Winter 2018
Gifts at Work

St. Anthony Falls Laboratory

The U’s St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL) is a mystery to most who see it from the banks of the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. Founded 80 years ago for the study of fluid mechanics, it’s now home to basic and applied research on river and stream restoration, water quality, renewable energy, and more.

Click on the numbers below to learn more.



The St. Anthony Falls Lab (SAFL) was built into the banks of the Mississippi River in 1938. It was designed by U of M professor Lorenz Straub, SAFL's first director.


“Donations play a very important role for lab research,” says Lian Shen, who was named director in 2017. He says private funding helps jump-start many environmental and renewable energy projects.


Professor John Gulliver co-invented the SAFL Baffle, which removes sediment from storm water. He’s given gifts to support the lab and its students workers. “We couldn’t do a lot of our work without the students,” he says.


Heinz G. Stefan Fellow Mirko Musa is investigating how underwater turbines that harness power to generate electricity alter a river’s shape. “Recognition like this boosts your morale,” he says of receiving the award.


The Alvin G. Anderson Award helped doctoral candidate Anne Wilkinson pay for textbooks. She is trying to predict when toxic algaes, which can contaminate drinking water, will bloom in lakes and rivers.


Grad student Gerard Salter is studying how water and sediment are distributed in river deltas. He presented his work at the American Geophysical Union’s meeting in New Orleans thanks to the Frank and Julie Tsai Travel Award.


An outdoor stream lab that was added in 2008 is located next to the lab. Supplied with water from the Mississippi, it's used to study water flow, sediment, and vegetation.