By Alberta Darling

As the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System meets at the UW-Milwaukee campus this week, it is important to recognize UWM’s status as a “Research 1” university. Earlier this year, UWM was designated as one of only 115 “Research 1” doctoral universities in the country by the prestigious Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. This means that UWM ranks in the top 2% of research universities in the nation.


In Wisconsin, only UWM and UW-Madison have received the “highest research activity” rating. Other institutions with this elite status include Yale, the University of Michigan, Harvard and Duke. The next budget will be a great opportunity to help make sure UWM is in position to help Wisconsin thrive.

One of our greatest successes revolves around water. Wisconsin is a world leader in freshwater research due, in part, from an investment by the Legislature. In September of 2014, UWM opened the School of Freshwater Sciences, the largest water-focused academic research institution on the Great Lakes and the only school of its kind in North America.

I have visited the school and seen what a difference this investment has made. Multiple corporations license from UWM a hand-held sensor that can measure contaminants and heavy metals at low concentrations, using just a single drop of water.

This type of technology could have alerted officials in Flint, Mich., the minute contamination occurred. This sensor can help protect the millions of Americans who get water from lead pipes. UWM also is commercializing fish farming. A spinoff company is providing fish to small businesses, which then produce perch for the seafood industry.

The UWM Research Foundation was created in 2005 to bring UWM research to the marketplace. It has been a resounding success. Patents have grown eightfold and license agreements have quadrupled in just the last five years. This ability to commercialize UWM’s research produces jobs and grows our economy.

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