Student Opportunities

GLISA is dedicated to training and mentoring students to provide real-world experience applying climate information to decision making in the Great Lakes region.

Photo: GLISA Climatologists and Graduate Students celebrating after a successful 2018 Great Lakes Adaptation Forum


GLISA student work can include customizing historical and future climate information for a particular location or variable, researching and performing new data analysis techniques, directly engaging with practitioners to meet their information needs, and supporting GLISA’s suite of ongoing projects and communications. Opportunities are available for students at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. Though most of the students we work with are at the graduate level, opportunities may be available to outstanding and motivated undergraduate students. There are four different opportunities for students to work with GLISA.

For more information on GLISA’s work, please contact Program Manager Jenna Jorns (

Types of Opportunities

Masters of Engineering in Applied Climate

GLISA has enjoyed a long partnership with the University of Michigan’s Applied Climate master’s program in the College of Engineering Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering (CLaSP) Department. As part of the master’s degree program, the students must complete an applied practicum, many of which are under the leadership and advisement of GLISA staff. The practicums are directly related to the active work that GLISA is doing in the region, which allows the students to gain real-world experience in the field of applied climate.

Example projects include:

  • Using climate change scenario planning to explore management at Isle Royale National Park and the Fort Custer Training Center
  • Localizing climate information for the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum to develop an adaptation toolkit for small businesses
  • Sustained assessment of the scientific knowledge of how Great Lakes water levels and lake ice will change
  • Performing an analysis of freezing rain for the region
  • Supporting GLISA’s Great Lakes Ensemble project by evaluating downscaled climate models for their appropriateness for the region, engaging with the project’s Stakeholder Working Group, and developing decision-support products for practitioners
  • Integration of lake and land observations into a consistent dataset to study coupled processes
  • Customizing climate information for a vulnerability assessment for the National Park Service at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Interested students can learn more on the CLASP website or by reaching out to GLISA Professor Richard Rood (

Hourly work

As temporary employees, GLISA can support students on an hourly basis during the semester and/or the summer at either the University of Michigan or Michigan State University. Students may work on a dedicated project, support multiple projects, or support our communications depending on GLISA’s needs at the time of employment. Students interested in summer work should reach out early in the winter/spring semester to learn about possible opportunities.

Graduate Student Research Assistants

Limited opportunities are available for GLISA to hire graduate students as graduate student research assistants at either the University of Michigan or Michigan State University. These appointments provide tuition and stipend support for students to work with GLISA for 20 hours/week during an academic semester.


“The GLISA team was instrumental in providing the science, then also having someone to interpret that science. It’s really valuable to have a funder as a partner who is also providing targeted expertise.”

Angela Larsen, Director of Planning, Alliance for the Great Lakes

“The translational tools and skills from GLISA were essential to better connecting climate information to Tribal needs and interests. This model for supporting tribal climate decision making has extended into our other work and allowed for expanded support for tribes throughout the Northeast Climate Science Center region.”

Chris Caldwell, Director, Sustainable Development Institute at the College of Menominee Nation

“GLISA continues to play a vital role across the Great Lakes basin in driving best practices, building a broad network of climate change stakeholders, and in developing excellent guidance which enables resilient decision making by practitioners.”

Glenn Milner, Climate Risk Institute

“We turned to GLISA because of the funding at first, and it was a surprise how much they approached working with grantees as partners. At first, it was about funding. I wasn’t aware ahead of time about how much richer the partnership would be than with our typical funder.”

Deborah Kleinman, Implementation Coordinator & Module Leader, Model Forest Policy Program