BGSU christens new research vessel, 'RV Ziggy'

Vessel made possible by generous gift from alumni Patrick L. and Debra Scheetz Ryan and the Ryan Family Foundation

ryans ziggy boatBGSU President Rodney Rogers with Jennifer Ryan, Debra Scheetz Ryan and Patrick L. Ryan.Bowling Green State University christened a new research vessel Oct. 23 that will support the University’s water quality research efforts on Lake Erie through the Center for Great Lakes and Watershed Studies.

The 28-foot vessel, dubbed the “RV Ziggy,” was made possible by a generous gift from BGSU alumni Patrick L. and Debra Scheetz Ryan and the Ryan Family Foundation.

The RV Ziggy will bolster BGSU’s mission of supporting the public good by accelerating the University’s research presence and activity on the lake, helping faculty and student lead national efforts to improve water quality.

The Ryans, both 1974 graduates, have had a long relationship with biological sciences at BGSU and are responsible for an endowed professorship in biology. The couple has followed the research work of the University, which has focused much of its attention on the unique and vital ecosystem in Sandusky Bay. BGSU is the only university focused on the Bay, an important area for Ohio’s tourism and leisure industry. With more than 11 million annual visitors generating almost 14,000 jobs, $357 million wages and $255 million in taxes, much of it related to water sports and recreation, the economic impact of the region is significant.

“Support from individuals like the Ryans make it possible for us to respond to and address important societal problems and create public good,” BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers said. “The RV Ziggy will energize and extend the reach of our research on harmful algal blooms occurring in our own backyard – and through research comes the understanding and prevention of this threat to the health of humans and wildlife.”

Dr. Tim Davis, the Patrick L. and Debra Scheetz Ryan Endowed Professor in Biology, said the immediate and constant access to the lake now provided by the RV Ziggy will yield tremendous opportunities for BGSU students.

Whether it is studying algal blooms, toxins, invasive species or the legacy issues associated with industrial pollution, the RV Ziggy and its twin 250-horsepower outboard motors have opened up the totality of Lake Erie to BGSU researchers.

“It has incredible range and will allow us to conduct studies all the way to Cleveland and into Canadian waters,” Davis said about the vessel, which can accommodate 10 students. ziggy boatFor our alumni to look back and say they see BGSU becoming a leader in Great Lakes research and be willing to support that effort, it gives us even more motivation to do great work.”

The new research vessel – the same model used by most major oceanographic institutions – can put Falcons on the water any time research work is scheduled and is poised to respond when a major environmental event on Lake Erie necessitates immediate action.

“As a student, there is nothing better than having that actual hands-on experience,” Debra Scheetz Ryan said. “This is just one more tool to continue and expand on the great work they have been doing.”

Pat Ryan earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and Debra Scheetz Ryan earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from BGSU. Pat received a master’s degree in business administration and is a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Ohio. He is the president of The PDR Group LLC, and Debbie is the vice president of the Ryan Family Foundation.

Debbie served as a member of the BGSU Board of Trustees for nine years, including leadership roles as vice-chair and chair of the board. Pat served on the BGSU Foundation Board of Directors for 11 years, including two years as board chair and several years as chair of the Investment Committee. In 2013, Pat was inducted into the Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Hall of Fame.