April 22, 2022

Susquehanna University has been awarded a $625,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to support the Freshwater Research Institute.

The two-year grant will allow Susquehanna’s institute to expand its impact by:

  • Assessing stream restoration effectiveness through research-based monitoring across local sites in collaboration with regional partner organizations.
  • Developing a data-sharing platform for university partners of the Unassessed Waters Initiative to strengthen this statewide research collaboration.
  • Improving the understanding of brook trout population resiliency in the Loyalsock watershed by identifying features that best support their survival.
  • Broadening the pipeline of future conservation professionals and developing conscientious environmental citizens through additional student recruitment, and academic and professional development.

“We all have a role to play in the world’s collective response to the environmental challenges we are facing. For higher education, that role is a critical one,” said University President Jonathan Green. “We are educating the next generation of environmental stewards and leaders in an increasingly interdependent and complex world. The support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation allows us to build upon our proven history of success as we work to ensure the good health of the Susquehanna River and its tributaries.”

Collaboration Leads to Larger Collective Impact

Located at the Center for Environmental Education and Research, the Freshwater Research Institute was founded in 2014 through a generous gift from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. The institute’s mission is to provide a supportive and student-centered experience that equips undergraduates with the skills, knowledge and professional networks to achieve their personal career goals in the research, conservation and restoration of near- and in-stream habitats.

“The foundation’s continued support enables us to act as agents of change — identifying knowledge gaps, responding collaboratively, and integrating the results for better restoration and conservation actions by our partners,” said Kathy Straub, dean of Susquehanna’s School of Natural and Social Sciences. “By including students in this process, we hope to build more engaged citizens who can advance environmental conservation.”

Providing over half of the fresh water to the Chesapeake Bay, the Susquehanna River watershed plays a critical role in the health of the bay. Susquehanna’s research and monitoring takes students and faculty from the headwaters to the main stem of the Susquehanna — collecting data on fish, macroinvertebrates, water chemistry, and sediment.

“The Freshwater Research Institute brings together faculty and students with our conservation partners to conduct applied research that addresses the ecological problems facing the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay,” said Matt Wilson, director of the institute. “This is the kind of collaboration that moves all of our work forward in meaningful ways.”

The FRI collaborates with more than 30 organizations — nonprofit groups, government agencies, and other academic institutions — providing a web of connections across the watershed and into the Chesapeake Bay to benefit the environment and aquatic life.