Great Waters Research Collaborative

Supporting our Nation’s Great Waters

The Great Waters Research Collaborative (GWRC) is devoted to studying ways to support sustainable industrial, commercial and public use of the nation’s Great Waters, especially through green shipping. The GWRC team has a comprehensive research capacity for maritime environmental research services. Team members include experienced researchers with diverse expertise from the Lake Superior Research Institute (LSRI), the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute and AMI Consulting Engineers.

The GWRC’s main focus is on preventing new ballast water introductions of invasive species in the Great Lakes and other Great Waters. In particular, the GWRC executes type approval tests of ballast-water management-systems (BWMS) for U.S. Coast Guard type approval. The GWRC also monitors ship-mediated transfers of organisms within the Great Lakes, generally, and researches any continuing risk of ship-mediated invasive species. All GWRC work is well coordinated with, and helps inform, on-going private sector, state, federal and international policy activity. The GWRC is advised by an external committee, consisting of stakeholders from the U.S. and Canadian commercial shipping industry, maritime organizations within the Great Lakes region, non-governmental policy/environmental organizations, federal regulatory agencies, state agencies, Great Lakes ports, and Great Lakes cities. The GWRC Advisory Committee meets at least annually to discuss the GWRC research program.


  • Ship and harbor sampling:
    • Biota and physical/chemical characteristics
    • Enumeration and live/dead analysis of organisms
    • Indicator microbe and pathogen analysis
  • Zooplankton, phytoplankton, and protist taxonomy
  • Data management and GIS
  • Isokinetic (i.e., representative) sampling of ballast water
  • Shipboard operational assessments of BWMS
  • Culturing and concentrating indicator organisms for BWMS assessments
  • Whole Effluent Toxicity testing

  • Bench-Scale “proof of concept” testing in fresh water of Ballast Water Management System (BWMS) processes under development by vendors
  • Ship-Scale “status” testing of proposed BWMS, and USCG Certification Testing of market-ready systems (all salinities)
  • Harbor monitoring for target organisms, organism size classes and physical/chemical BWMS challenge conditions
  • Methods development for sampling and assessing ship’s ballast water and BWMS performance
  • Spatial database development and operation around ballast water challenge conditions
  • Outreach and technical assistance around green shipping issues

Contact Us

For more information about GWRC, contact LSRI Director Dr. Matthew TenEyck. We also invite you to subscribe to our GWRC mailing list to receive the latest information.