The Lake Superior Reserve conducts ongoing scientific research of its own while also partnering with natural and social scientists from research universities and government agencies. The Reserve employs two full-time research and monitoring staff who coordinate scientific research and operate the Reserve’s System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) and Sentinel Site Program. Our onsite research deals in large part with the estuary and lake ecosystems, though our partners also conduct social science research. Our research and monitoring, as well as our partners’ research, is guided by several priority themes: climate change, invasive species, pollutants, freshwater estuary research, species of special interest, restoration research and social science that improves our understanding of the socio-economic aspects of the St. Louis River Estuary. We encourage researchers who are interested in partnering with the Reserve to learn more about our research priorities and onsite capabilities.

Undergraduate Student Opportunity

The Lake Superior Freshwater Fellowship has an exciting, immersive, and multidisciplinary opportunity for undergraduate students to independently craft and conduct research under the guidance of a Reserve mentor.

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Graduate Student Opportunity

Apply for the two-year Margaret A. Davidson Graduate Fellowship focused on natural and social science research within the nation’s diverse estuaries and surrounding communities. Applications due December 20, 2019.

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Research & Monitoring Staff

Students & Interns

Victoria Bockenstedt

Lake Superior Winter Fellow

University of Minnesota Duluth

Hannah Burgstaler

Lake Superior Freshwater Fellow

University of Minnesota Duluth

Anna Hall

Research and Monitoring Technician

University of Minnesota Duluth

Jenny Sherren

Lake Superior Winter Fellow

System-Wide Monitoring Program

Our research staff are responsible for operating the Reserves’ System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) and Sentinel Site program. SWMP provides researchers, resource managers, educators and other coastal decision makers a standardized network of data sondes and sampling/monitoring measures. We initiated SWMP in 2012 and the Sentinel Site program in 2013. Eventually, Sentinel Site will link a wide array of NOAA meteorological stations all over the country with SWMP stations and other Reserve monitoring projects to evaluate how coastal ecosystems are responding to climate change.

A research staff member gathering a water sample

Research Facilities

Tools for your research

The Reserve’s research facilities include a dockside laboratory, 25-foot and 19-foot research vessels and meeting and work spaces. Our lab and facilities are suitable for a wide variety of scientific research, including water quality analysis, and are available to visiting and partnering researchers.

Research Facilities
R2512 25-foot research vessel docked at Reserve on Superior Bay
People & Places Work Group gathering at an exterior site

People & Places Work Group

The People and Places Work Group is an interdisciplinary group of researchers and scholars whose collaborations integrate natural and social sciences in resource management. Facilitated by the Lake Superior Reserve, the work group includes members from universities in the Twin Ports region, as well as state and federal researchers. Members collaborate on environment-human research with an emphasis on ecosystem services.


Citizen science volunteers gathering river samples

Citizen Science

Science is strengthened by collaboration and broad participation. We recognize that understanding the St. Louis River Estuary and its natural and human communities is not a task we can do alone. We partner with many researchers from local universities and state and federal agencies, and we plan to expand into broader and more informal scientific research partnerships with local citizens in the near future. If you are interested in learning how you could help us with our research goals, please contact the Friends of Lake Superior Reserve to learn more about volunteer and citizen science opportunities.

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Research News

What surprised you about working in an estuary? 12 scholars share their insights

Sep 14th, 2019, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NOAA teams up with Viking to conduct and share science aboard new Great Lakes expedition voyages

Jan 16th, 2020, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

A college student’s search for bloody red shrimp

Oct 16th, 2019, Wisconsin Sea Grant

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Upcoming Events

Apr 08