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Buffalo State’s Great Lakes Center

The Great Lakes Center of Buffalo State College is a little-known but highly valuable asset to our community. Situated between the West Side Rowing Club and the Navy Marine Corps Reserve Center, the GLC is an environmentally minded entity as well as a tool for research and higher learning, with professors and students working together.
The GLC collects data and performs specialized analytical work to supplement what is done on campus. As one of the premier Great Lakes Environmental Facilities, the GLC focuses on Lakes Erie and Ontario and their watersheds, but will branch out to coordinate data from all of the Great Lakes. In order to perform this work, the GLC has built a special relationship with the Canadian Government.
Dr. Stephen Vermette, a Buffalo State professor and researcher, said that although Canada is still responsible for some coal burning, the levels here in the last five years have been greatly reduced. He points out that the work on the Great Lakes is so significant because the water-to-land ratio in such a relatively small area makes the open water highly susceptible to toxins in the atmosphere.
Within the GLC, there is a varying group of researchers who are offered the support of the facilities. Aside from mercury in spiders, gobi infestation and e-coli infestation, the GLC helps monitor and control wild life and water quality with the help of Captains John Freidhoff and Caleb Basiliko.
In the field station, Captain John devised a system of tanks that pipe water into the fish labs from huge vats that are controlled to replicate the seasons, allowing the organisms within them to proliferate or die off as they would in nature. He is teased about his devotion to detail, but the maintenance of the tanks is of the utmost importance in keeping test variables static.
The GLC also works with scouting and school groups to foster a better understanding of the environment. One such endeavor is entitled the Aquanaut Program. The GLC supplies fresh chemical kits students can take into the field in order to do their own water sampling. One such outing had a group of students and their teacher testing water in Lancaster, whereupon the group of amateur scientists found an unusually high sampling of e-coli in Buffalo River water. Brought to the attention of authorities, they found that the students, under the tutelage of their teacher and with the aid of their Aquanaut kits, had indeed found the source of a broken sewer line.
Captains John and Caleb regret that there is no funding in place to bus local Buffalo Public School students, and therefore the students who tour the facility are chiefly from the suburbs. “We’d like to be able to have local students get interested in what we’re doing,” Captain John said. That’s how a child learns to go from Aquanaut, to marine biologist, to steward of the environment.
Read the full article on May’s BRM.

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