Susquehanna University opens freshwater research facility

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jun 4, 2015 4:34 AM

Photo by Susquehanna University

Jonathan Niles, director of Susquehanna University's Freshwater Research Initiative, steers an electrofishing boat as Susquehanna students Desmond Edwards and Laurel Seemiller, both biology majors, handle the nets to catch fish for sampling.

(Selinsgrove, Snyder County) -- Students at Susquehanna University can now study the health of the Chesapeake Bay's largest tributary with state-of-the-art equipment, and the head of the research initiative says the new lab could help bring change to the Susquehanna River.

Eleven freshwater tanks, an electrofishing boat that makes it easier to catch samples, and water-testing units are just some of the highlights of the new freshwater research lab.

A $2.25 million grant from a private foundation funded the new facility at the Snyder County university.

As John Niles, head of the school's freshwater research initiative says, it's already been studying conditions in the Susquehanna River, and also looking at how smallmouth bass respond to different conditions.

"Well we've been doing some research on a variety of different things before, and this building kind of will serve as a further catalyst on some of the research that we've been doing before," says Niles.

Niles says when researchers can draw conclusions based on studies at the lab, he hopes to make the information public in plain language, adding:

"We're hoping that the public will see us as a group that they can trust for scientific information and our collaborative, they can trust our collaborators. And then that information is being distributed to them as citizens so that they can be better informed on what's happening with the river."

He says it may help more people realize the importance in helping the Susquehanna get healthy.

The university is already working with Penn State, the state Fish and Boat Commission, and the state Department of Environmental Protection on projects.

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