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Buoying Science Innovation
A generous gift and matching state grant will create a $2 million endowment for the new chief of entrepreneurial science at Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society.
Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society is getting a newly endowed position that will put an entrepreneurial spin on science, giving students and faculty the opportunity to develop cost-effective and commercial solutions to environmental challenges facing the region and the world.
Not only is the new chief of entrepreneurial science a novel position in the liberal arts context, its funding at Washington College is coming from the largest single grant of its type that the State of Maryland has made to the College, as well as an outstanding gift from Louisa Copeland Duemling H ’10 GP ’10.
Duemling’s $1 million gift established the Andelot Endowment Fund for the Center for Environment & Society. The College was able to use that gift to win a matching $1 million grant from the Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative, a program designed to spur basic and applied research in scientific and technical fields.
“Washington College is an economic driver for the Eastern Shore and the entire State of Maryland,” Commerce Secretary Mike Gill says. “The research its faculty conducts and the bright young minds they nurture fuel Maryland’s economy and keep our state humming. We are proud to partner with this institution and look forward to seeing the fruits of the new position for years to come.”
In addition to enabling the College to secure the MEI funding, the Andelot Endowment Fund for the Center for Environment & Society will be used for a variety of purposes, including research-based teaching and scholarship opportunities. For instance, the money may help pay the salary of a visiting scientist, support the cost of a research vessel and equipment to enhance further research, or help qualified students pursue internships and other types of real-world learning.
“Louisa Duemling’s foresight and generosity have created a remarkable opportunity for the College,” says President Sheila Bair. “I have no doubt that her gift, and the state’s matching financial support, will result in exciting opportunities for our students to create innovative solutions to a host of environmental and scientific challenges facing our region and our world. This program is yet another example of how Washington College is applying the analytical and problem solving skills at the heart of a liberal arts education to the real issues confronting our society, providing practical know-how for our students and generating growth for our local economy.”
Doug Levin, currently deputy director of the CES, will become the first chief of entrepreneurial science. Although the program will be linked to multiple disciplines at the College—including environmental science and studies, math and computer science, engineering, chemistry, physics, and biology—its initial focus will be on expanding and commercializing the Basic Observation Buoys, or BOBs, that form the backbone of Levin’s initiative, the Chester River Watershed Observatory (CRWO). Lauded as a national model, the CRWO uses state-of-the-art technologies to monitor every aspect of the Chester River while involving College and K-12 students, as well as teachers, on every level of that endeavor—from the hands-on engineering of building a buoy with its attendant electronics and gear, to gathering the data and making it publicly accessible.
CES Director John Seidel says that in the past, buoys like this have been too expensive to use on a meaningful scale. But Levin and his team have lowered the cost dramatically, making it possible to deploy them in large numbers. There’s also a growing market for affordable solutions like these throughout the world where there are water quality issues.
“The Observatory is a wonderful example of linking students at various levels to problems of national importance,” says Seidel. “There is no better way to learn than by doing, and the lessons these students learn will stay with them for a lifetime. Doug Levin and his colleagues are masters at making these connections, and now we have the opportunity to really capitalize on what they have built. The State of Maryland and visionaries such as Mrs. Duemling deserve enormous credit and our gratitude for making such opportunities possible.”
MEI was created by the General Assembly in the 2014 legislative session and in its first year has provided $8.3 million in funding to leverage $10.6 million in private donations toward nine new professorships. In addition to the Washington College grant, those positions include a post at Morgan State University, three posts at the University of Maryland, College Park and two each at University of Maryland Baltimore and Johns Hopkins University. MEI dollars can be used to pay salaries of newly endowed department chairs, staff, and support personnel in designated scientific and technical fields of study; fund related research fellowships for graduate and undergraduate students; and purchase lab equipment and other basic infrastructure and equipment.