University hosts 13th annual Susquehanna River Symposium

“Science, Conservation & Heritage” held this weekend in the Elaine Langone Center

Avery Blasko, Staff Writer

The University hosted the 13th annual Susquehanna River Symposium on Oct. 26-27. The event was held by the Center for Sustainability & the Environment, whose mission it is to enable learning that applies understanding of human-nature relationships to promote students to serve the common good. The focus of the symposium this year was “Science, Conservation & Heritage.” Past themes have included “Spirit of Two Great Rivers: Susquehanna and Delaware” and “The River, Its Landscapes and Our Lives” (2017 and 2015, respectively). This year’s symposium featured speakers and watershed-related research from resources ranging from environmental agencies and consultants to students and faculty from universities throughout the Susquehanna and Delaware watersheds.

The purpose of the symposium is for the public and researchers to come together and share their findings to produce strategies that will ensure the long-term health of rivers of the Mid-Atlantic region. The symposium hosted over 150 students, faculty, scientists, agencies, and watershed groups to give presentations and exhibits on their research.

Along with discussing and educating the public on the environmental issues surrounding the Mid-Atlantic region, “The goal of this symposium is to cultivate knowledge, discovery, and stewardship for the benefit of the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay and its residents,” symposium chair and Director of the Watershed Sciences and Engineering Program Benjamin Hayes said.

The event began on Oct. 26 with opening remarks given by University President John Bravman and Hayes. A professor of biology at Susquehanna University, Dr. Jack Holt, then spoke on the importance of collaborative partnerships for advancing environmental sustainability in the central Susquehanna region. After the opening remarks, the keynote address, “The Importance of Rivers: Water Security in an Insecure World” was given by Christopher Williams. Williams is the American Rivers Senior Vice President for Conservation and leads a team of professionals who are dedicated to conserving rivers and the resources they provide. Williams also gave a talk on Saturday entitled “River Conservation in the U.S.: The State of the Art.”

Time was also dedicated to poster presentations. From 18 universities and 28 state and federal environmental agencies and other organizations, over 150 presentations were given. A wide range of topics were covered, including “Monitoring the Effectiveness and Prioritization of Conservation Practices” given by John Clune, Tammy Zimmerman, and Michael Langland of U.S. Geological Survey, “Loyalsock Creek and its Tributaries” given by Braeden Gonzales and Melvin Zimmerman of Lycoming College, and “Lack of Lateral Mixing Downriver of Tributary Confluences” given by Savannah Weaver ’20, Emily Konishi ’19, and Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies Matthew McTammany from the University.

The symposium was an opportunity for students to share their research and allow them to spread awareness for environmental conservation. Weaver spoke on what she thought of the symposium as a whole, saying that she thinks it is important because “it provides a platform for students to learn how to best communicate their scientific research and studies, which is also something important to the scientific community and our larger society.”

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