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2012.04.19 > For Immediate Release
contact: Charley Reed - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2129 - email: cdreed@unomaha.edu

Elkhorn River Research Station to be Dedicated April 20

Omaha - The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), along with donors and other community members, will dedicate UNO’s Elkhorn River Research Station (ERRS) on Friday, April 20.

The station, located at 245th and Q Streets, will be dedicated at 10:30 a.m. UNO Chancellor John Christensen, College of Arts & Sciences Dean David Boocker, Alan Kolok, professor of biology and director of the aquatic toxicology laboratory at UNO, and a UNO student will speak at this event.

The ERRS will officially open after more than seven years of planning. The goal of the station is to monitor toxicity levels in the Elkhorn River as a pilot project for what Kolok hopes will be a nation-wide investment in similar types of projects.

“What’s going on in Elkhorn is, at least, interesting from a drinking water perspective,” he says. “[MUD doesn’t] pull from the Elkhorn but the plumbing to feed the water from the Platte goes under the Elkhorn River and right by the research station.”

Last March more than 150 volunteers from Omaha participated in a “Citizen Scientist” event by using small strips of paper to test the river’s atrazine levels. Atrazine is a commonly used herbicide that can enter rivers and lakes through storm runoff.

Land for the ERRS was donated by the family of T.L. Davis in 2005. George Haddix, a 1962 graduate of UNO and former head of HDR Systems, provided the lead gift to the building project. Haddix most recently contributed to the renovation of Roskens Hall, which opened as the new home for UNO’s College of Education in 2011.

With the completion of the station in 2012, Kolok and his students will be able to monitor toxicity levels in the Elkhorn River from their research labs at UNO over a more consistent timeframe.

“There are all these implications of the long-term ability of this river to sustain life,” Boocker said. “I don’t care whether we find contaminants or if we don’t; the point is that we’re going to have a mechanism by which we can ask the questions and then get those questions into information that’s useful.”

The ERRS also allows for elementary, middle and high school students interested in biology to contribute to an ongoing research project and share that information with their peers from around the world. The outreach component of the station is something Kolok said is really what is most important.

“Over time we’re going to build and incorporate this archive of videos,” Kolok explained. “It’s kind of cool and innovative from that perspective.”

For more information on the ERRS or Friday’s dedication, contact Jennifer Arnold, senior director of public relations for the University of Nebraska Foundation, at 402.502.4919 or by email at jarnold@nufoundation.org, or Charley Reed, media relations coordinator at UNO, at 402.554.2129 or by email at cdreed@unomaha.edu.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urB.A.sn, regional, national and gloB.A.sl life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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