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Half-million dollar month for Center of Excellence for Field Biology

The Center of Excellence for Field Biology at Austin Peay has been awarded more than $500,000 in grants and contracts in the last month.

The continued success of our Center of Excellence for Field Biology to attract large grants is exciting, says APSU President Sherry Hoppe. Not only do these grants give students learning opportunities, but they also provide funding for our faculty to engage in research. With limited state resources for scholarly activity, grants such as these expand our research capabilities.
The Center of Excellence for Field Biology at Austin Peay has been awarded more than $500,000 in grants and contracts in the last month.

“The continued success of our Center of Excellence for Field Biology to attract large grants is exciting,” says APSU President Sherry Hoppe. “Not only do these grants give students learning opportunities, but they also provide funding for our faculty to engage in research. With limited state resources for scholarly activity, grants such as these expand our research capabilities.”

Dr. Andrew Barrass, director for the Center, says, “We've received letters of commitment for $465,000 in two weeks. With the Center and the University's matching funds, that brings our total beyond $650,000.

“With this level of funding, we will need to hire more graduate and undergraduate researchers this summer and fall.”

This month's grants and contracts include:

•Project WET (Water Education for Teachers-The Next Step) being awarded $234,000 to offer workshops to teachers and develop classroom facilitators. Laurina Lyle, coordinator of Project WET and environmental education coordinator for the Center, believes this funding will direct the program to a statewide level.

“Clearly, by the confidence state and federal agencies are showing us by funding our projects, the Center is entering a new phase in outreach and research efforts,” says Lyle. “The statewide success of our projects will lead to tangible improvement in water quality and pollution prevention in Tennessee.”

• The Miller Creek Restoration garnered a $181,600 grant from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture awarded to Dr. Mack Finley, principal investigator for the Center and professor of biology at APSU, to study the Miller Creek Watershed, begin restoration activities and pinpoint pollutants.

According to Barrass, the TDA intends for the study to serve as a pilot project for “a much larger interstate watershed project including a partnership with the State of Kentucky Natural Resources Department.”

Finley says, “This grant extension will allow Austin Peay to reach many more landowners in the watershed and analyze the nutrient loading into the streams.”

•A $50,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's Water Supply Division to study springs in Tennessee's Red River Watershed will provide needed information on the impact of pollutant loading into sinkholes.

The methods for monitoring the biological indexes of aquatic species will be evaluated by Lyle and Dr. Steven Hamilton, principal investigator for the Center and professor of biology at APSU. Hamilton, who believes this work is the first of its kind in the Southeast, says, “We will establish protocols for sampling aquatic insects in the mouths of springs as an indicator of water quality.”
—Rebecca Mackey