Conduct an undergraduate research project in ecosystem services!

The BCSE’s Watersed Sciences and Engineering program has received funding for an undergraduate research project in ecosystem services mentored by Don Duke, Professor of Environmental Sciences and Policy at Florida Gulf Coast University, and visiting scholar at Bucknell.

It is an 8-week project funded for this summer, from mid-June through the first week of August. Further details can be found below!

Summer 2018: Ecosystem Services Analysis for the Susquehanna River

One student is needed for 8 weeks to work as a paid research assistant with Don Duke, Visiting Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering, through Bucknell’s Center for Sustainability and the Environment. The work will begin in mid-June and conclude by
August 8.

The research is about ecosystem services. It’s a great project for someone who has
broad interests in the field and would like to delve deeper into the interconnections of
multiple specialties.

Services that environmental systems provide to us include:
● providing habitat for keystone species or economically important species
● preserving unique or unusual ecosystems
● protecting clean drinking water supply
● managing hydraulic systems to mitigate future flood damages

The student’s research would use literature and first-hand interviews with experts and practitioners to catalog a range of services, understand the state of the art for quantifying those services, and characterize the current state of data and information for the Susquehanna River that might be used to quantify those services. This research is the conceptual foundation for anticipated future studies.

The objective for this summer is to develop scope and procedures for an ecosystem services analysis for the full extent of the Susquehanna River. The primary research approach is wide-ranging and in-depth literature review that will (1) analyze existing ecosystem studies, including a pioneering study for the Delaware River – cutting edge analyses; (2) characterize the state of the art of relevant research in many fields; (3) identify and understand the range of topic areas essential or useful to the envisioned study; (4) determine any topic areas not yet addressed by existing research and/or not fully described by existing data; and (5) identify, locate, and if possible acquire
existing data that could be used to conduct such a study for the Susquehanna River.

The research will require the student to integrate concepts and assess data from multiple fields, including: ecosystem sciences; hydrology of natural and human-built systems; environmental engineering; and public policy decision making institutions, procedures, and historical development. Limited field work is possible: visits to observe some ecosystems and municipal structures; visits to some agencies to improve understandings of procedures and data; and visits to some practitioners in municipal agencies to understand their standard procedures.

The summer’s final product will be a written report, to include: components required for a first-rate, basin-scale study of this type; factors specific to the Susquehanna River for an ecosystem services quantification; recommendations about data availability that could be used to complete such a study, including identifying data gaps that would require new fieldwork or other research in the ideal case.

Interested students should respond as soon as possible to Prof. Don Duke at ldd010@bucknell.edu. Send a brief, half-page to one-page statement that includes your interests in the environmental field; your career interests in general; some of your coursework background in any of the environmental sciences, policy, or engineering that might be relevant as described above; and a phone number where Prof. Duke could contact you, including a few days and times when he can conduct a quick telephone interview.

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