Clarkson University awarded grant for Great Lakes research project


NEW YORK (WWTI) — Five research projects received state funding on Monday, including a project led by Clarkson University.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Great Lakes Research Consortium announced $121,741 in grant awards for projects across the state. Projects supported range from studying invasive species, harmful algal blooms, coastline changes, unknown pollutants and agricultural settings in the region.

According to the DEC, these grants aim to help ensure that these projects restore and protect the health of New York’s Great Lakes and surrounding communities.

“Our rapidly changing climate, coupled with increased threats from invasive species, nutrient pollution, and emerging contaminants, are challenging the health of Great Lakes ecosystems,” stated DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “The research grants announced today will help New York State delve deeper into the science of these problems and broaden our ability to address these and future challenges.”

Great Lakes Research Consortium Director Gregory L. Boyer, Ph.D., added, “the Great Lakes Research Consortium is pleased to support a wide range of projects from across New York State to address important issues including invasive species, harmful algal blooms, changing water levels in Lake Ontario, the identification of new and emerging contaminants, and the use of phosphorus sorption technology. These small grant awards support first-of-their-kind and basic foundational research that is essential if we are to properly manage and conserve New York’s critical freshwater resources.”

Projects receiving 2021 Great Lakes Research Consortium Small Grants are included below, as well as project descriptions provided by the DEC.

Clarkson Assistant Professor of Biology
Andrew David, Ph.D. Photo: Clarkson University

Clarkson University, $24,917: Studying invasive species of snails

Clarkson Assistant Professor of Biology Andrew David, Ph.D., will lead research to assess the connectivity patterns of two established invasive species of snails—one that impacts largemouth bass populations in New York lakes and rivers, and one that is now the largest, most abundant snail in Adirondack lakes.

Hobart and William Smith Colleges Associate Professor
of Geoscience Tara Curtin, Ph.D., right, instructs students on a
research vessel field trip. Photo: Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Hobart and William Smith Colleges, $25,000: Measuring shifts in algal disturbance, composition and nutrients over the past century.

HWS Associate Professor of Geoscience Tara Curtin, Ph.D., will work with HWS Finger Lakes Institute Post-Doctoral Research Scientist Michael Brown, Ph.D., to lead the project team that includes researchers with Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Syracuse University; and the University of Regina, Saskatchewan. The team will evaluate the records of Canandaigua Lake, Cayuga Lake, Owasca Lake, and Seneca Lake, which have all experienced toxic HAB events since 2017. The team will use sediment cores to develop a long-term record of HABs and the associated environmental drivers as a data-based tool for developing mitigation strategies.

Binghamton University Associate Professor of Geological Sciences
and Environmental Studies Peter L.K. Knuepfer, Ph.D., along
Esopus Creek, a Hudson River tributary in New York’s Catskills
Mountains. Photo courtesy of Peter L.K. Knuepfer

SUNY Binghamton, $24,035: Augment the New York State Geographic Information System database with a historical record of coastline changes along Lake Ontario

Binghamton University Associate Professor of Geological Sciences and Environmental Studies Peter L. K. Knuepfer, Ph.D., will lead this pilot project to systematically evaluate the history of shoreline change, both due to erosion and accretion, as a way to evaluate recent high water events in 2017 and 2019, as well as future changes. The project will incorporate historical imagery, maps, and navigational charts accumulated for this stretch of shoreline over more than three decades.

SUNY ESF Chemistry Professor John Hassett, Ph.D., prepares
to launch the ESF Chemistry research vessel on Onondaga Lake.

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, $24,789: Testing for unknown water pollutants missed by traditional screening practices.

SUNY ESF Assistant Professor of Chemistry Alexander B. Artyukhin, Ph.D., will lead an ESF team that includes John Hassett, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry, and Lemir Teron, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies. The team will analyze samples from Onondaga Lake and Lake Ontario to test the feasibility of using untargeted mass spectrometry technology paired with molecular networking to discover potential new pollutants, derivatives, or metabolites.

Seneca Watershed Steward Ian Smith conducts field research
in Castle Creek, Geneva, N.Y. Photo: Samantha Stumpf

Seneca Watershed Intermunicipal Organization, $23,000: Evaluate optimizing the design of phosphorus sorption technology to use in agricultural settings.

In collaboration with the Finger Lakes Institute at HSW, the Yates, Seneca, and Ontario County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and Seneca Farms Biochar in Odessa, Seneca Watershed Steward Ian Smith will lead this innovative project to inform the design of field-scale systems that would be USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service-approved best management practices for mitigating phosphorus and HABs.

The DEC confirmed that this grant program is funded by New York’s Environmental Protection Fund.

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