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Geology Department

NSF REU Information and Application

Comprehensive Approach to Watershed Characterization Focusing on the Source of New York City Water

Deadline date: February 10, 2012

» Complete project description *
» Project Application *

General Information about the NSF REU Site
Open search for 12 summer (2012) field hydrology, geomorphology, geology, geography, ecology, chemistry, and biogeochemistry undergraduate research positions at SUNY New Paltz, NY through the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates program. See below for more details and the application process.

This REU Site, funded by the National Science Foundation, provides a challenging eight-week summer experience conducting research in a comprehensive Watershed Characterization approach at the State University of New York, New Paltz (SUNY-NP) in collaboration with the New York State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Several faculty members of the multidisciplinary degree-granting Environmental Geochemical Science Program at SUNY-NP will mentor students. REU students will choose among many research projects such as surface and ground water hydrology, geomorphic assessment, aquatic chemistry, biogeochemistry, nutrient cycling, hydro-geochemical evolution, and invertebrate ecology. Students will use an integrated watershed approach to examine the geological, chemical, hydrological, and biological controls on hydrologic response variables and ecological communities within fluvial and riparian ecosystems and their cumulative effects throughout the watershed.

REU students will also be able to participate in evening and weekend activities with the REU program staff and other SUNY New Paltz student researchers to develop collegial relationships as an REU group. These activities will utilize the recreational facilities on the SUNY New Paltz campus and the special recreational opportunities that the beautiful Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountain region provide. Planned activities include rock climbing at Mohonk Preserve, whitewater tubing in Phoenicia, canoeing and hiking in the state parks in the Catskill region and trips to nearby New York City. These recreational activities will provide interesting and enjoyable opportunities for REU students to interact with each other and faculty mentors on a personal and informal level.

Program Goals
The primary goals of the SUNY New Paltz REU program are to promote the professional development of our undergraduate students and instill a better understanding and appreciation for the complexity of watershed characterization and management. In addition, the program experience will provide undergraduate students with meaningful, satisfying research experiences that: improve students' skills in applying the scientific method to hands-on research and train each student in modern research techniques; lead students to greater independence in pursuing their research interests, particularly those currently enrolled in non-PhD-granting institutions.

Financial Support
REU participants receive a stipend of $3,600 for eight weeks of research. Food, lodging and internal travel expenses for field data collection is covered by the grant.

Application Procedures
All qualified undergraduate citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions are eligible. Special consideration will be given to recruit undergraduates who are underrepresented in the sciences and engineering. Upcoming juniors and seniors will be considered from a variety of science and engineering disciplines, including geology, chemistry, biology, ecology, natural resources, civil engineering, soil science, and other environmental science and engineering programs related to water resources.

Students that participate in this REU site in 2012 should plan to arrive June 4, 2012 and depart on July 28, 2012.

A complete application to this REU program consists of the following five items:

  1. A copy of all undergraduate transcripts – unofficial transcripts are acceptable for the application; we will request official transcripts upon acceptance
  2. A brief statement of educational goals, and research interests and experiences (2 page maximum)
  3. A complete Application for Non-degree and REU Admission
  4. Two confidential letters of recommendation from faculty members at the home-institution, one letter must be from a faculty member at your undergraduate institution that is willing to mentor you in completing or presenting research results when you return to your school in the fall.
  5. A ranked list of your research project preferences (see below - include only and all of those you would accept)

Please take a moment to notify us ( or 845-257-3760) of your intent to apply. Application deadline is February 10, 2012. Send material to:

Department of Geological Sciences - REU
SUNY New Paltz
1 Hawk Drive
New Paltz, NY 12561.

Students will be notified of acceptance starting from February 29, 2012.

REU student selection will be based upon: demonstrated potential to succeed in graduate school as evidenced by undergraduate transcripts, the applicant's research interests and educational goals, the compatibility of a student's interests with participating faculty expertise and potential contribution to program goals. Two confidential letters of recommendation from faculty members at the home-institution, one letter must be from a faculty member at your undergraduate institution that is willing to mentor you in completing or presenting research results when you return to your school in the fall. Successful applicants will have a minimum GPA of 3.0, but this guideline can be waived if a SUNY-NP faculty mentor has reason to believe that the summer experience can reasonably boost the student’s potential to succeed in graduate school.

This program is for entering juniors and seniors; fundamental knowledge gained in previous undergraduate courses will be essential to the success of the research experience. Because of the variety of topics included in this Site, each faculty mentor will decide if an applicant is adequately prepared for the summer experience. Certain projects may require: the ability to hike in rough terrain, camping, a valid driver's license, modeling expertise, etc. Please feel free to request further details about special requirements.

Undergraduate student participants supported with NSF funds must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions. An undergraduate student is a student who is enrolled in a degree program (part-time or full-time) leading to a baccalaureate or associates degree. Students who are transferring from one institution to another and are enrolled at neither institution during the intervening summer may participate.

Research Projects - 2012

The SUNY New Paltz summer research program will involve an interdisciplinary investigation of watershed and stream characterization on the upper Esopus Creek watershed, which is currently being studied by the DEP. The upper Esopus Creek watershed covers a 497 km2 (192 mi2) area in the South-Central Catskill mountain region of Southeast New York State and drains into Ashokan Reservoir. The Ashokan Reservoir is the second largest source of water for New York City. The proposed research project will focus on the Stony Clove sub-basin (84 km2 [32 mi2]) of the upper Esopus Creek watershed. Protecting water quality by minimizing the turbidity from suspended sediments in the streams and reservoir is a primary management concern for DEP, and the physiographic and geological environment of the Stony Clove sub-basin makes it particularly prone to excessive sediment loads. These characteristics also make this site interesting for their effects on water chemistry, ecosystem processes, and stream flow. Moreover, the Stony Clove sub-basin is well-suited to study due to its proximity to SUNY New Paltz campus and ongoing research, monitoring, assessment, and management practices.

We encourage you to contact faculty for more information - contact information and web sites are located here. General questions regarding this REU site should be directed to Dr. Shafiul Chowdhury (

Project Title

  • Surficial mapping of the upper Esopus drainage network using GIS
  • Monumenting and surveying stream banks to monitor stability
  • Watershed characterization by conducting wetland and aquatic inventories
  • Study of Didymo geminata (rock snot) in Esopus Creek
  • Impact of Stony Clove Creek Watershed on Disinfection Byproduct Formation
  • Evaluation of different methods for estimating evapotranspiration (ET)
  • Establishing a relationship between turbidity and total suspended solids (TSS)
  • Evaluation of turbidity vs flow relationships in Esopus Creek
  • Groundwater-surface water interaction
  • Identifying factors controlling water quality
  • Role of groundwater on stream bank erosion

» Complete project description *

Funding for this project provided by the National Science Foundation.

If you have questions about this REU Site, please contact the SUNY New Paltz Department of Geological Sciences at (845) 257-3760 or

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