Water Center specialists engage in the following activities and offer these services to potential collaborators.
Convening: We plan and facilitate targeted workshops and networking events around specific water-related issues. These events bring together policy, resource management, and research communities from government, industry, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions to discuss pressing issues and prioritize actions, scope and refine approaches to specific issues, and secure broader feedback on research products.
Supporting collaborative research: Our collaboration experts work with project teams to ensure meaningful engagement with end users and that project outputs lead to anticipated outcomes. Our team is skilled in collaborative problem solving and facilitation, and can help project teams identify target end users and engagement strategies, prioritize actions, and iteratively incorporate user feedback to improve projects. In addition, we provide grants for projects addressing estuary issues, see NERRS Science Collaborative.
Project scoping: We continually assess current and emerging water resource issues and information needs. Water Center specialists are available to talk through project ideas, explore the policy or scientific context and help articulate the “broader impact” for research proposals. We have strong relationships with leaders in the bi-national Great Lakes policy and management community and can help establish connections between academic researchers and practitioners.
Science communication: We help develop high impact and user-friendly research products and communication tools. By engaging decision makers at all levels of government, non-government organizations, the private sector, and other academics, we ensure that our materials meet the needs of targeted audiences.
Impact evaluation: We formally evaluate individual projects and our overall program to identify improvements and increase efficacy. This includes understanding and assessing behaviors of the producers and users of science through interviews, surveys and observations. We use this information to evaluate progress toward anticipated outcomes and to understand how decision making has changed as a result of our engagement.
Great Lakes research: Our research team is broadly focused on developing and applying diverse modeling approaches to understand and predict the impact of anthropogenic stressors and environmental change on freshwater resources. The overarching goal is to provide resource managers, policy makers and stakeholders with knowledge and tools that inform the design of science-based management actions to protect and restore water quality in the Great Lakes.
Engaging Students: Students are vital players in most of our projects, and we support opportunities for them to engage the science-policy interface through internships and fellowships designed to enhance the outcomes of our projects. Water Center specialists currently teach a graduate-level course on Great Lakes science and policy and a summer field course on Great Lakes oceanography. Developing the next generation of water resources professionals is critical to ensuring healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems and the services they provide.