Chesterton Tribune

Lake Michigan E. coli research brings award for two local scientists

Back to Front Page





Two scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Lake Michigan Ecological Research Station in Porter have been honored for their efforts to develop a real-time means of estimating E. coli concentrations in beach waters.

Meredith Nevers and Richard Whitman have received the prestigious James W. Moffett Award from the Great Lakes Science Center for their paper entitled “Nowcast modeling of Escherichia coli concentrations at multiple urban beaches of southern Lake Michigan,” published in the scientific journal Water Research.

The Great Lakes Science Center, a facility of the U.S. Geological Survey, is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich., and operates eight field stations around the Great Lakes, including the Lake Michigan Ecological Research Station. The Great Lakes Science Center established the Moffett Award to recognize the best scientific publication authored or co-authored by its personnel each calendar year, and Nevers and Whitman’s paper was chosen from more than 50 submitted.

In that paper Nevers and Whitman develop a mathematical model to predict E. coli concentrations in beach water. That model provides real-time estimates of contamination and so improves on the current test, whose results are not available for at least 24 hours. The model has been refined over the past three years and is currently in use as a management tool at Ogden Dunes, Wells, Marquette, and Lake Street beaches, as part of what has been dubbed Project SAFE (Swimming Advisory Forecast Estimate).

A link to the Project SAFE beach advisory website is provided at

Nevers and Whitman’s “paper is cutting-edge science in large-scale ecological modeling,” Leon Carl, director of the Great Lake Science Center, told the Chesterton Tribune. “It is of tremendous value to society to be able to predict when a beach should be open or closed. Now we rely on yesterday’s results which often no longer apply. The paper is such great value to the Center that it was chosen from over 50 published papers in 2005.”

Nevers and Whitman’s Moffett Award is the third presented to scientists at the Lake Michigan Ecological Research Station. Whitman received one in 2006 for a paper on beach modeling at a Chicago beach, and Noel Pavlovic and Ralph Grundel received a Moffett Award in 1998 for a paper on the Karner blue butterfly.

All scientific papers on the Great Lakes and surrounding watershed generated from research forming a part of the Great Lakes Science Center’s program and appearing in peer-reviewed publication during a calendar year are eligible for consideration. The Moffett Award is named in honor of James William Moffett (1908-67), a former director of the Center and internationally known for research to control the sea lamprey.


Posted 9/5/2007