University of Vermont

Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory

UVM Hosts Great Lakes Research Conference

Professors Ellen Marsden and Jason Stockwell co-organize large lakes conference that brings scientists from around the world to Lake Champlain

Nathan Tillotson, a Murray State University undergraduate who participated in the Lake Champlain Research Experiences for Undergraduate program at UVM last summer, explains his research on zebra mussels in Lake Champlain to Jory Jonas, a fisheries biologist from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Nearly 700 researchers, managers, students, educators, and citizens gathered at UVM last week to participate in the International Association of Great Lakes Research 58th annual Great Lakes Research Conference. The five-day event marked the first time the conference has been hosted in Vermont, drawing participants from as far away as China, Africa, and Europe. The theme of the conference was “New Views New Tools”, with many sessions highlighting how advances in technology, software, collaborative working models, and citizen engagement have provided new perspectives on the functioning and interaction of large lakes within and between the natural and human “landscapes”.

Dean Nancy Mathews of the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources and UVM Provost David Rosowsky enthusiastically welcomed the conference attendees to the University and to Lake Champlain, and Secretary of Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources Deb Markowitz and Governor Peter Shumlin gave rousing calls to scientists to actively engage with decision-makers to bring about informed policies based on scientific evidence.

Professor Jake Vander Zanden from the Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison gave the first plenary talk, highlighting new biogeochemistry tools that can provide fresh insights on established ideas about how fish are affected by invasive species and a changing climate. Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, gave the second plenary talk, providing passionate and compelling arguments on why the world needs to change its views of water as a commodity to water as a human right.

In addition to these great speakers, conference participants gave over 400 talks and 100 posters on topics ranging from harmful algal blooms to microplastics to the latest technologies for environmental monitoring. Over 100 undergraduate and graduate students presented their research, providing opportunities to showcase their talents, broaden their networks, and explore future employment.

The conference had the fourth largest attendance in the 58 years of its existence, providing the participants an opportunity to experience all that Lake Champlain, Burlington, UVM, and Vermont has to offer, and giving lake scientists a view of the potential offered by research in Lake Champlain.