Brookby Foundation donates $1 million for UWM research vessel

NOW: Brookby Foundation donates $1 million for UWM research vessel

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will acquire the nation's most technologically advanced freshwater research vessel. 

The Brookby Foundation seeks to promote community well-being by supporting artistic and scientific literacy. The founders committed $1 million to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in support of the School of Freshwater Sciences’ new research vessel, which will be named the Maggi Sue.

The Maggi Sue will be the crown jewel of Great Lakes scientific exploration and advancement. 

“I am deeply grateful to our friends at the Brookby Foundation for their visionary support of our world’s most precious resource: fresh water. Tens of millions of people rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water, employment, energy production, shipping needs and recreational activities. These bodies of water have a profound effect on our economy and quality of life. The Brookby Foundation has stepped up to help preserve this precious natural resource," UWM Chancellor Mark Mone said.

The Maggi Sue will replace the old vessel, 'The Neeskay'. This was a converted Korean War-vintage Army T-boat purchased by UWM more than 50 years ago.

The new vessel will feature sensors that collect real-time data, interchangeable lab pods that can be swapped out based on the needs of the scientists, and a dynamic positioning system that will keep the vessel in place despite currents, wind and waves.

The Maggi Sue will also provide UWM students with a state-of-the art facility in the School of Freshwater Sciences. Officials say they'll be able to gain hands-on research experience on the Great Lakes. 

CBS 58 spoke with Maxwell Morgan. He is the acting captain of the current research vessel. He says the new ship will provide a better hands-on experience. 

"Students would get so much more out of it there's so much opportunity to do more research and provide a platform for learning and to collect data," said Morgan. 

The boat will have a wet and dry lab for experiments, a classroom and data visualization lab that will accommodate groups of students of all ages and sleeping accommodations that will allow scientists and crew to remain on the water for longer periods of time, gathering continuous readings without needing to return to shore.

Rebecca Klaper is the Vice Dean and Professor of the School of Freshwater Sciences with UWM. She says this donation is a big step toward making their fundraising efforts come to fruition. 

"We've raised $13 million out of a $20 million dollar goal with 27 donors I believe... which is fantastic. It really shows the support that we have for the research and doing something like this," said Klaper. 

Once fundraising is complete, construction of the vessel will take approximately two years. The vessel will be the largest 100% privately funded capital project in UWM’s history. To donate to the fund, click here

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