Defiance Research Alliance

By: Hallie Webb

Defiance College has partnered with the City of Defiance to create a research program that focuses on water quality issues in the Upper Maumee Watershed through a federal Department of Education grant for $500,000 made possible by Senator Sherrod Brown. The Maumee River begins in Fort Wayne, IN, and follows through 137 miles of agricultural, residential, and industrial areas before depositing into the western basin of Lake Erie. Developing a better understanding of the nutrient and water quality data of the Upper Maumee helps close knowledge gaps surrounding the harmful algal blooms present in Lake Erie and the Maumee River and improves overall water quality for the whole watershed.

The goals of the Defiance Research Alliance are to examine excess nutrients in the Upper Maumee Watershed, improve education opportunities for secondary and college students, and to research real-world solutions to local water quality issues. The program will benefit the Defiance County community through outreach objectives surrounding the common goal of learning about our water. 

Students at both Defiance College and Defiance Area Schools have the opportunity to learn more about local water quality through the educational aspects of this program. Project Director Dr. Sabrina Brown is offering two college-level courses during the Spring 2023 semester: Fundamentals of Water Quality (BIO 495), open to Defiance College students of any major, and Inquiry in Science (NSCI 220), open to both Defiance College students and high school College Credit Plus, students. Students can also become involved with the Defiance Research Alliance through paid research opportunities for both Defiance College undergraduate and secondary students.

The partnership between Defiance College and the City of Defiance will benefit both parties involved. The City of Defiance, Water Treatment Plant, operates an inline nutrient monitoring system on the Maumee River that sends real-time water quality data to Water Treatment Plant staff and others—which the Defiance Research Alliance is using for its research projects. The grant will also cover renovations for Dr. Brown’s lab in Carma J. Rowe Science Hall to create the Maumee River Watershed Research Center for students to conduct original hands-on research and regularly collect, analyze, and interpret samples from the watershed. Data from the Water Treatment Plant and student research will be used to inform management decisions in the Upper Maumee Watershed. 

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