Catherine Riseng

Interim Director, Research Program Manager, and Associate Research Scientist


Dr. Catherine Riseng joined Michigan Sea Grant in May 2013. As Research Program Manager for Michigan Sea Grant, Riseng is involved in leading the statewide research program efforts on critical Great Lakes issues, such as sustainable coastal development, climate change adaptation, and other issues.

In July 2018, Riseng also began serving a one-year term as Michigan Sea Grant’s interim director after the retirement of Jim Diana.

As an Associate Research Scientist in the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, Riseng conducts research into broad range of ecological and environmental issues from how changes in land use hierarchically influence stream ecosystems to the effect of invasive species on the Great Lakes ecosystem. Her current research projects include multi-disciplinary, collaborative projects that link watershed landscape conditions to Great Lakes tributaries and coastal ecosystems.

Riseng is currently managing a collaborative research project called the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework (GLAHF). The main objective of this project is to develop an accessible spatial geodatabase for aquatic habitat in the Great Lakes basin. One component of the spatial database is the explicit linkage of Great Lakes tributaries, estuaries, and watershed land use stressors with Great lakes coastal and nearshore habitat. This spatial database will be used to develop a Great Lakes aquatic habitat classification. Future uses include food web, hydrological, and physicochemical modeling, and integrated modeling systems used for long-term forecasting.

Current Research

  • Developing a GIS database framework for the Great Lakes basin: the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework
  • Evaluating tipping points that impact Great Lakes coastal systems
  • Developing a causal model of the effects of urban and agricultural land use on stream ecosystems


  • Ph.D. Aquatic Ecology, 2001, University of Michigan
  • M.S. Biology, 1988, University of Michigan
  • B.A. Botany, 1975, University of Michigan

Previous Experience

Riseng has studied the competing effects of disturbance and nutrient regimes on streams across geomorphic regions of the U.S. She worked for a number of years on a large collaborative study of the Muskegon River watershed that included a baseline aquatic assessment and development of a habitat model for the river. She has been involved in conducting bioassessments of rivers of the Midwest and is currently developing causal models of the hierarchical effects of land use on stream ecosystems of the U.S. Prior to her appointment as an Assistant Research Scientist (2001) she worked as a Research Associate and prior to her Doctoral program as an environmental consultant developing environmental impact statements for state and federal projects.


  • Riseng, C.M., M.J., Wiley, R.W. Black, M.D. Munn. 2011. Impacts of agricultural land use on biological integrity: a causal analysis.  Ecological Applications 21(8): 3128-3146.
  • Barbiero, R.P., K. Schmude, B.M. Lesht, C.M. Riseng, G.J. Warren, and M.L. Tuchman. 2011. Trends in Diporeia populations across the Laurentian Great Lakes, 1997-2009.  J. of Great Lakes Research 37(1): 9-17.
  • Riseng, C.M., M.J., Wiley, R.J. Stevenson, P.J. Seelbach. 2010. An ecological assessment of Michigan rivers and streams. Journal of Great Lakes Research 36: 505-519.
  • Riseng, C. M., L. Wang, M.J. Wiley, E. Rutherford, and T. Brendon. 2008. State-of-the-Art Approaches for Assessment of Great Lakes Nearshore and Large River Habitat. Final report to Great Lakes Fishery Trust, U.S. EPA, and Great Lakes Fishery Commission.
  • Riseng, C.M., M.J., Wiley, R.J. Stevenson, P.J. Seelbach. 2006. Comparison of coarse versus fine scale sampling on statistical modeling of landscape effects on fish communities of the Muskegon River. Pages 555-576 in R.M. Hughes, L. Wang and P.W. Seelbach, editors. Landscape influences on stream habitats and biological assemblages. American Fisheries Society, Symposium 48, Bethesda, Maryland.

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