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Great Lakes Science in Action Symposium aims to connect people, politics and science


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Biology faculty Kirsten Nicholson judges the student research presentations for the Great Lakes Research Symposium in the School of Engineering and Technology March 22. 

The sixth annual Great Lakes Science in Action Symposium aspires to prepare and present "the next generation of Great Lakes science" by translating water quality to lawmaking. 

Central Michigan University's Institute for Great Lakes Research (IGLR) is hosting the event from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11 in the Biosciences Auditorium. It will feature presentations by U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga of Michigan's 2nd Congressional District and Dan Eichinger, director of Michigan's Department of Natural Resources. 

"Our keynote speakers have always been key decision-makers from Congress that are influential in Great Lakes," said biology faculty member Donald Uzarski, the institute's director. "This is an opportunity to discuss Great Lakes issues while informing the community through our research." 

Huizenga, the keynote speaker, has been the co-chair of the Great Lakes Task Force since January 2017. The bipartisan group aims to combat waste from waterborne trade and the expansion of invasive species, advance waterways and water infrastructure and preserve the availability of safe drinking water. 

Uzarki said the event ultimately commemorates the relationship between science and politics and the institute's persistance toward making their information accessible to all community members and legislators. 

"Our research tackles Great Lakes issues and then we translate the findings to lawmakers and the general public so that it has an impact," Uzarki said. "While our first step is to put our science through the scientific test by going through the peer review process for publication in scientific journals, we cannot stop there because only other (scientists) will see it." 

With operations being managed by 31 scientists from CMU's departments of biology, chemistry, Earth and atmospheric sciences, geography and engineering, Uzarki said the IGLR has averaged $3-4 million annually in external project investments, and has published research in more than 130 peer-reviewed scientific publications since 2010. 

"We have a lot of research being conducted in the (United States) and Canada, (and) also in China and Europe," he said. "As far as how the community will react to the symposium, I hope that they learn from the event while also making their voices heard." 

The event will include a panel discussion covering the importance of native mussels in Michigan rivers, changes in water quality amongst the Great Lakes and "a Great Lakes basin wide coastal wetland monitoring program." It will conclude with a pre-screening of Linking Lands and Lakes: Protecting Great Lakes' Coastal Wetlands by WCMU Public Media. 

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About Samantha Shriber

Samantha Shriber is a staff reporter at Central Michigan Life and is a Saint Clair Shores ...

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