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President Eric Kaler receives update on vital Lake Superior research

Duluth visit also includes legislators, business leaders, UMD chancellor and Regent McMillan

August 6, 2012

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler visited the University of Minnesota, Duluth (UMD) campus today to receive an update on Lake Superior-based fresh water research -- a vital step toward protecting one of the most important sources of fresh water and shipping access.

“The University of Minnesota is working with our northeastern Minnesota partners to grow the area economy and build the state’s prosperity in a responsible way,” Kaler said. “Our research, land and sea grant missions, as well as our history of innovation on the Iron Range, Lake Superior and across the region, allow us to help meet the state’s most pressing challenges.”

Kaler led a group of university scholars and legislators in a research demonstration aboard the Blue Heron, the research vessel of UMD’s Large Lakes Observatory (LLO).  While on board, Kaler and legislators heard from a U physicist, chemist and three geologists who are researching ways to protect Minnesota’s water resources, the planet’s fresh water supply and aquatic life. The group is also studying Lake Superior’s response to the June 20 flooding, allowing scientists to better predict and protect residents and infrastructure from large rainstorm events.

In addition, Kaler received a briefing about two new autonomous profiling moorings (i.e., mechanisms that are attached to anchors and collect underwater data) that are scheduled to be launched and installed on the floor of Lake Superior this week. The moorings, made possible by a National Science Foundation grant, will allow for a permanent presence in the lake to collect data. Lead researchers said the moorings will allow them to collect the first continuous data during the winter months.

“For nearly a century, university research has helped us better understand lake ecosystems and the impacts that threaten fresh water in the 21st century,” Kaler said. “UMD is a leader in fresh water research and in preparing tomorrow’s scientists to address threats to this valuable natural resource. Together with our legislative, community and business partners, the university will continue to focus on protecting Minnesota’s greatest lake for the good of the state, its economy and our natural environment.”

Kaler also met with business leaders and UMD alumni while in Duluth. He was joined on the trip by his wife, Karen Kaler, UMD Chancellor Lendley Black and university Regent David McMillan of Duluth.

Close to 16,000 residents from northeastern Minnesota are graduates of the University of Minnesota, and together they hold more than 20,000 degrees, including advanced degrees in medicine, law, engineering and veterinary medicine. Last semester, the U’s five statewide campuses enrolled 2,286 students hailing from northeastern Minnesota. 

UMD, Cloquet Forestry Center, Grand Rapids Regional Extension Office and area county Extension offices account for more than 1,800 jobs in the region, resulting in a $374 million economic impact.

For more information on UMD, visit

Located on the UMD campus, the Large Lakes Observatory (LLO) is the only institute in the country dedicated to the study of large lakes throughout the world. The LLO focuses on the global implications of research investigations in the areas of aquatic chemistry, circulation dynamics, geochemistry, acoustic remote sensing, plankton dynamics, sedimentology and paleoclimatology. For more information, visit

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