Director: Sandra A. Nierzwicki-Bauer
Associate Directors: Charles W. Boylen, Richard F. Bopp
The Margaret A. and David M. Darrin’40 Fresh Water Institute, with research facilities both on the main campus and at the field station on Lake George, provides opportunities for Rensselaer undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and visiting scientists to study a number of ecosystems and conduct basic and applied research on environmental problems. The research field station, located at Bolton Landing, N.Y., includes a renovated, year-round Educational Center (within the Adirondack lodge, which houses a multi-computing facility and provides housing for students studying at the Institute, and is available year-round), several small cottages, a boathouse, and a 7,500-square-foot laboratory facility for research and teaching.
Computer-simulation models integrate field studies with laboratory experiments. Studies of ecosystem function and the influence of human activities on specific environmental systems help prevent or minimize adverse environmental impacts. The Lake George ecosystem has been under intensive study for the past 30 years and will continue to be one focal point for the Institute’s research activities. Other areas of research concentration include the Hudson River ecosystem, the effects of land use on watersheds, studies and controls of exotic species (e.g., Eurasian Milfoil and Zebra Mussels), and the effects of environmental pollutants on both terrestrial and aquatic systems.
The Institute fosters a multidisciplinary team approach in both education and research with participants from the various disciplines within the School of Science, as well as other environmental programs across the Rensselaer campus. Collaborations with faculty at other universities and field stations also enhance research and educational programs.
The Darrin Fresh Water Institute also has research facilities on campus with the W.M. Keck Foundation Water Quality Laboratory. This New York State certified laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation to conduct sophisticated studies of water quality and the fate of pollutants. Analytical equipment for water and soil chemistry analyses and microscopy equipment to study interactions between organisms and substrates are components of this interdisciplinary research laboratory, located in the Materials Research Center. Recently, the Keck Lab is working collaboratively with Rensselaer’s Center for Polymer Synthesis on fuel cell research (a promising new technology in helping to meet the world’s energy needs).
The Darrin Fresh Water Institute remains at the forefront of environmental activities at Rensselaer and continues to be a local, state, national, and international resource. Summer courses involving both classroom instruction and intensive field studies are held at the Lake George site. Student participation in research activities at the Institute is encouraged through participation with individual faculty and student internships available each summer. We continue to integrate new and emerging bio and information technologies with traditional ecology methods for the study and preservation of freshwaters. The Institute’s research, education, and outreach activities are important contributions to advancing The Rensselaer Plan. More information on these activities can be found on the DFWI Web site, http://www.rpi.edu/dept/dfwi/, which also includes a “virtual tour” of the facilities at the Bolton Landing field station.