Nearly 30 Bemidji State University faculty, staff, alumni and donors braved the cold to attend a dedication ceremony for BSU’s new Aquatic Biology Hardwater Lab held on Lake Bemidji on Feb. 15.

Built on an ice fishing house frame, the portable research lab is designed to give BSU students opportunities to conduct field research on Minnesota’s water resources year-round, including on frozen lakes. State-of-the-art solar panels and a unique solar furnace provide energy and heat to the lab without the need for external fuel sources.

After an introduction from BSU biology professor Dr. Debbie Guelda, a traditional Ojibwe honor song was performed by Red Lake tribal member, Don Kingbird, to recognize the individuals who provided guidance and financial support for the project and to honor students who will benefit from the use of the trailer.

Following remarks from BSU faculty and staff, President Faith Hensrud spoke to the impact the Aquatic Biology Hardwater Lab will have on students.

“This is not a novelty project. The Hardwater Lab has tremendous academic value and represents the character of the institution,” Hensrud said.

BSU faculty intend to use the lab to enrich aquatic biology, fisheries and chemistry courses and provide additional research opportunities to students. In early March, a group of students intend to use the lab to study burbot populations in a local Bemidji-area lake.

Donors, faculty and BSU Foundation staff were presented special ice fishing slush scoops, which were specially painted and used in place of gold shovels traditionally used in ground-breaking ceremonies.

The Hardwater Lab was made possible through generous donations from Dr. Darby and Geri Nelson and corporate partners including Glacier Fish Houses, RREAL, Ardisam, Innovative Office Solutions, MarCum, Ross Lewis Signs and LePier’s Shoreline & Outdoors. Additional funding was provided through the Minnesota State Leveraged Equipment Grant, which provides a direct match of private and corporate donations for equipment relating to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

Light refreshments were served at a special reception following the dedication ceremony in the fisheries research lab in Sattgast Hall.

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