukee programs.

“This support will help us strengthen our academic offerings at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, prepare a skilled workforce, and provide the knowledge needed for difficult water policy decision-making in the not-so-distant the future,” said Rebecca Klaper, vice dean of the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences.

The funding is part of a statewide initiative 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 all 13 UW Schools. Current research is focused on what have been identified as the top two water challenges facing the state: agricultural water management and water quality safety/emerging contaminants.

“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.”

The Freshwater Collaborative launched in 2019 with $670,000 in startup funding provided by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and $1.4 million in UW System funding. UW-Milwaukee was appointed as its leader.

In 2021, the Wisconsin State Legislature and Gov. Evers approved $5 million in the current biennial budget for the collaborative.

UW System leaders have said it is the “nation’s most significant, integrated, multi-institutional higher education program serving the freshwater economy.” One of its chief goals is to fill the global and local demand for a water-focused workforce and solidify the state’s world leadership in freshwater science.

UWM’s allocation of funding will support a statewide internship program being developed by UWM and UW-Madison. The funding will also help the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences expand the hands-on opportunities available to students who enroll in its recently launched bachelor’s degree program.

UWM also received support for the interdisciplinary UW Water Policy Network, which was established last year.

A full list of funded projects is available here.

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