Gannon University Receives Two Grants for Lake Erie Watershed Research

Posted: March 9, 2016

Gannon University's Department of Environmental Science and Engineering recently received two grants from the Pennsylvania Sea Grant program to support research in the Lake Erie watershed.

Rick Diz, Ph.D., P.E., the department's chairman, will conduct a 24-month research project to understand harmful algal blooms in Presque Isle Bay. The research team will also include biologist Steve Mauro, Ph.D., interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at Gannon; biologist J. Michael Campbell, Ph.D. of Mercyhurst University; and student research assistants. The group will conduct extensive fieldwork to monitor Presque Isle Bay and the streams discharging into the Bay.

Using software developed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), the researchers will seek to discover the possible causes of harmful algal blooms, and to evaluate strategies to prevent the blooms and their adverse effects. The grant supporting this research was for $74,375.

Additionally, Michelle Homan, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental science and engineering; Hwidong Kim, Ph.D., assistant professor of environmental science and engineering; and Mauro will conduct a 24-month research project to evaluate the exposure to and human health risks associated with pharmaceuticals and personal-care products in drinking water originating from Lake Erie. Environmental science student research assistants will assist in the study that was funded by a $74,079 grant.

"We are pleased to be given the opportunity to continue to help improve the quality of the world around us," said Diz.

"These grants continue the long history of Gannon students studying Presque Isle Bay and Erie's environmental quality," he said. "Our first project on the Bay was in 1999 when we helped the US EPA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection determine if sediments in the Bay were toxic."

Gannon University has since continued to conduct research funded by Sea Grants. In 2014 the community was able to benefit from the research of biology, and fresh water and marine biology majors who completed a study of skin tumors found on brown bullhead fish in Presque Isle Bay. These students are now applying to further their education at graduate schools across the country.

The Pennsylvania Sea Grant Program (PASG) was established in 1998 as a partnership between Penn State University, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). PASG sponsors research, education, training and outreach projects to establish science-based decisions concerning the use and conservation of coastal resources along the 77 miles of the Lake Erie shoreline.