Thursday, August 09, 2012

Michigan Tech celebrates Dedication of Great Lakes Research Center

By Michele Bourdieu

On Aug. 2, 2012, Michigan Tech University President Glenn Mroz begins the Dedication Ceremony for the new Great Lakes Research Center by welcoming visitors and acknowledging the work of those who helped bring the project to fruition. Standing with him at right is Michigan Tech Board of Control Chair Steve Hicks. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated.)

HOUGHTON -- What better location could there be for Michigan Tech's new Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) than right on the Keweenaw Waterway, where water-related research can be conducted under natural conditions, research vessels may be launched from its year-round boathouse and K-12 teachers and students can take advantage of its teaching labs through a community education/ outreach program?

Visitors to the Dedication Ceremony for the Great Lakes Research Center observe the boat docking facility next to the Center's boathouse and the view across the Keweenaw Waterway. 

Visitors -- including alumni on campus for their reunion -- learned all this and more during the Aug. 2 Dedication Ceremony and ribbon cutting at the Center, followed by guided tours to some of its features, including laboratories and a roof garden over the boathouse. The public was also invited to socialize at a reception where gourmet hors d'oeuvre and liquid refreshments were served.

The event began with a welcome by Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz, who acknowledged the work of faculty, staff, former State Representative Mike Lahti, former Board of Control Chair Marty Richardson, Director of the Center's Operations Mike Abbott, architects and contractors in making the GLRC project a reality.

Michigan Tech University President Glenn Mroz, welcomes visitors to the Dedication of the university's new Great Lakes Research Center on Aug. 2, 2012. (Video clips by Keweenaw Now)

The Center is a $25 million project, of which the State of Michigan contributed about 75 percent and Michigan Tech the rest, Mroz noted.

Michigan Tech Board of Control Chair Steve Hicks spoke about the Board's support of the project and the responsibility to preserve and utilize the Center correctly for today and for the future.

"It's a wonderful signal the State of Michigan has sent by entrusting Tech with this facility to be a leader not only in the state but in the world for research and education for this critical resource in our fresh water -- the Great Lakes," Hicks said.

Guy Meadows, the new director of Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Initiatives, described the research goals and educational outreach planned for the Center.

Guy Meadows, Great Lakes Research Initiatives director, formerly of the University of Michigan, speaks about the research and educational mission of the Center -- "a place where the general public, policy makers, scientists, researchers and students can come together and continue to act in a meaningful way."

Next Mroz summoned the members of Michigan Tech's Board of Control for the ribbon cutting:
Michigan Tech Board of Control Chair Steve Hicks cuts the ribbon as Board members, Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz (second from right) and Guy Meadows (far right), director of Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Initiatives, look on. (Photo © and courtesy Lizmar Rodriguez Lugo)

Michigan Tech Board of Control members assemble for the official ribbon cutting at the Aug. 2, 2012, Dedication of the Great Lakes Research Center on the campus waterfront.

Visitors to the Center's roof garden above the boat house were very impressed with the native plants -- spurges -- already growing there.

Marcia Goodrich, Michigan Tech Magazine editor, commented on the spurges from a gardener's point of view.

"They soak up the water. They're very hardy and drought tolerant," Goodrich explained.. "The purpose of the green roof is to minimize runoff and cool the building."

Visitors at the Aug. 2 Dedication take a tour of the roof garden. In the foreground are the spurges, hardy native plants now growing there.

Alyson Jabusch of Hancock was also admiring the roof garden.

"It's impressive. I love the roof garden," Jabusch said. "It's about time that Tech makes a bigger connection with the Great Lakes."

This photo shows a view across the Keweenaw Waterway from the roof garden of the Great Lakes Research Center.

Amy Hughes, who works as an auditor in Michigan Tech's Lakeshore Center (former UPPCO building), was impressed with the beauty of the building and its promise of research for the future.

"I'm really hoping we can advance in research on fresh water -- for the benefit of the world, for our future," Hughes said. "I think everyone hopes that."

A view of the entrance to the Great Lakes Research Center. The boat house and roof garden are on the right.

A former Vice-President for fundraising, Ron Helman of Chassell, described the building as "magnificent."

"It will have world-wide impact, I think," Helman said. "It will be quite an attraction for students who want to come here for fresh water studies."

Ashley Coble, a Michigan Tech Ph.D. student in biological sciences, said she was impressed by the Center's laboratories.

"I think there are outstanding facilities here -- certainly great lab facilities," Coble said.

Coble's biogeochemistry research is related to nutrient export from streams into Lake Superior.

According to the GLRC Web site, interdisciplinary research at the Center will include such topics as air-water interactions, biogeochemistry, hydrodynamics and sediment transport, fisheries, invasive species and food web relationships, low impact development, and storm-water management.*

Expressing an interest in that research was Ken Vrana, director of the Isle Royale Institute in Michigan Tech's School of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences.

He noted the building is both beautiful and functional.

"I think it's well planned out in terms of the type of research contemplated for the years ahead," Vrana said. "But what's really critical about such a space is that it provides an environment for sharing ideas and developing multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary projects -- and of course those projects focus on the Great Lakes and water resources."

He said the Isle Royale Institute places an emphasis on ecology.

"That's why I'm here -- to explore opportunities for the Isle Royale Institute," Vrana added.

He noted as examples the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Study and other scientific research and educational programs on Isle Royale.

A visitor from Keweenaw County, Robert Haataja, born and raised in Ahmeek though now living in Dollar Bay, said he came to the Dedication because of his love of Lake Superior.

"Lake Superior is my life. That's why I live here," Haataja said. "I'm a scuba diver and rock hound and fisherman, beachcomber and explorer."

More photos ...

As visitors assemble for the Dedication, Steve Casey, left, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Water Resources Division district supervisor of the Upper Peninsula District Office, chats with Tom Rozich, right, formerly of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and Phil Musser, executive director of the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance (KEDA).

MDEQ's Steve Casey, who also participated in a panel discussion at the Science Symposium held at Michigan Tech the morning of Aug. 2, preceding the Dedication, shares fishing stories with Bill Deephouse, avid fisherman, former Department of Natural Resources fisheries official and former president of the Copper Country Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Click on photo for a better view of Bill's "fish" shirt.

Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz welcomes visitors to the Dedication of the Great Lakes Research Center on a sunny Aug. 2, 2012, afternoon.

Following the Dedication, visitors enjoy gourmet hors d'oeuvre and beverages inside the Center. The door at right leads to the roof garden.

*Click here for more information about the Great Lakes Research Center, more videos, and waterfront photos.

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