Joe Fitzgerald: From Plankton Guy to Water City Program Coordinator
. . . and from assistant custodian to research scientist.


Credit: Joe Fitzgerald

Wisconsin Sea Grant undergraduate student, Joe Fitzgerald, spent years working with Northland College Professor Randy Lehr collecting plankton. The collection was for Lehr’s research project on the Chequamegon Bay in Lake Superior.

Students in the center where Fitzgerald worked at the college were divided into four departments: lakes, streams, lab analysis, and plankton. With the distinction of being its only worker, “I’m the plankton department,” Fitzgerald used to joke. That status earned him the nickname of “The Plankton Guy.”

Fitzgerald graduated from Northland College with a double major in natural resources and geosciences.

In addition to his Chequamegon Bay plankton and water sampling, Fitzgerald had the opportunity to work on research projects involving dragonfly larvae collection at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Isle Royale National Park, Grand Portage National Park, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. He also studied sliver carp in the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers.

Fitzgerald now works for the Milwaukee Water Commons as a Water City Program Coordinator. 

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