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Clarkson University Great Rivers Center Contributions to North Country Recognized in Albany

[A photograph for media use is available at ]

Two Clarkson University students presented their senior St. Lawrence River-based research projects at the state legislature in Albany on April 28.Lockwood

Graduating senior Hilary Lockwood of Victor, N.Y., and graduate student Stefanie Kring of Alexandria Bay, N.Y., who received her bachelor’s degree in December 2008, were both active researchers in the Great Rivers Center at Clarkson University during their senior years. They made notable advances to understanding the impact of environmental damage in the St. Lawrence River near Massena, N.Y.

Lockwood and Kring were among a handful of students selected from across the state by the Great Lakes Research Consortium (GLRC) to participate in Great Lakes Day in Albany, a coordinated visit of students and stakeholders who strive to protect the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River ecosystem from environmental harm.

The GLRC aims to enhance Great Lakes research and education among members from universities from across the state, and affiliates in the neighboring Province of Ontario that shares with New York State ecosystem management of lakes Erie and Ontario, and the Niagara and St. Lawrence rivers.

The students met with Assemblywomen Addie Russell and Dede Scozzafava and Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, and staff from the offices of Senators Darrel Aubertine and David Velesky, and Assemblyman Sam Hoyt.

"This was the perfect way to sum up an ES&P degree -- being able to see how science gets communicated to the people who make the policies and laws," said Kring.

"You can’t get this experience in class doing this," said Lockwood. "It really cements the concepts learned."

The students are both graduates of Clarkson University’s Environmental Science and Policy (ES&P) program, directed by Associate Professor Alan Rossner.

"ES&P is an interdisciplinary program designed to provide the students with a sound foundation in both science and policy," said Rossner. "Students acquire a unique set of skills and perspectives to address the complex environmental challenges that we are faced with today and in the future. Attending forums like the Great Lakes Day is an unparalleled opportunity for the students to see how science is transitioned into policy."

Lockwood tested if there were any differences in the health of the plankton community in areas that have been impacted by heavy industry in the Massena Area of Concern by testing water quality above and below the Moses-Saunders power dam.

Kring examined nutrient levels in the rivers and the numerous tributaries into the river in the Massena area over a seven month duration.

Both projects concluded that the heavy industry does not have a noticeable impact on plankton health or nutrient levels in the area, but that there are upstream impacts in tributaries that affect water quality in the St Lawrence River near Massena.

More than 20 years ago, the International Joint Commission, which represent governments from around the Great Lakes, designated a section of the St. Lawrence River as one of 43 areas in the Great Lakes basin with serious pollution problems that impair uses of the river or the river’s ability to support aquatic life.

Once the rivers around Massena were identified as an Area of Concern, citizens, industry and agency people held monthly meetings and, with public input, prepared the Massena Remedial Action Plan, which included specific initiatives that would return the water related resources to the beneficial use the public once enjoyed.

One task is to prove that remediation has been successful. The Great Rivers Center at Clarkson University has been involved in these tasks to help show the North Country is a safe place to live and work.

Great Rivers Center (GRC) Director Michael Twiss of Clarkson University was the faculty mentor for the student projects.

"We have been successful in engaging student interests in science and policy to helping solve the environmental problems in the Massena AOC," said Twiss. "The projects the students carried out took over one year to complete. With grants support from the Great Lakes Protection Fund through the GLRC we were able to bring to bear an array of sophisticated instruments to help in this study and most importantly, the students put in the hours to make them successful. Success here was our ability to draw a conclusion on the status of the environment that the students studied and be able to communicate this to the public."

The Great Rivers Center has a mission is to ensure that the quality of this freshwater resource that is the St. Lawrence River is the highest possible. Water quality is defined by chemical purity, ecosystem health, and water ethics. To meet this task, the GRC is a focal point for creative multidisciplinary research, scholarly activity and community outreach.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University student Hilary A. Lockwood during water sampling for research on the Massena Area of Concern, St. Lawrence River. Lockwood and student Stefanie Kring presented their senior St. Lawrence River-based research projects at the state legislature in Albany on April 28.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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