Michigan Tech Hosts Virtual Great Lakes Conference


More than 600 freshwater researchers and others from the Great Lakes region and beyond will meet virtually May 17–21 for the 64th annual Conference on Great Lakes Research. "Bridging: Knowledges • Seven Generations • Land to Lake" is the theme for the conference, convened by the International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR). Researchers at Michigan Technological University helped to organize the program and will virtually run the event from campus.

“Although this year's conference is again virtual, it is by no means a compromise on quality and content compared with our previous in-person conferences,” said IAGLR President Ed Verhamme of LimnoTech.

Michigan Tech's campus seen across the Keweenaw Waterway with lupine flowers in the foreground.
Though plans were made for an in-person conference, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a virtual IAGLR conference in 2021, which Michigan Tech is hosting virtually.

“Indeed, the program takes advantage of the virtual setting to bring in many speakers from Africa to contrast the large African lakes with the North American Great Lakes,” says program chair Noel Urban and Michigan Tech professor of civil, environmental and geospatial engineering. The program highlights the major problems confronting resource managers for large lakes throughout the world.

More than 375 oral and poster presentations are scheduled in 33 sessions on topics ranging from harmful algal blooms, invasive species, fisheries, water levels and shoreline impacts, and more. In addition, sessions explore justice, equity, diversity and inclusion within the research community; bridging Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge systems; community partnerships; and youth engagement.

“Of particular note this year is IAGLR's attention to Indigenous knowledge,” Verhamme said. More than 90 Indigenous people are attending to share their views and understanding of the Great Lakes. “Connections to all sources of knowledge about lake health are needed to understand and protect large lakes,” he said.

“Indigenous people have very strong connections with the Great Lakes, and we are grateful for their help in developing the program for this conference,” added Urban. “Michigan Tech has had a long history of conducting research on the Great Lakes, as well as a long association with IAGLR,” Urban continued. “Two Michigan Tech faculty — Marty Auer, Charles Kerfoot — have received IAGLR Lifetime Achievement Awards in recognition of their many research accomplishments.”

Many people from across campus contributed to Tech's hosting of the conference, and many Tech alumni are among this year's presenters. Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center played a central role in providing logistical support.