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HARRISBURG, PA – After petitioning for membership in early 2024, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology (HU) has been formally accepted into the Chesapeake Watershed Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (CESU) as an institutional research partner. The Chesapeake Watershed CESU is one of 17 cooperative research units administered by the Appalachian Laboratory. With HU’s inclusion, the Chesapeake Watershed CESU features over 70 academic and research partners along with 12 federal agency partners.

The Chesapeake Watershed Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit was founded in 2001 as a community effort to study, understand, and “protect the natural and cultural resources of the region.” To date, it has secured $117 million in federal funds for research and awarded 1,000 projects to partner institutions.

Rachel Fogle, PhD, Associate Professor and Program Lead for Environmental Sciences at Harrisburg University, will serve as the Technical Representative to the CW CESU; Julia Dunst, PhD, Director of Research at HU, is the Administrative Representative.

Dr. Fogle was eager to celebrate this significant milestone:

“Through participation in the CW CESU, our university and our students gain access to national and international leadership opportunities in watershed science and stewardship. This not only enhances our reputation but also provides valuable networking and collaboration opportunities with other institutions and federal agencies. Our involvement in the CW CESU aligns with our mission to provide authentic experiential learning opportunities, furthering our commitment to integrated ecosystem management and contributing to the well-being of both the environment and the community we serve.”

With its strong focus on stewardship and interdisciplinary research, Harrisburg University is well-prepared to fulfill the mission of the CW CESU. HU’s campus is uniquely situated with the Susquehanna River in close proximity and stands at the convergence point of significant tributaries, including Conodoguinet Creek, Swatara Creek, and Paxton Creek. HU regularly facilitates student excursions to explore the remnants of the old Susquehanna canal system and encourages them to investigate its impacts and legacy. HU’s geographical location provides extensive exposure to watershed management and water process issues.

Given the proximity of these valuable resources, HU learners and leaders have conducted manifold research projects, all offering hands-on learning experiences:

  • Paxton Creek is a recurring focal point for hydrology-focused courses and various student projects. Recently, students have undertaken diverse research initiatives to showcase the practical application of their knowledge.
  • One student conducted a macroinvertebrate study of the Conodoguinet Creek, delving into an investigation of its overall water quality.
  • Another student explored the impact of unregulated trail bike activity in Michaux State Forest on stream water quality and sedimentation.

These projects exemplify HU’s commitment to authentic experiential learning and the direct application of academic knowledge to real-world environmental challenges.

Harrisburg University is proud to be accepted into this team of science-focused institutions with strong community roots. HU joins a list of partners committed to fostering student research and internships, building partnerships with the community, and promoting meaningful educational experiences that extend beyond the classroom. HU’s diverse scholar-practitioners are dedicated to advancing knowledge in their fields while actively involving, mentoring, and training students for future roles in the workforce or advanced academic pursuits.

HU thanks the Appalachian Laboratory and the Chesapeake Watershed CESU for believing in Harrisburg University and opening the door to these real-world, community-impacting research experiences for our students and staff.


Harrisburg University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and is a private, nonprofit university offering bachelor’s and graduate degree programs in the fields of science, technology, and mathematics. For additional information about the University’s affordable, demand-driven undergraduate and graduate programs, please call 717-901-5146 or email Stay updated by following Harrisburg University on XLinkedInInstagram, and Facebook.