This paper summarizes the past 34 years of studies of algae by Rex Lowe and his students and collaborators at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, USA. Sixty-two students have received graduate degrees in this academic program focusing on systematics, ecology and environmental assessment. The taxonomic/floristic research initially focused on northern Ohio streams but is now continental to international in scope focusing on the algal flora of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and on the South Island of New Zealand. Ecological research has focused on factors that regulate the structure and function of benthic algae. Variables that have been examined include abiotic resources (nutrients and light), grazers and physical disturbance. Studies on environmental assessment have focused primarily on the impact of point-source loads of chemicals into water bodies.