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WUWM's Susan Bence reports on Wisconsin environmental issues.

Protecting The Great Lakes: UWM Receives $10 Million For Research Vessel

UWM's new research vessel has been partially funded by an anonymous donor. The university is raising the remaining $10 million necessary to construct and maintain the vessel.

An anonymous donor has pledged $10 million to help fund a new research vessel for UW-Milwaukee's School of Freshwater Sciences.

University officials said Wednesday it will be the most advanced research vessel on the Great Lakes, and the first designed specifically to conduct sophisticated research within the basin.

Credit UW-Milwaukee
UWM purchased a used Army T-Boat in 1970. It was transformed into the school's first research vessel, the Neeskay.

The vessel will replace the Neeskay, an Army T-boat the university bought and converted nearly 50 years ago.

UWM Chancellor Mark Mone says the vessel, which will be called Maggi Sue, will dramatically advance scientific understanding of the Great Lakes.

"More than 40 million people rely on the Great Lakes for clean drinking water, and this vessel will help us address our most pressing problems," he said in a press release.

The project comes with a $20 million price-tag — $15 million to construct the vessel and $5 million to sustain its operation. 

Credit UW-Milwaukee
It costs $15 million to construct the vessel and $5 million to keep it operating.

The vessel will feature:

  • sensors that'll collect real-time data.
  • interchangeable lab pods that can be switched out depending on scientists' needs.
  • a dynamic positioning system that allows the vessel to stay in one place despite the current, wind and waves.
  • onboard labs enabling experiments on the water.
  • classrooms for university students and K-12 students.
  • sleeping accommodations for up to 18 people, allowing scientists and crew to gather continuous readings without needing to return to shore.

The Maggi Sue will also enhance a recently launched UWM-lead pilot project. The Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin brings UW System campuses together to advance research and education.

"The Maggi Sue will give us the means to gain a clear and up-close picture of the challenges facing the Great Lakes and help us go further in generating solutions to these problems," says Val Klump, dean of the School of Freshwater Sciences.

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Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.
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