UMD aims to strengthen research programs

By KBJR News 1

June 8, 2011 Updated Jun 8, 2011 at 12:01 PM CDT

In a region proud of its protected environments and defined by its large shipping industry, there's little more destructive than invasive species.

"This harbor here in Duluth and Superior is one of the most invaded water bodies in the world," says Dr. Euan Reavie.

Dr. Reavie is a researcher with UMD's Natural Resources Research Institute.

With the assistance of graduate and doctoral students, Reavie's studying cleaning devices that will eliminate the high risk of ship's taking on ballast from one water body and releasing it into another.

This is just one UMD supported research project out of many, and it's exactly the kind of thing Chancellor Lendley Black wants to see more of.

"The way research plays into this is to have strong masters programs and doctorate programs as well as undergraduate programs, you need faculty engaged in research," says Black.

With fifty million dollars of external funding, UMD is already an impressive research institution.

So Vice Chancellor of Finance and Operations, Greg Fox, says they simply want to expand on what they already do well.

"What the plan is saying is that we can be better, we can even do more. So we will try and find the resources to support faculty as they look for research," says Fox.

Doctor Black says under the "Campus Action Plan", the University will capitalize on that by seeking more research funding, expanding the undergraduate research programs, focusing masters and doctorate research to better fit the university goals, and implementing more community based research. Research like that being done by Doctor Reavie at the Great Ships Initiative.

"We are ultimately helping the deciders decide what we need to do about the invasive species problem as it relates to shipping which is a major multi-billion dollar industry through-out the great lakes," says Reavie.

Dr. Black says focusing on projects that are important to the region, like the Great Ships initiative, is what they're good at, and will make the University thrive.

"We are trying to be the best at what we do well and carving out a distinctive niche for ourselves. That's part of what the strategic planning process was all about," says Black.