Volunteers help hatch eggs and raise Piping Plover young.

Environment and Sustainability

Environmental research at the University continues to focus on key areas including water quality, forest conservation, sustainable cropping systems, controlling waste water and agricultural run-off, and exploring opportunities presented by renewable energy sources.

For information on the latest environment and sustainability research please visit the features and impacts page.


U of M research is focused on defining a balance between food production and environmental impact. From converting wind energy to increasing biodiversity to animal waste management, University scientists are exploring the best ways to utilize sustainable practices that will work for producers and consumers. 


Minnesota is home to over 17 million acres of forest. Research pertaining to forestry affects two key economic sectors in Minnesota: tourism and forest products.

Water Quality

Researchers test agronomic, ecological, and engineering approaches to manage agricultural run-off and chemical usage. Water resources research helps identify best practices and new technologies to implement across Minnesota and beyond.

Climate Change

University scientists explore the issue of climate change in a variety of ways from floods to droughts to forests and wildlife. Our long-term research project in the Boundary Waters Recreational Area is now complemented by research at the Cloquet Forestry Center and the Hubacheck Research Center.

Pandas are one of most beloved and most endangered animals on the planet but their future is far from certain. U of M researchers, using genetic analysis methods often used for livestock, analyzed wild and captive panda populations in China.

Euarasian watermilfoil has long been a concern for aquatic invasive species professionals, but researchers at the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center were interested to see what was happening with Hybrid watermilfoil in Minnesota's lakes. Two key questions they had: (1) How different is the genetic makeup of Northern watermilfoil (a native plant), Eurasian watermilfoil and Hybrid watermilfoil? and (2) Can we use the same control techniques we use for Eurasian watermilfoil to control Hybrid watermilfoil?

U of M researchers in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering wanted to find a solution to the long-term issue of high levels of mercury concentrations in some Minnesota waters. Building on research done with nanoparticles, they developed a sponge that can remove over 99.9 percent of mercury for contaminated water.