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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Full Season Science in the Northwoods

This project provides UW’s Trout Lake Station (TLS) with the infrastructure to enable full-season science, and with the goal of making this facility an epicenter for winter environmental research. Year-round research is critical to maintaining healthy freshwater resources, yet most research on lakes and wetlands has been dominated by observations in the ice-free season (primarily summer). In 1925, TLS was founded in Vilas County, in Northern Wisconsin, as a field station for UW–Madison researchers to study the ecology and limnology of the Northwoods.

For 93 years, lake research originating from TLS has been at the forefront of the field of limnology, and has shaped how we manage lakes in Wisconsin and beyond. While TLS was built as a limnological field station, it has grown in scope, and hosts scientists from a variety of disciplines.

This project will allow for acquisition of vehicles and specialized sampling equipment that would be available to UW–Madison researchers to access lakes/wetlands and terrestrial environments in the winter. Two tracked amphibious all-terrain vehicles will enable researchers to reach study sites that are inaccessible via standard fleet vehicles and will be able to traverse lake ice during the shoulder seasons. Lake access during the shoulder seasons will fill a critical gap in our understanding of biogeochemistry, hydrology, and ecology that currently exists due to logistical sampling constraints.

Principal Investigator:

  • Hilary Dugan
    Assistant Professor of Limnology

Co-Principal Investigator:

  • Noah Lottig
    Research Scientist at the Center for Limnology


  • Ankur Desai
    Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
  • Katherine McMahon
    Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Bacteriology
  • Dan Preston
    Assistant Professor of Forestry and Wildlife
  • Emily Stanley
    Professor of Limnology