Great Ships Initiative




The Great Ships Initiative (GSI) is a regional effort devoted to ending the problem of ship-mediated invasive species in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System and globally. Since its establishment in 2006, the primary objective of GSI has been to accelerate research, development and implementation of effective ballast water management systems (BWMSs) on board ships like those that visit the Great Lakes region from abroad. Specifically, GSI provides independent status and certification testing services to developers of BWMSs at the bench-scale, i.e., laboratory scale; at a land-based facility; and on board ships. GSI performs status tests for BWMSs that are in the research and development stage. As part of US Coast Guard-certified "Independent Laboratories," GSI also carries out freshwater certification efficacy testing of market ready BWMSs. GSI partners with the University of Wisconsin-Superior, the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and AMI Consulting Engineers (Superior, Wisconsin) in accomplishing all of its testing and research activities. GSI certification testing for US Coast Guard decision-making, is carried out under the auspices of two "Independent Laboratories": NSF International (Ann Arbor, Michigan) and Control Union Certifications B.V.

GSI Organization

Ms. Allegra Cangelosi is the GSI Principal Investigator (GSI PI) and Director. A GSI Advisory Committee comprising elected leadership and top-level representatives of environmental organizations, Great Lakes port authorities, federal agencies from the United States and Canada, and industry representatives provides direct input to Ms. Cangelosi, advising on GSI award decisions, program direction, finances and fund-raising. The American Great Lakes Ports Association advises the project, assuring that GSI is meeting the needs of the maritime industry; and coordinates maritime industry and supply chain outreach. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin's Lake Superior Research Institute and the University of Minnesota-Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute, among others, provide critical scientific and technical expertise and implementation services to the GSI PI.

GSI also partners with NSF International (Ann Arbor, Michigan) and Control Union Certifications B.V. to conduct tests under the auspices of US Coast-Guard certified "Independent Laboratories."

GSI draws on advice from many technical advisors in protocol development, data analysis and to review applications for GSI services from time to time. The relationship with these advisors is informal, voluntary, and on an as-needed basis. Experts include marine engineers, process engineers, toxicologists, biologists and test facility operators. 

GSI Accomplishments and Impacts

Ship-mediated invasive species are an economic and environmental hazard throughout the water-wealthy northeast-midwest region. GSI is helping assure that effective policy and technology are in place to protect the region’s Great Waters. GSI was the first purpose built ballast treatment testing facility globally, and the first freshwater ballast treatment testing facility to receive US Coast Guard approval as an Independent Laboratory. GSI has since provided vital third-party freshwater performance information to vendors of BWMSs at all stages of development to support efficient exploration of a wide range of possible treatment solutions, and to help make product development as responsive as possible to the requirements of freshwater environments like the Great Lakes. In the five years since water started to flow at the GSI land-based facility, GSI has conducted over 19 comprehensive land-based tests on various BWMS prototypes, five shipboard tests of installed (temporarily or permanently) BWMSs, and more than 20 proof of concept tests at the bench-scale.  GSI developed and validated a sophisticated ship discharge monitoring system, and has installed and demonstrated permanent ship monitoring apparati in eight Great Lakes ships.  

Quality BWMS testing is critical to assuring real world BWMS performance. GSI teamed with other test facilities globally to raise the standard of testing, irrespective of salinity.  In particular, GSI led the movement to greater Quality Control/Quality Assurance (QAQC) in BWMS tests by developing, demonstrating and presenting on US Environmental Protection Agency-consistent QAQC practices applicable to BWMS testing.  GSI also has contributed to federal policy and program development by vetting proposed US Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental Technology Verification Program's draft shipboard and land-based protocols for the verification of ballast water management technologies. 

GSI Advisory Committee

A GSI Advisory Committee comprising top-level officials of key stakeholder groups advises on GSI award decisions, program direction, finances and fund-raising. The GSI Advisory Committee, which meets 3-4 times a year, includes elected leadership, environmental organizations, port directors and federal officials from the United States and Canada, and industry representatives. Current members include:

  • Mr. Will Friedman, Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority (Chair)
  • Mr. Vanta E. Coda II, Duluth Seaway Port Authority
  • Mr. Anthony Ianello, Illinois International Port District
  • Mr. John Loftus, Ports of Indiana
  • Mr. Larry Sullivan, Port of Milwaukee
  • Mr. Jody Peacock, Ports of Indiana
  • Mr. Mike Riehl, Toronto Port Authority
  • Ms. Brenda Sandberg, Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority
  • Mr. Georges Robichon, Fednav Group
  • Mr. Bud Streeter, Lloyd's Register
  • Ms. Mira Hube, Algoma Central
  • Mr. Noel Bassett, GATX Corporation
  • Mr. Tim Eder, Great Lakes Commission
  • Mr. Joel Brammeier, Alliance for the Great Lakes
  • Mr. Robert Lewis-Manning, Canadian Shipowners Association
  • Hon. Scott Walker (designee: Adrian Stocks), State of Wisconsin
  • Hon. Mark Dayton (designee: Jeff Stollenwerk), State of Minnesota
  • Hon. Andrew Cuomo (designee: Dave Adams), New York State
  • Hon. Rick Snyder (designee: Jon Allan), State of Michigan
  • Mr. Jason Serck, City of Superior, Wisconsin

Ex-officio committee members include:

  • Mr. Craig Middlebrook, St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.
  • Mr. Terrence Bowles, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.
  • Ms. Carolyn Junemann, U.S. Maritime Administration
  • Mr. Jack Faulk, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Dr. Richard Everett, U.S. Coast Guard
  • Mr. Craig Czarnecki, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

GSI Personnel

  • Ms. Allegra Cangelosi, GSI Principal Investigator and Director
  • Ms. Nicole Mays, GSI Senior Quality Systems Officer
  • Mr. Tim Serre, GSI Facilities and Logistics Manager
  • Dr. Mary Balcer, GSI Senior Zooplankton Scientist

Lake Superior Research Institute (LSRI)University of Wisconsin

  • Dr. Matt TenEyck, GSI Lead Investigator for Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) Tests & LSRI Team Leader
  • Ms. Kelsey Prihoda, GSI Senior QAQC Officer
  • Ms. Deanna Regan, GSI Chemist
  • Ms. Heidi Saillard, GSI Microbial Analyst
  • Ms. Heidi Schaffer, GSI Zooplankton Analyst
  • Ms. Lana Fanberg, GSI Zooplankton Analyst
  • Ms. Christine Polkinghorne, GSI Bench-Scale Analyst
  • Ms. Kimberly Beesley, GSI Assistant Microbial and Chemistry Analyst
  • Mr. Steve Hagedorn, GSI Database Manager

Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI), University of Minnesota-Duluth

  • Dr. Euan Reavie, GSI Senior Protist Scientist & NRRI Team Leader
  • Ms. Lisa Allinger, GSI Protist Analyst
  • Ms. Elaine Ruzycki, GSI Protist Analyst
  • Ms. Meagan Aliff, GSI Protist Analyst


  • Mr. Tyler Schwerdt (AMI Consulting Engineers PA), GSI Engineer
  • Mr. Gabe Sweet (AMI Consulting Engineers PA), GSI Assistant Engineer

GSI Funders

Funds to support the GSI have been assembled from the private sector, federal grants, Congressional appropriations, foundations, and states, and include contributions from:


© 2017.