The Department of Biological Sciences at Michigan Technological University has a number of research groups associated with it.
Agassiz Research Vessel
Michigan Tech’s location on the Keweenaw Waterway affords students, faculty, and staff access to the embayments, islands and open waters of Lake Superior. The university operates the R/V Agassiz in support of its mission in aquatic sciences. Custom built for Michigan Tech in 2002, the 36-foot, aluminum-hulled Agassiz has a top speed of 30 mph and a cruising distance of over 250 miles. The vessel features a heated pilot house with the latest in electronic navigation equipment and a cuddy cabin with marine head. Deck gear includes two oceanographic winch – davit systems. The vessel is inspected and certified by the U.S. Coast Guard and carries a full complement of safety gear. The Agassiz is operated by a licensed captain and can carry 18 passengers. Charters are available for educational and research purposes.
Algal Cell Walls & Extracellular Polymers
Work is centered on the cell wall and associated extracellular polymers of algae. We are interested in what these algal extracellular matrices can tell us about: 1) the evolution of the land plant cell wall, 2) the unique characteristics that allow for life in aquatic habitats, 3) the interactions within complex biofilms, including the heterotropic utilization of complex macromolecules, and 4) the biomineralization processes (ex. silica and calcium carbonate) associated with these extracellular polymers.
Charles Kerfoot Research Group
Current research includes paleoecology, ecosystems studies, Keweenaw Interdisciplinary Transport Experiment in Superior (KITES), and Episodic Events - Great Lakes Experiment (EEGLE).
Northern Watershed Studies
The Northern Watershed Ecosystem Project conducts long-term research, inventory, and monitoring in a small network of legally-protected research sites located in National Parks and Preserves. The project goal is to gain understanding of the structure and function of representative ecosystems and their response to stressors. Most sites have been under study for 20+ years. The network of sites represents a diverse set of natural ecosystems from the northern hardwood-boreal ecotone to the taiga-tundra tree line.
Wood to Wheels (W2W)
Wood-To-Wheels is a collaborative program of the Sustainable Futures Institute (SFI) to establish a transportation fuel system based upon woody biomass. SFI collaborators are researching innovations that address the entire value chain from plant genomics to consumer attitudes. The goal is to increase the overall efficiency of converting solar energy captured in forest and other biomass resources.