Maximizing the Value of Schoolship Data

Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA) has been conducting its Schoolship programs for over 30 years. On each program students turn into sailors, scientists, and stewards for the day as they help collect data while also hauling on lines and learning how to speak up or take action for the Great Lakes. There are many other vessel-based operations like this on the Great Lakes, however, ISEA is unique in that all of this collected information has been recorded, kept, and digitized. With 30+ years of scientific monitoring, and a program stronger than ever, the record has entered into the realm of being a decades-long dataset with unique potential to tell one part of the story of Grand Traverse Bay.

Wind gauge Secchi disk







As part of a larger effort currently underway, (outlined in the recently released ISEA 5-year Strategic Plan) ISEA is evaluating its entire science data process in order to set the stage for the next 30 years worth of data collection. In order to do this effectively, ISEA has teamed up with the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability, participating as a community client within Dr. Paul Seelbach’s theme-based course titled: Water Resources and Communities. A team of four Master’s students has been assembled to take this project to the next level over the course of this summer and the next academic school year. The project’s current working title is ‘Maximizing the value of Schoolship data: designing a long-term citizen science program for the twenty-first century.’ The goal of the project will be to assist ISEA in creating a robust, enduring science monitoring strategy that maximizes the value and use of the unique platforms available, while streamlining the process of collection and sharing.

In the current phase of the project, the student team will be observing (in-person) the programs in-action now through June, including both Schoolship and public programs. Next steps include both interviewing and meeting with volunteer instructors as well as diving into the previous 30 years worth of data that has been collected. Please join our staff in welcoming Brianna, Cecelia, Connor, and Xiao to Suttons Bay and the ISEA family. Anyone interested in learning more about the project can contact Jillian directly at

U of M Master’s Students Working on Project

Brianna Ellis
Master's Student womanBrianna is a master’s student at the University of Michigan studying Ecosystem Science and Geospatial Data Sciences. She will be working with Inland Seas this summer to investigate the Schoolship program’s data management and science strategy. After receiving a bachelor’s in biology from University of Michigan, Brianna worked as a health policy research assistant in northern Virginia. In her free time, Brianna enjoys baking, yoga, and taking nature walks.
Cecelia Batterbee
Master's Student womanCecelia will be working with ISEA this summer as part of a University of Michigan Master’s student research team investigating the Schoolship program’s data management process. Cecelia received her Bachelor of Science in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Science from the University of Michigan in 2020, and is currently continuing her education at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability for a Master’s in Ecosystem Science & Management. She loves all things outdoors and has a particular passion for algae and the impact of nutrients on aquatic ecosystems. In her free time she can be found running, rock climbing, or enjoying the beauty of Lake Michigan’s coastline.
Connor Roessler
Masters Student manConnor will be working with ISEA as part of a Master’s student research team from the University of Michigan this summer, investigating the Schoolship program’s data management process. Connor received his Bachelors of Science degree in Environmental Science from the University of Virginia before spending time as an environmental outreach fellow in Maryland and a watershed educator in West Virginia. He is now at the University of Michigan’s School for the Environment and Sustainability studying for his Master of Science Degree in Behavior, Education, and Communication. Having grown up in the Mid-Atlantic, Connor is new to Michigan and enjoys spending his free time exploring the local flora and fauna on hikes and exploring the local cuisine at the farmers market.
Xiao Qin

Masters student male

I grew up in an urban area in Beijing, China but still have a long fascination with fish and biology since I was young. I earned a degree in biological sciences from University of Pittsburgh. Through my undergraduate study, I have found interest in ecology and environmental sciences. After taking a gap year and volunteering in Florida, I got accepted into University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability. Currently, I am in the UM research team working with ISEA to find the best database management strategy.

In my free time, I love to experiment with cooking and explore trails. It is my pleasure to meet everyone!

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