Normally this time of year, I'm about 2 weeks out from the semester starting reflecting on a fun summer field season with CWI interns. Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic has obliterated normal, including the field season. However, not all was lost. I've worked remotely with 2 talented interns on research related to our project developing a college-community partnership. Bailey Schwenk worked continued to work on his research developing a tool for prioritizing BMP locations for stormwater projects. Brooke Millisock started working on an extension website focused on urban stormwater management as a service to the project partners. We hope to roll out the website some time this fall when she finishes it as part of her environmental practicum course. Brooke is a talented artist as well a a biologist and designed this graphic for our website (as a quick preview). In addition, Jenna Tasker was able to work on identifications for her project examining how daily weather affects adult stream insect activity. Due to distancing guidelines, Jenna came out with me one day, and then the rest were done by myself or (as a treat for me), with my family. I'm excited and nervous about what the fall semester holds.
Like most Colleges and Universities, Lycoming College switched to remote instruction in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The end of the semester was bittersweet without being with the students on campus as many finished four years of hard work (and maybe a little fun too). I saw three of my research students move on from Lycoming College. While they'll (hopefully) be back for a fall graduation ceremony, I would have greatly preferred to experience with them the culmination of some pretty awesome research through a traditional end to the semester. Still, I couldn't be more proud of these students.
Ruric Bowman graduates with departmental honors in biology
Mikayla Schappert graduates after completing a GIS-based study examining landscape vulnerability to climate change
Braeden gonales graduates after serving as the cwi chemistry lab manager for the past 2 years.
Congrats to Ruric, Mikayla, and Braeden (and all graduates)!
The last few weeks have been an awesomely crazy time helping organize the 5th Symposium on Urbanization and Stream Ecology (www.urbanstreamecology.org). Here are a few of the highlights:
NSF support to increase professional and personal diversity at sUSE5
With some great mentorship and a wonderful concept developed by a large group of great people, I was able to get funded a $25,550 grant from the National Science Foundation (Award DEB-2012128) to support SUSE5 with a long list of senior personnel. We were able to provide travel support to community organizers, people from disciplines less commonly represented at SUSE meetings (e.g., social scientists, landscape planners, engineers, etc.), people with personal backgrounds often underrepresented in stream ecology, and other individuals with limited financial support to attend SUSE5. I'm excited how the overall support and the ability to support travel for this group helped (I think) greatly improve the meeting and make us better prepared to address the wicked problem that is urban stream management and renovation.
The meeting was an intense and amazing 3 days of interdisciplinary science. I think the overall outcomes demonstrated the 'wickedness' of the problem, but also the barriers that exist within and among disciplines in creating common goals and solutions to difficult problems. The case studies we worked on created a very interesting narrative through the meeting demonstrating how the process of interdisciplinary science can and can't work. Not everyone 'had a blast', but I posit that everyone who participated fully learned about urban streams and, possibly more importantly, about how to create effective solutions to managing these systems within the context of the urban communities these streams flow through. Stay tuned to the SUSE5 organizers and participants for more details on the outcomes of the meeting (and we are already talking about SUSE6!).
As a result of funding provided by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, my colleagues and I in the CWI were able to hire Leslie Rieck to work at a postdoctoral scholar in the Biology Department at Lycoming College. A recent graduate of the The Ohio State University, Leslie will be a key component of the College-Community Stormwater Project through student mentoring, research, and teaching. Leslie's graduate work examined "potential linkages between urban-induced hydrogeomorphic modification and: (1) fish assemblage compositional changes over time (3-5 years); (2) fish assemblage trophic dynamics; (3) aquatic-to-terrestrial nutritional subsidies to a common riparian consumer (spiders of the family Tetragnathidae); and (4) downstream drift of larval macroinvertebrates in the water column." I am extremely lucky to be able to collaborate with and learn from Leslie, and I'm excited for what the next few years will hold. Welcome Leslie!
A little insight into what my Clean water institute colleagues and I and Lycoming Students do for environmental education using streams
This video, produced by the PPL Corporation, was done to highlight the PPL Corp's generous support of environmental education performed by the CWI. Professor Emeritus, Mel Zimmerman of the CWI was the PI on the grant that allowed the purchase equipment to expand our ability to perform environmental education activities at the Waterdale Lodge. Environmental education at the Waterdale Lodge is a collaborative initiative between the CWI (and Lycoming College) and the Williamsport Municipal Water Authority. While I was not around when this initiative began, I am excited to support and help expand this ongoing collaboration that benefits school-age children in the area. The main goal is to develop stewardship and an appreciation for maintaining clean water for drinking, recreation, and biodiversity.
Research student Ruric Bowman: first to sfs in salt lake and then off to an NSF REU at Old Dominion University
Ruric Bowman presented his research at the annual meeting of the Society for Freshwater Science in Salt Lake City. He was able to attend after being awarded a $500 travel grant to attend the meeting from SFS in addition to support by the Provost's office at Lycoming College. He was back for 3 days and then was off to participate in an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) program in the Department of Ocean, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences at Old Dominion University. The REU program is focused on climate change and sea level rise in a coastal metropolitan environment. He'll be missed this summer, but this experience will serve him best in his quest to attend graduate school studying marine ecosystems.
Lab researcher Brittany Lenze graduated from Lycoming College this year. Brittany studied the effects of soil warming on Canada thistle and won the Biology Department service award for her work at a tutor, teaching assistant, and lab assistant in addition to just plain being an awesome student in the Department. She'll be working on a Master of Professional studies degree in Controlled Environmental Agriculture in the School of Integrative Plant Science (Horticulture Section) at Cornell University this Fall. Good luck Brittany!
My colleagues and I with the Lycoming College’s Clean Water Institute (CWI) were awarded a $258,000 grant from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to develop a college-community stormwater partnership model for small urbanized watersheds. The grant will further the capacity of the CWI to support urban stormwater management initiatives by community partners, expand the College’s environmental science curriculum, and provide new research and training opportunities to prepare students for a high-demand area in natural resource management. Further details can be found in Lycoming's official press release: HERE.
We are hiring a postdoc to help implement the teaching and research components of this grant. We are looking for a Ph.D. with expertise in fluvial geomorphology, urban hydrology, stormwater management, or green infrastructure, but candidates with expertise in other areas related to urban stream ecology are encouraged to apply. Details of the position and instructions for how to apply can be found HERE. Please email me if you have any questions about the postdoc position.