By Adam Hinterthuer and Moira Harrington
Water covers 70% of the earth’s surface and makes up the majority of our bodies. Its use, quality and availability are some of the most critical issues facing our world today.
Water is also a critical area of research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, a fact that can be lost on some observers because water-related research is scattered across dozens of departments, colleges, centers and institutes on campus.
A new website, called “Water @ UW-Madison” (www.water.wisc.edu) brings these streams of research together in one place.
“This campus plays host to amazing innovation centered on water,” said Anne Moser, who directs Wisconsin’s Water Library. “With water.wisc.edu, we raise the profile of what we do on this campus, link up researchers at other institutions with our innovation and attract students who will train as society’s future water managers.”
Wisconsin’s Water Library includes more than 30,000 titles on water-related topics. The material is available to any resident of the state. The library is based at the Aquatic Sciences Center, home of the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute and the Water Resources Institute.
Water @ UW-Madison highlights the breadth and depth of water-related work on the state’s flagship campus and serves as the first stop for anyone interested in water research. It introduces visitors to faculty and staff studying a diverse array of topics: from things like water quality and invasive species, to climate change, stormwater runoff and water policy. Graduate students can search for departments offering courses and degrees that fit their interests and staff and faculty can search for colleagues working on topics complementary to their own.
Jake Vander Zanden, a professor at the Center for Limnology, hopes this aspect of the website will facilitate greater interdisciplinary collaboration and exploration. Water will be one of the biggest issues facing humanity in the coming century, Vander Zanden said. It is becoming increasingly scarce on a planet with expanding populations, and yet, he said, “Clean, plentiful water is fundamental to the present and future health of our economies and environments. We want to ensure that UW-Madison continues to play a growing role in providing solutions for Wisconsin and the rest of the world.”
Freshwater research has a long and storied tradition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, Wisconsin researchers have been pioneers in disciplines like groundwater hydrology, water chemistry, and limnology (the study of inland waters) on the shores of Madison’s lakes. More than 100 years later, the campus continues to boast world-renowned freshwater scientists and serve as a hotbed for new ideas and innovative research.
Water @ UW-Madison hopes to keep this tradition alive and well while highlighting the continued excellence in freshwater research at UW-Madison and fostering new areas of study on the world’s most important resource.