University News

Three UW-Whitewater water research projects garner statewide funding

April 04, 2022

Written by Kristine Zaballos | Photos by Craig Schreiner

Three research endeavors at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater have been awarded almost $40,000 in funding from the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin, it was announced on Tuesday.

The research projects, which vary from a Freshwater Summer Camp to developing a toolkit designed to measure the effects of water cleanup and restoration projects on a community's economic vitality, will be initiated as soon as summer 2022.


Associate Professor Elisabeth Harrahy stands in a river talking to students.

Allen Creek in rural Fort Atkinson becomes a classroom for students in Associate Professor Elisabeth Harrahy's aquatic biology class.


“Freshwater Camp: A Summer Field Experience for High School Juniors” is a project led by Elisabeth Harrahy, associate professor of biology at UW-Whitewater, in collaboration with Jessica Orlofske and Laura Schulz at UW-Parkside. The team will pilot a water-focused high school camp in Southeastern Wisconsin in June 2022 that will highlight important freshwater habitats in our region, build confidence and skills with hands-on field and laboratory activities, and introduce potential freshwater career opportunities to students who will spend three days on each of the two campuses, staying in the residence halls at night.


Assistant Professor Stephen Levas discusses samples of crushed soft coral as part of a research project.

Assistant Professor Stephen Levas discusses samples of crushed soft coral as part of a research project.


“Aquatic Biogeochemistry of Wisconsin Waters,” co-led by Stephen Levas, assistant professor of geography, geology and environmental science, and John Ejnik, associate professor of chemistry, will develop an interdisciplinary course in aquatic biogeochemistry that could be taken by Freshwater Collaborative students from any UW System campus in the future.


A person crouches on the edge of a river to collect a sample.

A sample is taken from along the bank of the Rock River at the Indianford dam.


“Building a Toolbox to Evaluate the ROI on redevelopment of Areas of Concern” will be led by Russell Kashian, professor of economics, of The Institute for Water Business at UW-Whitewater, and will collaborate with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Office of Great Waters to develop a toolbox will help provide more rigorous, quantitative information on the value of water improvements to state and local decision makers. In the study, undergraduate students will benefit from the ability to work on water quality issues from an economic perspective.

The funding for the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin grants is part of a statewide initiative, backed by the Wisconsin State Legislature and Gov. Tony Evers, to tackle 10 grand water challenges and support curriculum development, undergraduate research opportunities, career development, and field training experiences for students interested in studying water-related fields at the 13 UW Schools.

The 42 grants, for a total of $3.42 million, are intended to further develop UW System-wide water science programs, internships and research opportunities. High school and undergraduate students will have opportunities to participate in hands-on field and research experiences with faculty throughout the state, allowing them to develop a diverse range of skills.

Grant descriptions for the 2022 projects are available at

For more information regarding the UW-Whitewater projects, contact Elisabeth Harrahy, associate professor of biology, at or 262-472-1086.