Seed Funding


CIGLR provides seed funding for Regional Consortium members to initiate research on emerging issues and respond to emergencies in the Great Lakes. We broadened the former rapid fund program beyond its focus on emergency response to encompass work on emerging issues and research directions, to help provide the foundation for new research initiatives. Any principal investigator from the Regional Consortium may request seed funding.

Seed funding – request for proposals
There is no deadline for this opportunity.

Researchers Trevor Pitcher (back), Katelynn Johnson (middle), and Aaron Fisk (front) prepare high-tech buoys to deploy in the Detroit River channel between LaSalle and Fighting Island. Photo Credit: University of Windsor.

Current Rapid Awards

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Project Title: 2021 Rapid Funding Request: Winter Grab: A Multi-Institutional Great Lakes Winter Sampling Campaign

Key Project Personnel: Ted Ozersky (University of Minnesota Duluth)

About: Winter on the Great Lakes is rapidly changing. Predicting and managing the consequences of these changes is complicated by a scarcity of winter research on many limnological aspects of the Great Lakes ecosystem. Knowledge gaps include basic information on ice properties, water thermal and mixing regimes, concentrations of nutrients, and abundances of important organisms and their community dynamics. Recently, with support from CIGLR, a network of Great Lakes researchers (Great Lakes Winter Network; GLWiN) has coalesced around a common interest in winter and a set of priority research questions. This proposal will leverage GLWiN to address several urgent knowledge gaps about winter in the Great Lakes, including information about physical, chemical, and biological processes; help sustain existing momentum and interest in winter limnology among Great Lakes researchers by creating a common, collaborative project for the GLWiN community and support the long-term viability of this group; generate data that will be published in the peer-reviewed literature and used as preliminary information for follow-up proposals; and work with local media outlets to highlight this work and raise public awareness of the importance of Great Lakes winter research and collaborative science.

A multi-institutional coordinated winter sampling campaign will take place across a broad spatial and trophic status gradient in the nearshore of the Great Lakes. The project will include academic and government researchers, who will collect and analyze a standard set of samples during a 1-week period in late-February/ early-March of 2022. Sampling will include characterization of ice properties (thickness, light attenuation), water column physical and chemical conditions (temperature, clarity, conductivity, oxygen, nutrients, etc.), and biological patterns and processes (plankton biomass and community structure, primary and bacterial production rates). Eighteen research groups have expressed interest in participating in sampling and/or sample analyses. In addition to hands-on fieldwork at approximately 10 sites, the project will work with US and Canadian Drinking Water Treatment Plant (DWTP) operators to obtain samples of raw water for analysis of nutrient concentrations and phytoplankton biomass, increasing the spatial coverage of the project. 



LimnoTech | Ann Arbor, United States |Project Title: 2021 Rapid Funding Request: RNA/DNA Processing of Samples Collected near Lake Erie Drinking Water Intakes of Toledo and Cleveland

Key Project Personnel:  Edward Verhamme (LimnoTech) 

About: This past summer LimnoTech was able to work cooperatively with a private company, Environmental Quality Operations (EQO:, to test a new RNA/DNA sample collection and preservation system on Lake Erie. The Rapid Funds will be used to contract EQO to isolate RNA and DNA from the collected samples using a proprietary process to provide high yield and remove enzymatic inhibitors that are ubiquitous in environmental samples. EQO will further develop and produce primer/probe sets for use in quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays to analyze the expression level of toxin-related cyanobacteria genes of interest. These will include the microcystin family of genes (McyA through McyE), as well as the most common genes associated with anatoxin-a and saxitoxin production. Additionally, following isolation, an aliquot of the extracted RNA and DNA will be sent to Veracet Inc ( for whole-microbiome analysis using the proprietary PhyloChip microarray platform. The information collected from this process is intended to support determination of the risk of toxic event severity and serve as a proof-of-concept study to be expanded upon for development of a toxic event risk analysis and prevention forecast model in the future. Both companies are providing substantial discounts for this probe development exercise and are offering to collaborate with UM-CIGLR and NOAA-GLERL on development of future proposals and on the use of data generated by this probe development exercise.

LimnoTech views this project as a necessary step toward developing a viable future proposal to establish an RNA/DNA surveillance network that blends the capabilities and capacities of public research (NOAA-GLERL & UM-CIGLR), private expertise (EQO & LimnoTech), and needs of public water utilities (Toledo and Cleveland). LimnoTech has been a leader in tech transfer and direct integration of research into decision support systems for water utilities on Lake Erie. This includes the development and operation of an early warning real-time sonde network and inclusion of water utilities on multiple collaborative research proposals (ECOHAB, MERHAB, and hypoxia projects). LimnoTech has been the de facto operator of the Lake Erie water treatment plant sonde network since the Toledo water crisis in 2014. This has allowed LimnoTech to have routine access to install and maintain sensors in approximately 12 pump station facilities owned by utilities from Toledo to beyond Cleveland. The eventual goal is to expand the collection of preserved RNA/DNA samples that can either be analyzed rapidly (days) or on an as-needed retroactive basis using a cache of preserved samples. This will allow operators to determine how to rapidly adjust treatment approaches to changing raw water conditions to protect public health.



Project Title: 2021 Rapid Funding Request: DNA Analysis of Lake Superior Cyanobacterial Blooms

Key Project Personnel: Cody Sheik (University of Minnesota Duluth)

About: Cyanobacterial blooms have initiated earlier and to a greater extent across the western arm of Lake Superior. These blooms are contrary to previous blooms that are thought to be driven by heavy rainfall events (Sterner 2020), as Minnesota has been in a significant drought. The Sheik Lab has initially sampled the first bloom of the season on July 17, 2021 and have begun initial characterization of the organism (toxin analysis and microscopy), cultivation and stored filters for future DNA analysis. Currently the Sheik Lab has no funding in place to begin detailed DNA based assessment of the organism we observed. Previous work by the Sheik Lab on the cyanobacterial species from the 2018 bloom (Dolichospermum sp.) (Sheik in review), show that highly similar strains may or may not contain genes for microcystin production. Furthermore, the Sheik Lab has cultured a novel cyanobacterial species from Siskiwit Bay that looks similar to the Dolichospermum frequently observed in previous blooms but is proving to be quite toxic. Thus, using a genome-based approach the Sheik Lab will be able to compare this organism to the previous bloom of 2018 and cultured organisms and ultimately assess whether the genotype is capable of producing toxins. 

CIGLR Rapid Funds will be used for targeted sequencing of isolates from the bloom(s) and for generating metagenomes from the bloom and samples collected from Sheik Lab routine monitoring.