Undergraduates present at 12th annual Susquehanna River symposium

Sasha Weilbaker, Senior Writer

The University’s Watershed Sciences and Engineering Program of the Center for Sustainability and the Environment hosted the 12th Annual Susquehanna River Symposium on Nov. 10 and 11. The theme of the symposium was “The Spirit of Two Great Rivers: The Susquehanna and Delaware.” The event was held in the Elaine Langone Center (ELC) and was open to the public.

The event featured scientists and engineers who work throughout the mid-Atlantic region on environmental issues that affect the watersheds of the Susquehanna and Delaware rivers. Dr. Thomas R. Porter, elder and spiritual leader of the Bear Clan of the Mohawk Nation, served as the keynote speaker. Dr. Elizabeth W. Boyer, Director of the Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center at Penn State University, and Dr. David L. Strayer, Distinguished Scientist Emeritus at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and visiting University of Michigan scholar, spoke and led plenary presentations as well.

The symposium highlighted research by students from institutions that are members of the Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies (SRHCES), which includes Bloomsburg University, King’s College, Lycoming College, Lock Haven University, and Susquehanna University. There were also student and faculty presentations from Penn State, Juniata College, and Kutztown University, among others.

From the University, there were oral presentations by one graduate student and five faculty members along with poster presentations by 15 undergraduates, eight faculty members, and two professional staff members.

Melissa Ocampo ’20 presented with a poster that detailed her research in Assistant Professor of Biology Mizuki Takahashi’s lab, in which she examined how road salt affects spotted salamanders and wood frogs.

“I really enjoyed being able to talk to people from all over the country who are also passionate about conservation at the symposium. It was really awesome to talk to people with different backgrounds, experiences, and areas of interest,” Ocampo said.

A team of Chase Kravetz ’20, Caroline Whitman ’18, Nicholas Passantino ’21, and Jacob Mendelowitz ’18 presented a poster about their new app, “Ready, Set, Fit.” According to Mendelowtiz, the app is “designed to help people get up and moving while also helping them experience their local culture and history.” The app provides the user with paths to walk along, and uses GPS location to detect display media when the user walks over a point of interest.

“Presenting at the Susquehanna River Symposium was a unique experience. Most of the other projects there were directly related to water quality, wildlife preservation, or some other aspects of the river. It forced me to think outside the box when presenting [in terms of] how the work I’ve done could apply to the physical health or cultural significance of the Susquehanna or Delaware rivers,” Mendelowitz said.

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