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Muskies Inc. Partners with Sea Grant to Award $1,000 Scholarship
Elizabeth Alexson's research on sediment cores in the St. Louis River estuary paved the way to a hefty scholarship.
The Lake Superior Chapter of Muskies, Inc., and the University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program have awarded $1,000 to Elizabeth Alexson. Alexson earned both this scholarship and a master’s degree in Water Resources Science from the University of Minnesota Duluth in July for revealing aspects of the St. Louis River estuary’s environmental history through sediment cores.
"It is exciting to be part of research that can enlighten and engage people by letting them get a glimpse of what goes on underneath the water," said Alexson, who is now working as a research assistant at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI).
Upon scrutinizing the pigments and relics of algae within seven sediment cores, Alexson and her advisor, NRRI Senior Research Associate Euan Reavie, found evidence supporting other studies indicating that water quality has been improving in the estuary since the 1970s. Their analyses hint at ongoing water quality challenges in some nearshore areas. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will factor this study into policy decisions about the river, part of which has been listed as a Great Lakes Area of Concern since 1987.
Alexson, whose research was supported by Sea Grant and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, expects to pursue a doctoral degree but, for now, she is happy to be part of the Twin Port’s vibrant science community. "I want to make the most of this chance to see the environment in a different way," she said. Alexson intends to use the scholarship money to pay down student loans.
"This scholarship program is a great fit for us," said Keith Okeson, President of the Lake Superior Chapter of Muskies, Inc. "Though Muskellunge bring us together, any work to understand ecosystem function and develop sound conservation practices supports our goals. It kind of feels like it helps us the most."
Look for more information about this and Minnesota Sea Grant’s other paleolimnology studies on the program’s website (www.seagrant.umn.edu). Minnesota Sea Grant is a University of Minnesota and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration partnership committed to delivering science-based solutions that address Minnesota's coastal challenges.
Also, consider attending the October meeting of the Lake Superior Chapter of Muskies, Inc., where Alexson will be likely be presenting. “As is true of all our meetings, everyone is welcome,” said Okeson. Log on to the Lake Superior Chapter of Muskies, Inc., for details (www.lakesuperiormuskies.com)