WMU News

Environmental institute established at WMU

April 23, 1999

KALAMAZOO-- A new institute designed to foster multidisciplinary environmental research and teaching was established by the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees at its April 23 meeting.

The Environmental Institute brings together the University's Center for Environmental Research and WMU's Environmental Studies Program. According to Dr. Charles F. Ide, director of the new institute, putting the environmentally-focused center and program together within the institute will make it easier to pursue grants and allow for interdepartmental collaboration on research. In addition, the students in the environmental studies program will benefit from exposure to enhanced research materials and research-based course offerings.

"By fusing these two together, we can offer undergraduate students opportunities to learn from hands-on research," says Ide.

Ide says that the institute is already pursuing a number of grants to fund research on the environmental issues concerning the Kalamazoo River. Among these would be working with the City of Kalamazoo to develop the riverfront, studying the fate and transport of pollutants in the river and the effect these pollutants have on the environment and wildlife, and looking at remediation alternatives for the river.

In addition, the institute will serve as a clearinghouse for environmental information about the river. Ide says by setting up an electronic repository for information about the Kalamazoo River, the institute can help researchers, environmental groups and policy makers stay abreast of data and activities associated with the waterway.

The institute will coordinate these and other projects, combining the talents of WMU researchers in the areas of environmental chemistry, geography, geosciences, biological sciences, statistics, psychology and science studies.

"The institute's projects are an example of a multi-disciplinary approach to working on a big environmental problem that affects a large part of Southwest Michigan," says Ide. "It will also be a wonderful learning tool for students."

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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