About 30 minutes from Thomas More’s main campus in Crestview Hills is a one-of-a-kind facility for applied biological research that is the only working field station on the banks of the entire stretch of the 981-mile Ohio River.
Thomas More’s Biology Field Station houses the Center for Ohio River Research and Education, which offers students, faculty, and staff opportunities to learn about the natural world through field courses, research projects, and outreach programs that focus on the ecology of the Ohio.
The work that goes on at the Station was recently supported with a $10,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation, renewing a long-standing relationship that dates to 1971. Overall funding from Duke Energy awarded to the Biology Field Station totals more than $1 million, says Chris Lorentz, the station’s director.
“Together, we have helped maintain the health of the environment, particularly the Ohio River, while developing the next generation of STEM professionals and improving the quality of life of those living in our community,” he says.
The Center welcomes students from grade schools to graduate schools as well as the general public. It specializes in hands-on, inquiry-based teaching methods, with faculty and students educating visitors about the river’s ecosystem and surrounding watershed using state-of-the-art water chemistry and wet laboratories, a recently renovated smart classroom, research boats for electrofishing and water sampling, an outdoor classroom, and a meteorological station.
It has become a regional center for research, consulting, education, and community services and collaborates with business and government, including the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Newport Aquarium, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Its research projects include a long-term ecological monitoring program to examine the water quality, habitat, and fish populations around two Duke Energy coal-burning power plants, and a project to understand the basic biology of imperiled freshwater mussels and assist in the recovery efforts of threatened and endangered mussel species.