Grant funds new courses, collaboration about water

Posted April 21, 2022

UW-River Falls will now offer more opportunities for students to learn about water with a $260,215 grant from the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin (FCW).

The grant is funding two new courses. Jill Coleman Wasik, associate professor of environmental science and campus FCW steering committee member, said one of the classes is Microbial Ecology, taught by Assistant Professor Lathadevi Chintapenta. It will be offered for the first time in fall 2022.

The other class will be transdisciplinary course involving students and faculty from many different backgrounds.

“The idea is to bring students from many different majors together to study one water-related issue in great depth,” Wasik said in an email. “We often approach issues like pollution of water from a scientific perspective, but water resources don’t exist in a scientific vacuum.”

The class will cover many different issues involving water and how to solve large-scale problems together in a team environment. The course will be offered spring semester of 2023 with faculty developing the curriculum this summer.

In regard to student enrollment numbers, Wasik said it’s hard to say how many people to expect.

“We hope for enough students from enough backgrounds to create a learning team,” Wasik said with the transdisciplinary course expecting approximately 15 to 20 students.

The grant also offers opportunities for more collaboration between nearby universities including UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout and UW-Oshkosh. The Western Wisconsin Advanced Freshwater Science Field Course will be offered beginning May 23.

The investment allow a hands-on learning experience for UW-River Falls students. Professor Holly Dolliver, chair of the Plant and Earth Science Department, is optimistic that this is the start of funding for incentives like this.

“This grant has the potential and power of training freshwater professionals,” said Dolliver.

The investment allows UW-River Falls and other recipients to lead efforts important to freshwater in the state, country and world, Dolliver said. Community members depend on freshwater every single day and there are challenges to solve with how the water is managed.

“I’m grateful to the state (of Wisconsin) for allocating these funds,” said Dolliver.

For more information about projects funded by the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin, visit the website