Erie creates consortium on environmental research at Presque
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
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
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
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.