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Great Lakes Article:

Penn State Erie creates consortium on environmental research at Presque Isle
Penn State Live
Published July 20, 2005


Erie, Pa. -- With no lab to go to, many scientists conducting research at Lake Erie and the upper Ohio River Basin have resorted to conducting experiments out of their cars.

That will no longer be the case with the newly created Regional Science Consortium, a group that aims to coordinate and conduct research in state-of-the-art facilities at a new 65,000-square-foot visitor education and research center at the entrance to Presque Isle Park in Erie.

Penn State Erie, The Behrend College's Pennsylvania Sea Grant -- an outreach program that aims to increase public awareness of environmental and economic coastal issues -- created the consortium, which includes representatives from 14 area colleges and universities, a number of federal and state agencies and private environmental organizations. The consortium will be housed in Tom Ridge Center at Presque Isle, to be completed this summer.

Scientists, including botanists to geologists to ornithologists, will conduct research at the center, studying issues ranging from the history of shipwrecks to community development, according to Eric Obert, Cooperative Extension director of the Pennsylvania Sea Grant and vice president of the consortium.

Increased collaboration among scientists and agency personnel is expected with the new consortium. Much of their research will focus on the Presque Isle area, the city's impact on the watershed and the watershed's unique geological formations.

Environmental and Economic Questions

For instance, Obert expects that scientists will examine the contaminated sediments along the Presque Isle shoreline to gauge pollution's effects on the environmental health of the immediate area and the larger Great Lakes region. Researchers will also consider economic questions, such as whether a large-scale environmental clean up will result in more tourism to the area.

In addition to academic courses for undergraduate and graduate students, consortium members and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources education staff are in the process of developing an environmental education curriculum and programs for K-12 students and their teachers.

The new facilities will include a 6,000-square-foot research area with aquatics lab, botany lab, a microscopy teaching lab with audiovisual equipment, a cultures lab,a general chemical wet lab and a prep lab for preparing samples. In addition, it will house two archival rooms, one for plants and one for nonplant specimens. The consortium will also develop a 1,000-square-foot wet lab at the Presque Isle Marina that will allow scientists to conduct research on specimens in lake water.

 

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