Graham Sustainability Institute

Stream Restoration for Graduate Students

Photo courtesy of Huron River Watershed Council


  • Aline Cotel, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Catherine Riseng, School of Natural Resources and Environment
  • Larissa Sano, School of Natural Resources and Environment

Project Summary

Stream ecosystems are dynamic, characterized by changing physical, geomorphological, chemical, and biological conditions, and they generate critical services for people, by providing fresh drinking water, a source of food, flood control, and recreational and cultural value. Stream systems have undergone dramatic changes in the past century and are now are considered to be one of the most threatened and endangered ecosystems on Earth. In order to manage these ecosystems and develop effective restoration strategies to improve their degraded condition, it is essential to provide tomorrow’s engineers, managers and planners  with the right tools to solve these problems

The project team will improve the content of an existing University of Michigan course, CEE 624: Restoration Fundamentals and Practices in Aquatic Systems, to provide additional hands‐on learning opportunities targeted at first‐and second‐year master’s students. It will provide a strong field component (new for engineers), more quantitative analysis (often lacking for ecologists/biologists) and an opportunity for students from different disciplines/training to work together and learn from each other’s skill sets. In revising this course, the investigators will emphasize the acquisition of specific skills and knowledge through inquiry‐based approaches. Specifically, the team will:

  1. Enhance the multi‐disciplinary content of the course by having a team of engineering and ecology co‐investigators develop content that uses inquiry‐based methods to demonstrate key concepts;
  2. Engage students in active learning by developing a streamside experimental learning station where students will apply course material to see the outcomes of restoration activities;
  3. Increase student enrollment across departments (such as SNRE, EEB, and EES) by partnering with departments and faculty to increase student awareness of the course and by developing a website to advertise the course through online media; and
  4. Solve real‐world, complex problems with multidisciplinary team projects, by increasing recruitment of non‐CEE students and promoting team‐based field activities to evaluate stream restoration techniques.