The Great Lakes: Tackling Challenges Today and Beyond

Tuesday March 3, 2020
9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Lincoln Room, Kellogg Center
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824


The Great Lakes are vital to Michigan, providing vast recreational opportunities, a premier fisheries resource valued between $4-$7 billion annually, high quality habitat and refuge; food and water for millions of people, and a vast water source for agriculture and other industries. However, the Great Lakes face challenges from invasive species, harmful algal blooms, contaminants, disease, and other pollutants. This conference will address some of the major benefits that the Great Lakes provide as well as challenges that they continually face. Topics include legislative developments with ballast water and invasive species; fish diseases and their impacts on the Great Lakes; reclaiming Detroit's industrial waterfront; forecasting harmful algal blooms (HABs); a sneak preview of a new PBS production on HABs, and more. 


9:00  Welcome and Introduction – Heather Triezenberg, Michigan Sea Grant Extension, Michigan State University, East Lansing

9:15  Legislative Developments with the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA) and Invasive Species - Sarah LeSage, Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator, Water Resources Division, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE)

10:00 Coffee Break

10:30 Towards Knowing the Unknowns: Great Lakes Fish Health in the 21st Century - Tom Loch, Assistant Professor, Aquatic Animal Health Lab, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation, Michigan State University, East Lansing 

11:15 The Erie Situation: Documentary in Progress - David Ruck, President/Producer, Great Lakes Outreach Media, Muskegon, MI

12:15 Lunch - On Your Own

Afternoon Moderator: Michelle Selzer, Water Resources Division, EGLE

1:30 Understanding Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Erie: Evidence from Genomes to Satellites - Tom Johengen, Director, Michigan Sea Grant, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

2:15 Break

2:30 Waterfront Porch: Reclaiming Detroit's Industrial Waterfront as a Gathering Place for All -  John Hartig, Visiting Scholar, University of Windsor’s Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research and Great Lakes Science Policy Advisor, International Association for Great Lakes Research, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

3:15 Life of the Lakes: Fisheries - Dan O’Keefe and Brandon Schroeder, Senior Educators, Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan State University Extension, West Olive and Alpena, MI

4:00 Adjourn


-Participants: $15 early, $20 on-site
-Students: No charge
-Speakers: No charge

Cancellation fee of $5 after Feb. 21, 2020

Note to Teachers: Great Lakes Conference stipends are available to support the participation of formal and informal educators in the conference and connected Educator Luncheon. These stipends are provided by Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding through a grant from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and represent a Center for Great Lakes Literacy (CGLL) initiative facilitated by Michigan Sea Grant Extension. Visit for more information. Please apply before the 2/14 deadline.  


Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting the event contact two weeks prior to the start of the event. Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact Lois Wolfson at or 517-353-9222.