Sep 22, 2020

Pennsylvania Schools Receive Research Grant

Lock Haven University received a research grant from Department of Defense to study PFAS

water quality

Three Pennsylvania universities received grants from the U.S. Defense Department to study water contamination.

The universities are Temple, Drexel, and Lock Haven. These schools will share a $1.43 million Department of Defense Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) grant to study per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). 

Part of the project involves constructing a series of artificial mesocosms to simulate freshwater stream ecosystems, reported LHU. These mesocosms will be housed on LHU’s campus and will consist of fish, invertebrates, and biofilms and bacteria. The team will evaluate how organisms respond to PFAS exposure and if fish with different ecological traits have the capacity to impact PFAS in stream ecosystems. 

The project will run from fall 2020 until the summer of 2022, reported Lock Haven University. LHU is receiving approximately $131,000 and up to six students will be paid for their role in the research.

In conjunction with researchers at Temple and Drexel, LHU Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Dr. Daniel Spooner and students will evaluate and test mechanisms which could explain how PFAS travel through aquatic ecosystems.

“This grant will provide exciting research opportunities to LHU students over the course of the project,” said Dr. Robert Pignatello, LHU President. “I would like to commend Dr. Spooner for his hard work and for his role in securing this funding that will enable Lock Haven University biology students to build on what they are learning in class and explore real, current, and meaningful environmental issues.”

According to Spooner, the data will facilitate numerous student projects on a diverse array of environmental topics for many years after the project is completed.

“These are fairly complex studies that will give students experience in animal husbandry and quantifying metrics of ecosystem health,” said Spooner. “I’m hoping that students will gain some experience designing and implementing experiments.”

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