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10-14-2011

Clarkson University Launches Lauren Davis '59 Interdisciplinary Program in Riparian Systems Management

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/davis-riparian.jpg .]

Clarkson University has launched an innovative new research and education program focused on the dynamics, form and structure of streams, thanks to a generous gift from a Class of 1959 graduate.

Clarkson Prof. Hung Tao Shen (left) and Davis examine the Delaware River on Davis’ property on August 27, 2011, one day prior to the flooding caused by Hurricane IreneThe Lauren Davis '59 Interdisciplinary Program in Riparian Systems Management will build on the current strength of water resources engineering at Clarkson. A riparian zone is the interface between land and a river or stream.

Lauren R. Davis received his bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from Clarkson in 1959. A resident of Margaretville, N.Y., in the Catskill region, Davis’ hometown and property suffered significant flooding damage during Hurricane Irene.

The east branch of the Delaware River flows adjacent to his family farm and flooding events have caused problems for Catskill region residents for many years. Davis says Clarkson’s study of riparian systems will be a proactive step for the University and an opportunity to do some groundbreaking research.

“The field of stream and riparian management is emerging as an important contributor to water ecology,” says Davis. “The purpose of this project is to capitalize on Clarkson’s current capabilities to take a leadership position in stream and riparian management education and research.

“The long-term goal of the program is to be involved in the full cycle of lab research, field-testing, project design, project monitoring and continuous feedback, which will facilitate advancement of the field of study. The intent is to create a revenue center that will provide scholarships, internships, and financial support to Clarkson University for the continued development of stream and riparian management education and research.” 

On the research side, Clarkson will hire a post-doctoral fellow who will work with faculty members in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to develop research activities on stream dynamics and morphology.

Clarkson will also develop a senior design course and a SPEED (Student Projects for Engineering Experience & Design) team focused on this topic. Field, laboratory, and computer modeling work will be included in the course, and a senior design course will be offered in spring 2012. 

 “Anthropogenic change of Earth’s climate is causing a considerable increase in the intensity of floods and droughts," says Clarkson professor and associate dean of engineering for research and graduate students Hung Tao Shen. "These changes are affecting stream systems and related ecological and environmental problems. The Lauren Davis '59 Riparian Systems Management Program will help water resources engineering research at Clarkson to build and improve the understanding of stream flow functions and their impacts. The program will allow undergraduate and graduate students at Clarkson to broaden their knowledge of stream dynamics and develop their ability to better manage stream systems.”

 “The Davis gift will provide an immediate boost to Clarkson’s already strong capability for educating students and pursuing research in streamflow and water quality management," says Clarkson Provost Thomas C. Young. "The recent catastrophic flooding experienced across much of New York and the northeastern U.S. demonstrates the critical need for trained professionals in these fields. The Davis gift will help ensure that Clarkson students will advance toward clearly defined leadership positions in efforts to deal with such concerns in future years.”

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five 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 has launched the Lauren Davis '59 Interdisciplinary Program in Riparian Systems Management thanks to a generous gift from Davis, a class of 1959 graduate. Above, Clarkson Prof. Hung Tao Shen (left) and Davis examine the Delaware River on Davis’ property on August 27, 2011, one day prior to the flooding caused by Hurricane Irene.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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