University of Wisconsin Madison College of Engineering
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The University of Wisconsin-Madison is recognized worldwide as a leader in the field of freshwater and aquatic ecology. The Freshwater and Marine Sciences program began in 1962 as the Oceanography and Limnology graduate program. We combine research and teaching from several fields and assists departments to develop a greater understanding of aquatic systems — their origins, inhabitants, phenomena, and impact on human life. History “Expanding Waters” »


First text page of an article about the history of water sciences in Wisconsin. Facilities for freshwater and marine research and instruction in the biological, chemical, and physical areas of freshwater and marine sciences and oceanography are available at UW-Madison through the Center for Limnology, the Water Science and Engineering Laboratory, and the departments of faculty participating in the program. The Center for Limnology also maintains a year-round laboratory at Trout Lake. This facility is a well-equipped biological field station in the Northern Highlands lake district of Wisconsin. Several research vessels are available for research on the Great Lakes. Ships belonging to other institutions are used for oceanographic field research.




The 24 current faculty of the FMS program (Table 1) represent a truly interdisciplinary group of researchers which come from the following home departments: Civil and Environmental Engineering (8), Zoology (5), Botany (3), Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (3), Geosciences (2), Agronomy (1), Entomology(1) and Pathobiological Sciences (1). The accomplishments of individual faculty members have been recognized by many national and international awards. An incomplete list of examples includes:


Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, Stanley, Gratton and Vander Zanden


President Geological Society of America 2009-2010, Bahr


Member of Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, Bahr


Geological Society of America Fellow, Bahr


National Science Foundation CAREER Awards, Desai, McMahon, and Loheide


Packard Foundation Fellow, McIntyre


NASA New Investigator, McKinley


Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Potter


Fellow, American Geophysical Union, Potter


Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Potter


J. C. Stevenson Memorial Award, Vander Zanden


Ecology Institute International Recognition of Professional Excellence (IRPE) Prize in Limnetic Ecology, Vander Zanden


Citizen of the Year 2012, Yahara Lakes Association, Wu


U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Carpenter


Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Carpenter


Foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Carpenter


2011 laureate of the Stockholm Water Prize, Carpenter


Pew Fellowship in Conservation and Environment, Carpenter


G. Evelyn Hutchinson Medal of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, Carpenter


Robert H. MacArthur Award from the Ecological Society of America, Carpenter


Excellence in Ecology Prize from the Ecology Institute, Carpenter


Naumann-Thienemann medal of the International Society for Limnology, Carpenter


The UW system was awarded a major Sea Grant program in 1968. The program had three elements—the research and outreach effort of Sea Grant, a new research institution (the Marine Studies Center) and a new graduate program, the Oceanography and Limnology Program (O&L). Professor R. A. Ragotzkie served as the lead PI for the Sea Grant program, Director of the Marine Studies Center and Chair of the O&L Program. The Chair was appointed on a 3-year rotation based on a vote of the O&L faculty. While the Sea Grant program was administered through the UW Graduate School, the Marine Studies Center and O&L Program were housed within the new Institute for Environmental Studies with office space afforded through the Meteorology and Space Science building (now AOS) and a half-time graduate program admissions coordinator supported with a combination of funding coming from CALS, L&S and Engineering.


In 1977, the O&L faculty changed the program's administrative home from the Institute for Environmental Studies to the College of Engineering. In addition, the administrative office for the program was moved to the Laboratory of Limnology.


In 1994, the graduate admissions coordinator assumed responsibility for serving both L&MS and the Environmental Chemistry Program, which is based in CEE. Accordingly, the appointment was expanded to a 60% position.


In 1999, the O&L faculty changed the name of the program to Limnology and Marine Science (LMS). In 2013, the LMS again change the program name to Freshwater and Marine Sciences, which better articulate the full scope water-related research conducted within the program to non-specialists.


Over the course of time, the faculty recognized that multi-disciplinary training based on core courses was less desirable than interdisciplinary training based on courses more specifically pertinent to the research of individual students. Consequently the faculty relaxed the requirement of core courses. Today's curriculum is highly flexible, and largely left up to the students and their faculty advisors. Students are expected to participate annually in a special graduate seminar (cross-listed as Zoology, Botany, AOS, CEE and IES 911). Students are also strongly encouraged to take the similarly cross-listed Problems in Oceanography course. (Alumni often cite this course as a high point of their graduate career.)