Russell Legislation Would Pave Way for Research Center at Clarkson’s Downtown Campus

June 14, 2011

Today, Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell (D-Theresa) announced passage of a bill (A 6726-A) that would allow the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries to develop a center for advanced environmental technology at Clarkson University’s historic Old Main Building in downtown Potsdam.

“This is an exciting project for Clarkson University, Potsdam and the surrounding communities as a whole,” said Russell. “The science and technology fields are the job creators of the future. In order to compete for these jobs, we need to have world-class facilities right here in the North Country.”

Clarkson University President Tony Collins said, “This is a win-win for Upstate and Downstate New York because the legislation will enable Clarkson to use these funds to renovate and equip the University’s historic Old Main Building in Potsdam to develop real-time, technology-based monitoring and forecasting network platforms for deployment on New York’s great rivers, the Hudson and St. Lawrence.”

Russell’s legislation would allow the Beacon Institute to access funding through the Dormitory Authority to renovate Clarkson’s 116-year-old Old Main Building and design and construct an advanced research facility at the site. The Old Man Building, like much of Clarkson’s downtown campus, has sat idle since the university moved most of its operations to the hill more than a decade ago.

“The new research center will not only help spur job growth in the science and technology fields but it will also help breathe new life into downtown Potsdam,” said Russell. “I am pleased that we will see more redevelopment of Clarkson’s downtown campus as a result of this project.”

The Beacon-Clarkson collaboration will support research and development in partnership with the River and Estuary Observatory Network (REON), a joint effort between the Beacon Institute, Clarkson University and IBM.

REON, the first technology-based monitoring and forecasting network of its kind, will provide minute-to-minute monitoring of data from the Hudson and St. Lawrence Rivers. Researchers say monitoring systems like REON will allow scientists to better understand and predict how large river and estuary ecosystems work. That knowledge, in turn, will translate into better public policy and management of the Hudson and St. Lawrence Rivers, and rivers and estuaries worldwide.

“To say that the technology has broader applications would be understatement. These rivers will serve as test-beds for the advancement of a technology that can be commercialized to meet a global demand for technology that provides early warning and identification of isolated threats to water quality before they become larger problems requiring costly multi-year remedial actions,” Collins said. “I am very appreciative of Assemblywoman Addie Russell’s work in the Assembly and Senator Joe Griffo’s in the Senate in passing this legislation that authorizes the University to receive state funds to support our collaboration with the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries.”