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Lake Superior State University set to break ground on Great Lakes research center

LSSU/SmithGroup JJR

Lake Superior State University breaks ground this week on a new facility to study Great Lakes ecosystems.

Ashley Moerke is a professor at LSSU and the director of the Center for Freshwater Research and Education. She says the university has been planning this research center since about 2005, but recent funding from the state has been the key to making their vision a reality.

She says the 18,000 square foot building will be located on the banks of the St. Mary's River in Sault Ste. Marie.

"If you're not familiar with it, the St. Mary's River is the only outflow of Lake Superior, and then it feeds into lakes Huron and Michigan,” Moerke says. “So it's in a really prime location to be studying freshwater."

The center is going to provide community, educational, and research spaces.

“And that'll include a Great Lakes visitors' center that'll be open to the public, a discovery center which is going to hold engaging, hands-on activities for pre-K through 12 groups, and then we'll also have some experimental research facilities and analytical laboratories for our own Lake State scientists as well as visiting scientists that'll be working on research with us,” Moerke says.

She says the center is expected to open in 2020 and cost about $13.1 million. The state will be providing just under $9 million of that amount, with the university fundraising to obtain the remaining funds.

The ceremonial groundbreaking is scheduled for Friday at noon.

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Radio’s Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.