Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Diana White and colleagues, was funded by the New York Sea Grant for the project titled “Building Capacity for Protectors of the Water and Habitat on the Indian River Lake (Project WHIRL) – Establishing Community Strength in Water Resource Education and Stewardship.” The goal of the project is to expand Project WHIRL (est. 2019), a K-12 program developed as a volunteer program for school-aged children by the Indian River Lakes Conservancy. The project focused on aquatic resource stewardship in the northeast region of New York State.
White worked to expand Project WHIRL in summer 2021 to include a for-credit track, where high school students worked on activities involving lake surveying, application of mathematical modeling to invasive species biocontrol, and experiential field trips to the Thousand Island Biological Station operated by SUNY-College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and a Eurasion watermilfoil mitigation study conducted by Clarkson University at Lake Norwood on the Raquette River. White worked with high school teacher Andrea Inserra of the Indian River High School to develop the summer curriculum and students obtained high school credit in earth science.
“Our intention with the program is to train future leaders in watershed management, enhance Scientific literacy in this area, and for this program to have positive feedback effects for similar training in the years to come. We’re excited to already see positive feedback, having a past Project WHIRL student, Jillian Neaves ’24, (Biomolecular Science at Clarkson University) mentor Project WHIRL students this past summer. Also, one of our current WHIRL graduates is already suggesting that they are excited to pursue a career with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation” White said.
Clarkson Biology Chair Michael Twiss states “This is a great program for local students to learn both science and how it applies to protecting the abundant freshwater resources in our region – from mountain streams in the Adirondacks, to wetlands in the valley, to the mighty St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario. I am impressed that these high school students presented their research findings alongside university students at the Research and Projects Showcase, held last summer at Clarkson University - this shows the valuable experience that Dr. White and partners were able to provide these upcoming scientists.”
The project is in collaboration with Clarkson University faculty Michael Twiss (Professor and Chair of Biology), Kathleen Kavanagh (Professor of Mathematics and Director of the STEM Education Institute), Lisa Legault (Associate Professor of Psychology), Indian River teacher Andrea Inserra, and the Indian River Lakes Conservancy. Other Clarkson undergraduate mentors include Noah Bohl (Environmental Science and Policy), Nathalie Barrios (Psychology), and Nicolas Bos-Ladd (Data Science).The team is working to expand Project WHIRL to 5 more high-need schools throughout counties bordering the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries. Work from Project WHIRL was published in the SIAM news.