Program and People News

New Wisconsin Sea Grant Social Scientist

Wisconsin Sea Grant’s former (and first) social scientist, Jane Harrison, departed for North Carolina Sea Grant last year. In a trade-off by chance, the program’s new social scientist, Deidre Peroff, arrived here in February from North Carolina. Peroff worked as a social research assistant for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission in Raleigh and brings a wealth of experience to her new job from across the U.S. and even internationally.

Although she grew up near Kansas City, Kan., Peroff’s academic roots are at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in geography, people and the environment. After working in environmental education for several years in Mississippi and southern California, Peroff moved to Boston, where she worked as a research assistant for the Harvard University Forest. That experience sparked her interest in social science research, and her boss, noted conservationist Jim Levitt, encouraged Peroff to pursue a master’s degree.

“I knew I wanted to focus on social science,” Peroff said. “Most environmental problems are really people problems. You have to talk to people and assess their awareness of these problems. My experiences in different parts of the country have been eye-opening in terms of differences in how people think about natural resources, how they relate to them, and the concerns they have, or the lack of concerns or knowledge they have about environmental issues.”

Peroff’s continued academic success and interest in social science brought her to North Carolina State University where she is in the final stages of completing her Ph.D. in the department of parks, recreation and tourism management. Her dissertation focused on how locals’ involvement in tourism related small businesses can support livelihoods and environmental stewardship in underserved communities.

Along her path she has worked often with coastal communities. Peroff is looking forward to focusing more on water issues, and she’s excited to get back to the Midwest.

“I’m looking forward to learning more about the different problems in the Great Lakes and how people use coastal resources,” Peroff said. “I have a lot to learn but I have a lot to give, too.”

Peroff started work this February at the Sea Grant office in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences.

She can be reached at

The Lake Sturgeon Bowl
Where Numbers Other Than the Final Score Matter

In any competition, numbers matter — it’s the final score that often captures people’s attention. The 2016 Lake Sturgeon Bowl was no exception. Sure, the final score of 49 Marshfield High School and 44 Shorewood High School was noticed, but some different sets of numbers were also a highlight of the competition that is a qualifying round for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl taking place this spring in North Carolina.

Also of note were the nearly 70 volunteers who make things tick. Pictured above is Fran Luebke (middle photo, right), who has been a volunteer for the event for every single one of the 15 years that the bowl has existed in Wisconsin. It attracts high- schoolers from around the state to a combination buzzer-round and team analysis on all facts related to water to encompass the biological, physical and social sciences.

Luebke and six others were honored for that 15-year string of service. They, and their fellow 2016 volunteers, fulfill roles such as science judge, rules judge and moderator. Scorekeepers, time-keepers and runners are also invaluable to the event. One of the event coordinators, Katie Wipfli, is pictured above (right photo).

One final number to call out would be the 16 young people who themselves were Lake Sturgeon Bowl competitors in prior years. A group spanning in age from their early to late 20s addressed this year’s students, explaining what paths they took beyond high school. Most had gone into science-related fields and all were inspiring.

Scaling the Summit

Minds met, partnerships were forged and much delicious local seafood was consumed at the inaugural Eat Wisconsin Fish Summit, hosted by Wisconsin Sea Grant Jan. 13 in Sheboygan.

A total of 63 attendees, a group that included fish farmers, chefs, retailers, commercial fishers and local food enthusiasts, convened to learn about the ever-growing movement to support and eat locally caught and raised fish. The event’s experts panels in particular were a big hit.

“We had a lot of deep discussion and it was great because of the mix of people we had,” said Kathy Kline, Wisconsin Sea Grant education outreach coordinator and one of the event’s primary organizers. “For instance, chefs and retailers were surprised to learn that most of the fish caught in the Great Lakes aren’t consumed here — they’re shipped out East. “

The Eat Wisconsin Fish Summit was scheduled to coincide with the annual Wisconsin Local Food Summit, also held in Sheboygan, to synergize audiences interested in supporting local food. Kline said she’s planning to make the summit an annual event and hopes to involve the Lakeshore Culinary Institute, the culinary school that prepared Wisconsin seafood dishes for the summit’s reception, as a future partner.

New Two-Year Cycle of Sea Grant Research Projects

Sea Grant will fund 16 new research and education projects and three ongoing in 2016-18.

Jennifer Hauxwell, assistant director for research and student engagement, said, “We received a record number of proposals this year submitted either to our base focus areas or to one of our special calls, including a joint call with Minnesota and one with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, as well as our first ever call for Integrated Assessments to tackle some of society’s most difficult natural resources challenges.”

There were 83 research preproposals and 49 full proposals. Along the path to funding, each of those proposals — whether in the initial or the full stage — was a regional and international expert vetting of ideas, methodologies and outreach plans. The Sea Grant Advisory Council also provided a perspective on relevance to Great Lakes and Wisconsin-specific needs.

The work will be carried out on six campuses and involves nearly three dozen principal and co-investigators. Additionally, the Wisconsin Historical Society will conduct underwater archaeological investigations of two shipwrecks and the effects of invasive mussels and changing water levels on the wrecks.

Each proposal falls into a broadly defined category. Those categories are healthy coastal ecosystems, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, resilient communities and economies, and environmental literacy and workforce development. Some project examples are: the optimum means to grow walleye through aquaculture, a genetically based examination of the Lake Michigan food web, an analysis of the success and shortcomings of urban green infrastructure projects, improving on flash flood forecasting and the power of underwater photography for at-risk teenagers.

Send an email to with “RFP mailing list” in the subject line to be added to the mailing list for future Sea Grant or Water Resources Institute requests for proposals.

The Aquatic Sciences Center is the administrative home of the
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute & University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute.

©2011 University of Wisconsin Board of Regents