New MSU Extension educator joins Michigan Sea Grant in the Upper Peninsula

Dr. Martha Gerig will work with communities and businesses to apply science-based knowledge to address Great Lakes issues in Delta and Marquette counties.

Dr. Martha Gerig has joined MSU Extension and Michigan Sea Grant to serve as an educator in central Upper Peninsula. She began her new position on Sept. 30, 2019.

Gerig will divide her time between the two Extension offices in Delta and Marquette counties, working to apply science-based knowledge to address Great Lakes issues. Her focus areas include coastal resiliency, environmental change, and fisheries.


Paul Putnam, Michigan State University Extension district director for nine counties located the western U.P., said having Gerig located in Delta County, as well as Marquette County, offers more accessibility for residents and communities. “We’re pleased to have Dr. Gerig join our Extension team in the U.P. We know there are many opportunities for educational programming, partnering and collaborations. This is a new position for Sea Grant and MSU Extension and we are looking forward to Dr. Gerig working on Great Lakes issues with our many partners and communities.”

Michigan Sea Grant helps foster economic growth and protect Michigan’s coastal Great Lakes resources through education, research and outreach. A collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, Michigan Sea Grant is part of MSU Extension and the NOAA National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs.

“I am excited to really dive in deep to this area of the Upper Peninsula,” Gerig said. “My research has been in rivers, streams, lakes – not only knee deep, but waist deep and chest deep – learning about land use around these critical water systems and how we can better manage the land to better take care of the water in a sustainable way. But remember, when we think of sustainability, it’s not only ecological but also for our local economy.”

Gerig is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, earning both a bachelor of science degree in environmental science and a Ph.D. in biological sciences there. She did extensive outreach and communications around freshwater resources and human impact in both urban and rural communities. Gerig has extensive lab and field experience in aquatic ecology, including fish and invertebrate population assessments, eDNA collection, large river water quality metrics, and habitat restoration.

It was an extended backcountry kayaking excursion in the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron in her teenage years that helped form Gerig’s career choice. “It was then that I realized how powerful the Great Lakes are as a system - not only as a physical resource, but as a regional identity. From then on I knew that water would be my future.”

Dr. Gerig’s expertise, experiences and focus on outreach and communication will offer communities an excellent resource for exploring water quality and resiliency issues, said Erin Carter, MSU Extension district director for the eastern U.P. counties. “We’re happy to have her join our Extension team in the U.P.”

Gerig and her husband, Dr. Brandon Gerig, have been living in the U.P. since he took a position at Northern Michigan University about a year ago. “I enjoy winter and cross-country skiing,” Dr. Martha Gerig said, “But when we had 23 inches of snow in April, I quickly understood my new reality as a recent transplant to the U.P.” The Gerigs also enjoy fishing and hiking, as well as canoeing inland lakes and streams.

“Martha brings a wide range of experience that will benefit the communities in the U.P,” said Dr. Heather Triezenberg, Michigan Sea Grant program leader. “We look forward the new ideas and opportunities she will offer.”

Science can only go so far unless it’s communicated, and communicated well, to the greatest number of people possible, according to Gerig. “‘Science serving society’ is one of my favorite mantras,” she said. “I’m looking forward to helping communicate science to the public. There is such a great awareness around water resources, environmental change, and coastal resources here. It’s a great place to be at a pivotal time.”

Contact info:

Martha Gerig, Ph.D.

MSU Extension Marquette County

  • 184 US-41, Negaunee, MI 49866

 MSU Extension Delta County

  • 2840 College Ave, Escanaba, MI 49829

This article was prepared by MSU under award NA14OAR4170070 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce through the Regents of the University of Michigan. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Commerce, or the Regents of the University of Michigan.

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