Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve (Lake Superior NERR) Top of Page


The NERR system is a network of 28 reserves which are administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and promotes stewardship of the nation's estuaries through science and education using a system of protected areas. The NERR system builds federal, state, and community partnerships and promotes management and stewardship of estuarine and coastal habitats through scientific understanding linked with public education through a combination of research, education and public outreach.

Mission Statement

NERRS Mission: The establishment and management, through federal-state cooperation, of a national system of Estuarine Research Reserves representative of the various regions and estuarine types in the United States. Estuarine Research Reserves are established to provide opportunities for long-term research, education, and interpretation.


The Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve (Lake Superior NERR) is the 28th research reserve in the NERR System and is the only NERR located in Wisconsin within NOAA's Lake Superior Biogeographical Region. Designated in October 2010, Lake Superior NERR joins Old Woman Creek on Lake Erie as the second Great Lakes freshwater estuary in the NERR System. Lake Superior NERR is situated on the most western tip of Lake Superior and contains examples of many of the types of habitats associated with the St. Louis River freshwater estuary and its watershed. The St. Louis River is the largest United States tributary to Lake Superior and flows 179 miles through a 3,634 square mile watershed. The lower 23 miles of the St. Louis River form the boundary between Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The Reserve contains a variety of habitats including sedge meadows, emergent marshes, barrier beaches, upland coniferous forests, lowland hardwoods, and open water areas of the freshwater estuary, rivers and tributaries, and near shore areas of Lake Superior. The Lake Superior NERR consists of existing public property, which has an established system of authorities and management plans. Lake Superior NERR, in cooperation with municipal, state, federal, and tribal partners, has developed a management plan following existing management plans and NOAA's NERR guidelines. The three tenets of the Lake Superior NERR are research, education, and stewardship. The Lake Superior NERR will serve as a field laboratory where scientists can study patterns and processes along a river-large lake ecological gradient. Lake Superior NERR office will house a visitor center and support public programs where students of all ages can learn about freshwater and Great Lakes ecology. Finally, several of the Lake Superior NERR programs are specifically designed to ensure that scientific knowledge is made available to guide actions of decision makers and members of the public throughout the region.

University of Wisconsin and Lake Superior NERR

The Lake Superior NERR is a state - federal partnership. The federal partner, NOAA, provides federal funds and guidance to the Reserve, while the state partner, University of Wisconsin, provides matching funds and is responsible for the management of the Reserve. Two entities within the University of Wisconsin System have strong ties to the Reserve. Federal funds enter the state through the University of Wisconsin-Extension (UWEX), the State's designated lead agency for the Lake Superior NERR, which is the only Reserve in the NERR system to be managed by the Extension arm of a University. The Lake Superior NERR has a physical presence on the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus. The Lake Superior NERR is housed within two buildings on Barkers Island in Superior, Wisconsin. The administrative offices, laboratory, educational center, and Science and Interpretive Visitors Center are located in these buildings which are owned by University of Wisconsin-Superior and are part of its campus. Lake Superior NERR staff members are appointed through either UWEX or University of Wisconsin-Superior.

University of Wisconsin-Extension

Through UWEX, all Wisconsin people can access university resources and engage in lifelong learning, wherever they live and work. UWEX is a unique partnership of counties, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the University of Wisconsin working together to help people put knowledge to work. It reflects the vision that has become known as The Wisconsin Idea.

This partnership brings education to people where they live, through Extension offices, throughout Wisconsin. UWEX supports educational programs for farmers, businesses, communities, families, and young people. UWEX uses education to help people understand and solve problems. Educational programs reflect local issues and apply research-based knowledge from the University of Wisconsin, other universities and the United States Department of Agriculture to help address them.

UWEX works in cooperation with the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on the Wisconsin Freshwater Estuary Initiative. The Initiative is a statewide effort to increase our understanding and stewardship of Great Lakes freshwater estuaries. One means to reach the goal of the Initiative is through the designation and implementation of the Lake Superior NERR. UWEX is the lead state agency for the Lake Superior NERR and is responsible for the implementation of the management plan.

University of Wisconsin-Superior

University of Wisconsin-Superior (UWS) is located in the northwest corner of Wisconsin in the City of Superior. UWS was established in 1893 and joined the University of Wisconsin System in 1971. Enrollment is approximately 2,800 students. UWS has a reputation for academic excellence through its academic programs and research efforts. UWS is home to Lake Superior Research Institute (LSRI) as well as two other research centers focused on transportation and Great Lakes Maritime Commerce.

LSRI was created in 1967 with a mission focused on environmental research, environmental education, and public outreach for the Great Lakes Region. Major research efforts have focused on water quality monitoring, assessment of stream and coastal wetland aquatic communities, Great Lakes monitoring of plankton and benthos, ballast water treatment research, biodiesel fuel research, invasive species monitoring, and toxicity testing. LSRI anticipates expanding research opportunities with the establishment of the Lake Superior NERR. Faculty and researchers work closely with the Lake Superior NERR staff to identify research needs and to work in partnership with NERR researchers.

In addition to the Lake Superior NERR facilities, the UWS owns a 72 acre parcel of land within the Lake Superior Reserve boundaries that includes Dutchman Creek on the south shore of Lake Superior, which is named the Nelson Outdoor Laboratory. The area is to be used to enhance the instruction, research, and public service missions of the University.

Students majoring in natural and social science programs have opportunities to participate in research projects as student research assistants, interns, or temporary employees upon graduation. The Department of Natural Sciences includes majors in biology; broad field science; cell/molecular biology; ecology, aquatic biology, and fishery science; plant science; chemistry; geography; geology; and physics.

Projects and Research

Areas of interest include: Natural Sciences, Chemistry, Economics and Business, Mathematics, Social Sciences, Physics, Anthropology, History, Psychology and Behavior Sciences, Engineering, Education, and Art.

Public Education

In addition to applied research there is a formal educational program within the Lake Superior NERR.

Student Research Opportunities

There are numerous paid and volunteer student research opportunities. Contact Dr. Ralph Garono or Dr. Shon Schooler.  To learn about volunteer opportunities, contact Becky Sapper.

Lake Superior Research Institute (LSRI) Top of Page


Mary Balcer, Director, Professor, Associate Scientist
Amy Eliot, Assistant Scientist
Lana Fanberg, Research Specialist
Deb Fobbe, Research Specialist
Steve Hagedorn, Associate Database Administrator
Paul Hlina, Associate Researcher
Don Lisdahl, Associate Research Specialist
Tom Markee, Associate Scientist
Katie Nummi, Associate Research Specialist
Christine Polkinghorne, Assistant Researcher
Kelsey Prihoda, Associate Researcher, Quality Assurance
Deanna Reagan, Assistant Researcher
Carrie Sanda, Associate Outreach Specialist
Heidi Schaefer, Research Specialist
Kurt Schmude, Senior Scientist
Ardeen Stoll, Financial Specialist
Matt TenEyck, Associate Researcher


Founded in 1967 and approved by the Board of Regents in 1969, the Lake Superior Research Institute (LSRI) is the applied environmental research and related public outreach unit of UW-Superior. Supported almost entirely by extramural funding, the Institute's mission is concentrated on continuing evaluation and analysis of the physical, chemical and biological conditions of the greater Lake Superior Basin. Faculty and academic staff associated with the Institute possess training in chemistry, biology, environmental education, toxicology, microbiology, geology, statistics and modeling.

Over the years the Institute has received more than 300 grants and contracts with a combined extramural budget of more than $25 million. More than 45 federal and state agencies plus some private firms have supported LSRI, including the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation, MARAD, Army Corps of Engineers, National Park Service, Wisconsin Sea Grant, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Education, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the Chemical Manufacturers Association.

Projects and Research

LSRI is well equipped and staffed to conduct environmental research. Facilities include analytical chemistry laboratories, culture rooms for fish and invertebrates, toxicity testing systems, a microbiology laboratory, and a taxonomy laboratory. LSRI scientists have extensive experience conducting field sampling on Lake Superior, inland lakes, wetlands, and streams.  State-of-the-art sampling equipment and watercraft including the 63-foot research vessel, the L. L. Smith Jr., are available for sampling all aquatic environments.

Present research activities include studies on the occurrence and control of exotic species in the Great Lakes, effects of chemicals on aquatic organisms and ecosystems, biological evaluations of contaminated sediments in the Great Lakes, monitoring and assessing environmental parameters in Lake Superior coastal wetlands, streams, and nearshore areas, monitoring water and air quality of the Lake Superior region, analysis of trace levels of organic and inorganic pollutants, and health effects from consuming contaminated Great Lakes fish.

In addition to research, the Institute is active in the publication of results. Papers are regularly presented at scientific meetings and published in professional journals. LSRI scientists have written and published six toxicity research data books which have a worldwide distribution.

Public Education

LSRI has been involved with several public environmental education programs, including the National Science Foundation's Young Scholars program, American Indian Science and Engineering Society Workshop for teachers, Wisconsin Water Action Volunteer program, Bird Studies Canada volunteer Marsh Monitoring program and a collaborative effort with the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign called Envirovet. All programs combine classroom presentations with daily field and laboratory activities. Many of the field trips include sampling cruises aboard LSRI's research vessel-- L. L. Smith Jr. Participants in the programs range from elementary school students to senior citizens.  Current projects include public education on aquatic invasive species in Douglas County, Wisconsin.

Student Research Opportunities

Many students majoring in the sciences at UW-Superior participate in environmentally oriented research projects under direction of faculty and staff from the LSRI and the department of Natural Sciences. Student participation occurs during the school year through part-time jobs as student research assistants and during the summer through full-time jobs as student research assistants or student research interns. In this way, students gain valuable research experience and earn money to help finance their education.

Student research opportunities exist primarily in conjunction with research projects funded by state and federal agencies. The types of opportunities vary according to expertise of staff and availability of funds within those areas.

McNair Scholars Program Top of Page


The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program (McNair Scholars Program) is a graduate school preparation program. It prepares low-income, first-generation college students and students from groups under-represented in graduate education for doctoral study. Qualifying university students who demonstrate academic ability can apply to the McNair Program as sophomores, juniors or seniors.

Students take part in an extensive graduate school preparation program which consists of monthly workshops and individual meetings,GRE preparation, and mentoring by faculty mentors. As juniors and seniors, they conduct research similar to what they would produce as graduate students and participate in a summer research internship. In the fall of the year students formally present their research projects at a campus-wide poster session and at a National McNair Research Conference.

Projects and Research

The McNair Scholars Program began providing services to students nationally in the 1989-1990 academic year. The University of Wisconsin-Superior received funding through the U.S. Department of Education for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program beginning October 1, 1999. The McNair Program at UWS has worked with over 132 students on research projects across all academic disciplines. 

Student Research Opportunities

Applications are due in late October. Students in all majors are welcome to apply. For more information on qualifications and for applications see:

Undergraduate Research, Scholarship & Creative Activity (URSCA) Top of Page


The Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Committee was established by the Faculty Senate in the spring of 2011. While such activities have long been established on campus, the committee was created to formalize and celebrate this work. Specifically the committee was charged to promote and support undergraduate research, creative activity and scholarship. The committee is advisory to the Provost and reports to the Undergraduate Academic Affairs Council.


The URSCA committee serves as a coordinating body to assist students and staff in accessing regional, state and national opportunities for research, scholarship and creative activities as well as opportunities to showcase these works.

Public Education

The committee organizes at least one all-campus undergraduate research celebration day annually and maintains and publishes a calendar of state and national undergraduate research opportunities for UW Superior students.

Transportation & Logistics Research Center Top of Page


Richard Stewart, Professor, Director, Researcher
Mei Cao, Assistant Professor
Kathleen Derick, Academic Department Associate
Cassandra Roemhildt, Research Associate


The Transportation and Logistics Research Center was founded in 1999 with a mission to provide applied transportation, logistics, and supply chain research, education, and advisory services that benefit the region's economy. The Transportation and Logistics Research Center is located in the Department of Business and Economics in Erlanson Hall. Through its strategic goals (as listed below) the center works to promote and enhance its mission:

  • Be actively involved in applied research projects that enhance the region's transportation and logistics systems.
  • Develop and distribute informational publications and presentations to the academic community and general public.
  • Establish continuing education courses in transportation and logistics to improve the economic effectiveness and safety of the region's transportation systems.
  • Accept recommendations from the advisory board of professionals to continuously improve the center's service to the university and the community.
  • Initiate distinguished speaker series to provide university and community opportunities to learn from and meet leaders in the field.
  • Organize seminars and workshops that expose the region to new ideas and highlight opportunities.

Projects and Research

The Transportation and Logistics Research Center is continually active in transportation and logistics research projects. The faculty and academic staff associated with the center have training in economics, accounting, geography, statistics, transportation, logistics, and various other business disciplines. Since its opening in 1999, the center has received more than $8 million in grants and endowments.

The Transportation and Logistics Research Center partners with many different local and national organizations on research projects, seminars, outreach, and education. These organizations include:

  • The Transportation and Logistics Advisory Board is composed of representatives from key sectors of the transportation and logistics industry and are uniquely able to assist in creating excellence in education.
  • Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute (GLMRI) - The UW-Superior Transportation and Logistics Research Center is a consortium member of GLMRI. The National Maritime Enhancement Institute is dedicated to developing and improving economically and environmentally sustainable maritime commerce on the Great Lakes through applied research.
  • National Center for Freight Research and Education (CFIRE) -- UW-Superior's Transportation and Logistics Research Center is a consortium member of the UW-Madison University Transportation Research Center.
  • Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium - UW-Superior hosted the 17th annual meeting in 2007 and has been awarded student scholarships and faculty grants.
  • Keller & Associates, Inc., sponsors the Transportation Safety and Compliance Online Study Lab.

Student Research Opportunities

The Transportation and Logistics Research Center offers the opportunity to qualified students looking to become involved in undergraduate research. Student research opportunities vary each semester depending on the number of ongoing projects. Opportunities include part-time jobs, student research assistants, and internships to help students gain valuable research experience, and further their education goals.