Macroinvertebrate communities

River health and ecology

Aquatic ecologists Matt McTammany and Sean Reese are studying insect, crayfish, and mussel communities in the Susquehanna River to gain new insight into the river's ecology and overall health.

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Forests and Meadows

Native and Invasive Plant Communities

Botanist Chris Martine and students are exploring the forests and meadows throughout the Susquehanna region, including several studies assessing the impact of invasive species such as Japanese Knotweed on native riparian plant communities.

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Catchment Hydrology

The Hydrologic Cycle

Land Surface-Atmosphere Boundary Layer

Richard Crago and students explore the complex dynamics of watershed hydrology and river hydraulics, looking especially at evapotranspiration processes and water budgets in a nonstationary climate

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Environmental Engineering

Slurry Wall Technology

NSF-sponsored field station underway

Remediating groundwater contamination requires innovative geotechnical engineering solutions. Mike Malusis, Jeff Evans, and Rob Jacob are designing and installing our own instrumented slurry wall that can be used for teaching and research for decades to come.

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Stream-landscape connections

Geomorphic controls on stream habitat

Jessica Newlin, Ben Hayes, Craig Kochel, and Sean Reese are studying Pennsylvania watersheds that have been dammed and logged for two centuries and assessing their impact on native brook trout habitats today.

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Watershed Mapping and Modeling

Geospatial Terrain Analyses

Complex geospatial models are being developed to analyze geologic, soils,and hydroclimatic processes on a landscape scale. The models help interpret historic records and predict possible future outcomes."

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Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

Wireless sensor networks

Alan Marchiori is leading teams of computer science and electrical engineering students design and build multi-parameter hydroclimatic sensor networks that use low-cost microprocessors and wireless communication devices to measure and transmit weather, flow, and water quality.

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Natural Disasters

Catastrophic Flooding

Climate and fluvial systems in disequilbrium

The September 2011 floods from Tropical Storms Irene and Lee caused catastrophic flood in north-central Pennsylvania. Craig Kochel, Ben Hayes, and Jessica Newlin are studying the impact of such extreme weather events on streams, bridges, and communities.

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Abandoned Mine Discharge

Carl Kirby has been studying the geochemistry of the acidic discharge of metal-laden waters from abandoned coal mines in Pennsylvania. He is using these findings to design and build limestone wetlands that passively treat the contaminated discharges and improve water quality downstream.

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Amphibians in the river

Hellbender biology and conservation

Mizuki Takahashi and students are using aquatic mesocosms and eDNA molecular analyses to study the ecology and evolution of hellbenders and other amphibians. Their work extends from the Susquehanna watershed to other regions around the world.

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project profile

Miller Run Stream Restoration

Daylighting streams and creating off-channel wetlands on Bucknell's campus.

"The stream was once diverted underground through a culvert, but now flows through a natural channel shaded by native plants, with wetlands to capture and filter stormwater runoff."

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Karst Aquifers and Springs

Ellen Herman is studying the flow of water and sediment from sinkholes and streams, through underground caves, fractures, and aquifer conduits, and back to the surface as springs. A significant portion of the land's surface is underlain by karst aquifers, which are especially vulnerable to pollution.

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Water Quality and River Health

Temporal and Spatial Variations

Since 2009 we have been monitoring water quality and flow conditions in the Susquehanna River to assess temporal and spatial variability in the river's metabolism and productivity.

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Click on the top menus to view current conditions in the river at Milton or Danville, PA.


Real-Time Water Quality Monitoring

We are monitoring water quality at several locations in the Susquehanna River and developing software and hardware solutions that stream the data back to campus, store it in archival databases, and display it visually in dashboards and websites such as above.

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Passive Treatment Systems

Treating agricultural runoff

Matthew Higgins has partnered with the Union County Conservation District to design and construct wetlands that capture runoff from two different farms.

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Restoration Science and Engineering

Gravel Mine Reclamation

Much of the Susquehanna River valley is pock-marked by old gravel pits, used to mine the sand and gravel deposited by the glacio-fluvial outwash deposits. Most are ecologically barren and remain as deep isolated pools. Ben Hayes and Richard Crago are working with a local mining company to actively create wetland habitat in the gravel pit as mining commences.

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Bucknell is one of a few universities in the United States with a major river that borders its campus.

The Susquehanna River is the lifeline of central Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake Bay and has long been cherieshed by Bucknell's faculty, students, and alumni.

The Watershed Sciences and Engineering Program connects people to the river and it builds upon Bucknell's existing strengths in science and engineering by creating new watershed-based teaching, research, and outreach activities.

Its faculty, staff, and students also partner with local, state, and federal organizations on watershed research, stewardship, and conservation projects.

Upcoming Events

Susquehanna River Symposium

Visit the symposium website

Friday, November 13, 2015 - 7 PM to 10 PM
Saturday, November 14, 2015 - 9 AM to 3 PM

Elaine Langone Center
Bucknell University

All events are free and open to the public

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Did You Know?

The Watershed Sciences and Engineering Program offers summer research projects for students in biology, geology, civil and environmental engineering, computer science, environmental studies, geography, and history.

We developed a stream restoration plan for Miller Run that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and PA Department of Environmental Protection used to restore a large section of the stream that used to flow underground through a pipe buried beneath our golf course driving range.

Each fall, we offer the Susquehanna River Symposium, which attracts hundreds of students and faculty from over 12 colleges throughout the Susquehanna and Chesapeake Bay region.

Our mission is four-fold:
(1) enrich our watershed-based teaching,
(2) develop new interdisciplinary research,
(3) offer community outreach events, and
(4) help serve the university.

Our faculty and staff provide close, personal attention to students in the classroom, laboratory, and in the field. They are active researchers who involve students in their work.

Since it began as the "Susquehanna River Initiative" in 2005, the Watershed Sciences and Engineering Program has brought in over $1.4 million dollars in external funding, which it uses to offer new courses, fund new research, and establish field research stations on the Susquehanna River and nearby wetlands and streams.

Faculty and Staff Spotlight

Benjamin Hayes

program director

Benjamin Hayes

"I'm fascinated by the geology, hydrology, and ecology of streams and wetlands. Getting to explore these systems with Bucknell students and faculty is fabulous."

• fluvial geomorphology and river hydraulics
• wetlands hydrology and restoration
• impacts of land use and climate change

More about Ben
Sean Reese

project scientist

Sean Reese

"I grew up on the Susquehanna and have been studying the natural history and aquatic ecology of big rivers all my life."

• freshwater mussels
• mid-Atlantic fisheries
• aquatic ecosystems
• river diving

More about Sean
Matthew McTammany faculty profile

associate professor

Matthew McTammany

"Rivers are complicated, but what makes them complicated also makes them fascinating." I'm currently exploring:

• stream ecology and river metabolism
• carbon and nutrient dynamics in ecosystems
• ecosystem restoration and management
• human impact on aquatic ecosystems

More about Professor McTammany
Jessica Newlin faculty profile

assistant professor

Jessica Newlin

"Our watersheds are impacted by climate change and a growing demand for water. Good science and engineering studies are critical to finding solutions." My interests include:

• fluvial hydraulics and geomorphology
• impacts of land use and climate change
• groundwater and surface water interactions

More about Professor Newlin
R. Craig Kochel faculty profile


R. Craig Kochel

"Understanding Earth's complex hydroclimatic and surfical processes is critical to interpreting the past and predicting the future of any given watershed." My interests include:

• geomorphology and surficial processes
• catchment hydrology and flooding
• groundwater and surface water interactions

More about Professor Kochel

What Does Our Program Offer?

We asked students and faculty what they liked best
about the watershed sciences engineering program.

Creating New Opportunities


Laboratory and Field Research

  • Numerous opportunities exist for laboratory research on campus and field studies on local streams and wetlands or on the Susquehanna River or Chesapeake Bay.
  • Even as undergraduates, students conducting research projects with faculty may have papers published in top-ranked scientific journals or present papers at professional conferences.


Our Classrooms Are Outdoors

  • Educational pladdling sojourns down the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay
  • Special wetland, lake, and river classes for courses in biology, geology, and civil and environmental engineering.
  • Real-world projects for students majoring in the humanities, sciences, engineering and management.


Gain valuable experience

  • using hydroaccoustical instruments to measure flow hydraulics
  • using side-scanning sonar to map river bedforms
  • conducting benthic surveys of lakes and rivers to assess freshwater mussel and snail communities
  • electrofishing streams to survey fish communities

Mailing Address

Watershed Sciences and Engineering Program

Center for Sustainability and the Environment
Bucknell University
One Dent Drive
Lewisburg, PA 17837


Program Director


Project Scientist


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