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David Brandes, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Dru Germanoski, professor and head of geology and environmental geosciences, have received a $15,403 grant from the National Science Foundation for a joint project, “A Comprehensive Watershed Instrumentation Program for Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Education at Lafayette College.”

The funding will allow for installation of four automated stream gauges along the Bushkill Creek Watershed, which the two professors have been studying in a cooperative effort with one another and Lafayette students. Because the creek itself forms the southern and western boundaries of the campus, the Bushkill Creek Watershed has provided an ideal resource for teaching and research in areas such as watershed hydrology, water quality, and environmental management.

The professors also will use the NSF grant to bring learning experiences from the project to students in their classes.

Lafayette researchers have been studying potential impacts to the watershed from land use changes and suburban development, which are rapidly changing its character. “Right now we have two gauges that were funded internally,” says Brandes. “The additional gauges will enable us to take a comprehensive look at what’s happening the watershed in terms of water flow and quality, erosion, and sedimentation.

“We’re also interested in providing opportunities for our students to get into the watershed and use state-of-the-art methods to collect data. When students have ‘real world’ problems to tackle outside the classroom, it helps build motivation and excitement about what they’re doing. It’s a whole lot more meaningful than reading a textbook.”

One of the interesting aspects of the project is that the upper half of the watershed is underlain by shale and slate, while limestone is predominant in the lower half. The Lafayette team has three wells in the lower portion of the watershed and will implement three more in the shale and slate region – most likely in the area of Jacobsburg State Park – to compare differences.

Students will be involved with installation, data collection, and analysis. Those participating in research this semester include Justin Hoffmann ’02 (Hawley, Pa.) and Heron Mochny ’01 (New Dehli, India), who are working with Brandes, and Nathan Hawk ’02 (Lehighton, Pa.), who is teamed with Germanoski.

Categorized in: Academic News