Great Lakes Great Endeavors

Najee Walker, Reporter

The Great Lakes Center at SUNY Buffalo State received a $150,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Fund earlier this month to repair and remodel its boat ramps.

Among SUNY Buffalo State’s research facilities, the Great Lakes Center is one of the most prominent. Housed in the Science and Mathematics Complex, the Great Lakes Center researches different factors affecting the five Great Lakes.

Founded in the 1990’s, the Great Lakes Center not only studies the lakes, but also attempts to find and solve issues plauging the lakes’ ecosystem.

The current director of the center is Alexanader Karatayev. He said the center received a lot of help from undergraduate students on campus.

“They are a great help for us,” Karatayev said. “They bring in at least several hundred samples.” Karatayev said that many undergraduate students who volunteer or otherwise work with the Great Lakes Center also get to do hands on lab work as well.

Knut Mehler, a post-doctoral research scientist who began working in the center in April, investigates the habitat use of sturgeon and bottom feeder organisms located in the lower Niagara River.

Extensive mapping and research goes into this kind of project, but Mehler said that it’s because it’s so extensive that he truly enjoys the work.

“The work is so diverse,” he said. “I get to do a lot of field and lab work.”

Based in Western New York, the center also works with other centers around the area and studies their rivers and ecosystems. Andrea Locke, coordinator of the Western New York Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management, or WNY PRISM, began working with the Great Lakes Center at the start of the year.

“I’m always looking for people to help map invasive species,” Locke said. “It is pretty straightforward and I can either suggest some areas to map, or folks can head out right in their neighborhood.”

Locke and WNY PRISM use an online database known as “iMapInvasives” ( to map invasive species in Western New York. Students interested in helping with WNY PRISM would be using that very same website. Locke said she is always looking for help with outreach and education efforts to help prevent invasive species.

The Great Lakes Center received other grants throughout the year to help with its endeavors, most of which were from the Environmental Protection Fund. The center will get a $500,000 grant each year for a detailed summer research study of a designated lake. This summer, Lake Erie was the focus lake and next summer the plan is to study Lake Michigan.

Beginning about two years ago, the Great Lakes Center began working alongside Cornell University in a long-term monitoring program called the “EPA Monitoring Program,” designed to monitor all five Great Lakes.

The program has received a $4 million grant to help both Cornell University and Buffalo State. This particular program will continue until 2017.

The Great Lakes Center has an upcoming seminar during Bengal Pause September 25th in Science Building 272, as well as an international confrence about the Great lakes coming in October.

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