A Broader View for the Darrin Fresh Water Institute


Media Relations media@rpi.edu

September 2, 2016

A Broader View for the Darrin Fresh Water Institute

As it broadens its reach, the Darrin Fresh Water Institute has transitioned from a research center based within the School of Science to an Institute wide center. The change supports the DFWI as it increasingly serves as a platform for multidisciplinary research and education, hosting faculty members, researchers, and graduate and undergraduate students from schools and departments across Rensselaer.

As part of the transition, Jonathan S. Dordick, vice president for research and the Howard P. Isermann ’42 professor of chemical and biological engineering, has announced that Rick Relyea, the David M. Darrin ’40 Senior Chair and professor of biological sciences, has been appointed director of the newly expanded Institute wide center, and Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer, a professor of biological sciences, has been appointed as associate director. The appointments were effective July 1.

Research at the DFWI fulfill the vision of The New Polytechnic, an emerging paradigm for higher education which recognizes that global challenges and opportunities are so great they cannot be adequately addressed by even the most talented person working alone. Rensselaer serves as a crossroads for collaboration—working with partners across disciplines, sectors, and geographic regions—to address complex global challenges, using the most advanced tools and technologies, many of which are developed at Rensselaer. Research at Rensselaer addresses some of the world’s most pressing technological challenges—from energy security and sustainable development to biotechnology and human health. The New Polytechnic is transformative in the global impact of research, in its innovative pedagogy, and in the lives of students at Rensselaer.

“Since its foundation, the DFWI has grown from a field station on Lake George to a major research platform, and this transition acknowledges that growth and enables that broader impact,” Dordick said.

That growth would not have been possible without Nierzwicki-Bauer’s leadership of the DFWI in her capacity as director since 1993, Dordick said.

“This transition builds on the strong foundation Sandra provided through her tireless dedication to DFWI, her support for researchers, educators, and myriad undergraduate and graduate students, and her expertise of Lake George ecology,” Dordick said.

Dordick said the DFWI “has held a remarkable place in Rensselaer history, including long-term studies on the effects of acid rain on fresh water habitats and the chemistry and biota of Adirondack lakes, ponds, and streams.”

In 2014, the DFWI published the results of a landmark 30-year study of Lake George, as part of ongoing research documenting changes in the lake’s chemistry and ecology. That research serves as the foundation for the Jefferson Project at Lake George, an unprecedented effort to integrate monitoring, modeling, and experimentation to understand the impact of human activities on large lakes, and an example of how the DFWI has broadened its reach.

“I think we’re going to see more people—faculty and students from across the Institute, as well as researchers from other organizations—participating in research that draws upon the DFWI,” Dordick said. “The DFWI hosts a dynamic range of sponsored research in our Institute wide signature thrust in Energy, Environment, and Smart Systems, and we can expect to see rapid growth in this thrust area.”

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is America’s first technological research university. The university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in engineering; the sciences; information technology and web sciences; architecture; management; and the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Rensselaer faculty advance research in a wide range of fields, with an emphasis on biotechnology, nanotechnology, computational science and engineering, data science, and the media arts and technology. The Institute has an established record of success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace, fulfilling its founding mission of applying science “to the common purposes of life.” For more information, please visit http://www.rpi.edu.


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About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, over 30 research centers, more than 140 academic programs including 25 new programs, and a dynamic community made up of over 6,800 students and 104,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include upwards of 155 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration. To learn more, please visit www.rpi.edu.