When it comes to research on Lake Superior, the expertise can be found at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

For more than 50 years, the institution’s Lake Superior Research Institute has done chemical analysis; monitored invasive species; studied benthic and zooplankton taxonomy; studied microbiology and sediment and aquatic toxicology; and planned watershed management and wetland assessment and monitoring.

And for more than a decade, the institute has added testing the efficacy of ballast water treatment systems to stop the spread of invasive species in the Great Lakes to its repertoire.

And Thursday, Oct. 10, the University of Wisconsin Board or Regents and UW System president got a chance to tour the UWS’s waterfront research facility created to help the shipping industry stop the spread of invasive species.

“Before the rains came in and with that beautiful sunrise, they were out there this morning at 7:30 a.m. and the director and I took them around and showed them what it’s all about,” Chancellor Renee Wachter said.

“For me, I live in Madison, so it’s great for me to get immersed in our campuses to see the sophistication … and the equipment we use to process this,” Regent President Drew Peterson said. “It’s that kind of investment, support that really makes a difference.”

The Board of Regents is in Superior through Friday, Oct. 11, for its regular meeting, an event that happens once in about seven years, Wachter said. In addition to the Board of Regents meeting, university leaders will be meeting with community leaders during an "All In Wisconsin" breakfast.

“What we’re attempting to do is celebrate what we do and the influence we have around the state of Wisconsin,” UW System President Ray Cross said. He said the goal is to help people understand the university system is there to help deal with the challenges Wisconsin faces.

UW-Superior Chancellor Renée Wachter, center, speaks during a press conference at UWS as Regent President Andrew Petersen, left, and University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross listenThursday morning.  (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
UW-Superior Chancellor Renée Wachter, center, speaks during a press conference at UWS as Regent President Andrew Petersen, left, and University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross listenThursday morning. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

“The university is critical to the future of the state,” Cross said.

“The best thing about being on our campuses, taking our regents show on the road, is we get to see the kind of impacts – both societal and economic – that take place in our regions of the state,” Regent President Drew Petersen said. “And Superior is having tremendous impact.”

Wachter said a recent economic impact study shows UWS contributes $54 million and 626 jobs to the local community and contributes more than 68,000 hours of community engagement in addition to the applied research done by its research institutes like the Lake Superior Research Institute.

“When we think about why our institutions were founded and where they’re located it was to have community impact,” Wachter said. “One of the things we’ll be doing is to talk about our impact on the community and what our partnerships are.”

The "All In Wisconsin" breakfast will be the fourth at campuses around the state, and gives the university system a chance to sit down with business and civic leaders to showcase the university’s impact on needed talent and to listen to the community leaders about their needs.

“This is an opportunity for us to see how campuses are evolving to meet the challenges Wisconsin’s workforce has,” Petersen said. “The economy is firing on all cylinders. Superior is having a bit of a renaissance. That’s happening across the state and we wanted to mobilize our support.”

UW-Superior Chancellor Renée Wachter, left, listens to Regent President Andrew Petersen, during a press conference at UWS on Thursday morning.  (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
UW-Superior Chancellor Renée Wachter, left, listens to Regent President Andrew Petersen, during a press conference at UWS on Thursday morning. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)