Virginia Tech has joined a prestigious research consortium focused on keeping the Chesapeake Bay a healthy and productive natural habitat for years to come.

The invitation to join the Chesapeake Research Consortium (CRC) is the result of Virginia Tech’s long history of research and education designed to better understand the management of the Chesapeake Bay. About half of Virginia lies within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and about half of Virginia’s residents live within the watershed.

“As a land-grant institution, Virginia Tech has a unique responsibility to lead in the creation and dissemination of knowledge that benefits citizens of the commonwealth. Addressing the myriad of issues that impact the health and management of the Chesapeake Bay directly impacts Virginia and its citizens,” said Brian Benham, Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist and professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering and chair-elect of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee.

Virginia Tech has long been a key player on on the advisory committee, which is made up of 38 independent scientists from throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed with expertise in agriculture, economics, social science, watershed processes, nutrient dynamics, and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

In 2015, advisory committee members, who are all volunteers, contributed time and effort valued in excess of $205,000 to support the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership’s efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay. 

The consortium is a nonprofit association currently comprised of six member institutions, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland System, the Smithsonian Institution, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Old Dominion University, and Penn State University. Virginia Tech will become the seventh member institution.

Formed in 1972, the consortium has been working for over 40 years to assemble multi-disciplinary scientific expertise to advance scientific research and education and to foster improved science-based management of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. 

“The addition of Virginia Tech is a natural evolution of our organization that was unanimously approved by existing members. Virginia Tech brings valuable understanding and new connections in multiple disciplines as well as extending our geographic presence into the southwest corner of the watershed,” said CRC’s Executive Director William Ball.

“The links between watershed activities and bay health are very direct and strong, such that Virginia Tech’s expertise in fresh water ecology, watershed processes, and pollution prevention and control will be especially valuable to our organization,” he said.

Official membership in the Chesapeake Research Consortium will further enable Virginia Tech and its faculty to engage in valuable information exchanges, formulate funding for interdisciplinary research, and provide an outlet for publishing and disseminating research. The membership will allow others from the university to become more fully engaged with the consortium.

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