Researchers from eight Ohio universities are leading the latest round of projects supported by the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s (ODHE) ongoing Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative (HABRI).

Previous HABRI projects have increased the tools and technologies needed to remove algal toxin entering water treatment plants, validated on-field and watershed management recommendations the department of agriculture gives producers and helped agencies more fully understand what drives bloom formation, how to detect bloom presence and how toxins impact humans and move through the ecosystem.

This most recent round of projects will not only focus on state agency priorities related to harmful algal blooms, but they will also inform ongoing efforts associated with Governor DeWine’s H2Ohio Water Quality Initiative. Agencies engaged in setting priorities and shaping projects include: Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Department of Health, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Lake Erie Commission.

“Lake Erie is an invaluable resource for our state, and we have a responsibility through our research projects and H2Ohio to do all we can to preserve it and protect it,” said ODHE Chancellor Randy Gardner. “I’m pleased that our university researchers continue to collaborate and serve as leaders in this endeavor.”

“After more than five years of work, we know HABRI is successful, both as a funding model and as a way to encourage collaboration between university scientists and government agencies,” said Dr. Kristen Fussell, assistant director of research and administration for Ohio Sea Grant. “This selection of new funded projects continues that approach and will be similarly impactful to Ohio’s water quality.”

Researchers continue to lead projects in four focus areas:

• Track Blooms from the Source: Dragan Isailovic (The University of Toledo), Laura Johnson (Heidelberg University), Craig Williamson (Miami University).

• Produce Safe Drinking Water: Teresa Cutright (The University of Akron), Tim Davis (Bowling Green State University), Dionysios Dionysiou (University of Cincinnati), Dragan Isailovic (The University of Toledo), Youngwoo Seo (The University of Toledo).

• Protect Public Health: Soryong Chae (The University of Toledo), David Haller (The University of Toledo), Steven Kennedy (The University of Toledo), Stu Ludsin (The Ohio State University).

• Engage Stakeholders: Steve Culman (The Ohio State University), Kennedy Doro (The University of Toledo), James Hood (The Ohio State University), Margaret Kalcic (The Ohio State University), Melanie Marshall (Wright State University), Jon Witter (The Ohio State University), Ryan Winston (The Ohio State University).

“HABRI projects have paid dividends for Ohio, helping to guide the state’s resources where they will be most effective in mitigating and preventing harmful algal blooms now and in the future,” said Dr. Thomas Bridgeman, professor of ecology at The University of Toledo, director of the University of Toledo’s Lake Erie Center and co-chair of the Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative. “In addition, HABRI projects have provided a springboard for large federally funded HAB projects led by Ohio researchers and involving collaborators from across the country and beyond, making Ohio an international leader in HAB research.”

To date, since 2015, a total of $14 million in funding has been made available through ODHE to support 85 HABRI projects. Matching funding from participating Ohio universities increases the total investment to more than $28 million, demonstrating the state’s overall commitment to addressing the harmful algal bloom issue.

Information about HABRI projects, partner organizations, and background on the initiative is available on the Ohio Sea Grant website at HABRI is overseen by The Ohio State University and The University of Toledo, with Ohio Sea Grant providing proposal coordination and ongoing project management.

The Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant College Program is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 34 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources. For more information, visit