Hartwick Receives $24,811 NSF Grant for Field Station

March 8, 2010

Hartwick College has received a $24,811 planning grant from the National Science Foundation to expand research and education opportunities at the Robert R. Smith Environmental Field Station at the Pine Lake Environmental Campus. The grant will enable the development of a five-year strategic plan for the field station with the hope of facilitating collaboration between Hartwick and the state agencies that oversee Riddell State Park, which borders Pine Lake.

Brian Hagenbuch, Director of the Pine Lake Institute for Environmental and Sustainability Studies, will oversee the project along with Associate Professor of Biology Mark Kuhlmann, Associate Professor of Biology Peter Fauth, Professor of Biology Stanley Sessions, and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad.

The NSF Field Station grant program is designed to support improvements in facilities, communications, and equipment at biological field stations and marine laboratories. Fewer than five planning grants are awarded each year. Hartwick will use the funds to work toward a unique partnership between the Smith station and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Places, promoting research and education on the impact of recreation on the biological and ecological diversity of public lands. It also will be used to enhance the station’s role as a center for research, education, and training.

“This project is especially attractive for Hartwick students, who may be able to engage in field-based internships, research, and thesis topics that will adequately prepare them for graduate school and/or work within these agencies,” Hagenbuch said. “Thanks to the generous support of the National Science Foundation, we envision that the Smith EFS will become a hub of research, education, and training activities.”

Over the next year, grant committee members will travel to at least 10 field stations with research and education interests similar to the Smith station to learn about their biological and physical features, meet with station leaders, and discuss operations and management, research and educational programs, collaborations with external agencies, and long-range planning, marketing, and financial structure. They also will conduct three on-site workshops focusing on research, education, and management objects with the goal of constructing a strategic plan that will increase research efforts, expand summer course offerings, and invite scientists outside of the Hartwick community to establish research studies.

“As outdoor activities continue to increase in popularity, it becomes increasingly important that we understand the effects of those activities on wildlife in different habitats,” Hagenbuch said. “Riddell State Park is an ideal location to research the impacts of recreation on ecosystems because plans to develop its public facilities have not yet begun. A collaborative partnership would provide an opportunity for Hartwick science students and faculty to work with state biologists and external researchers to design thoughtful studies that investigate the potential long-term impacts.”

The National Science Foundation was created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense … ." With an annual budget of about $6.06 billion, it is the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities.

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,480 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes a uniquely experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a unique January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for the world ahead. A Three Year Bachelor’s Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Jen Moritz
Phone: 607-431-4038