The Environaut has proved to be an invaluable educational resource not only for Gannon students and faculty but also for elementary and high schools students and teachers throughout the region. Since the Environaut’s initial purchase, the University has significantly enhanced its research capabilities by outfitting it with radar, sonar, winched booms and underwater camera, a generator, and an enclosed laboratory among other upgrades.
The 53-foot vessel is widely used by students in Gannon’s environmental science program as well as students in biology, limnology, zoology and field ecology classes. One of the Environaut’s primary benefits is allowing those students to complement their classroom learning with practical, hands-on training and field work. Thus, students have become versed in researching environmental health problems, water chemistry, lake and air pollution, population dynamics, acid rain and eutrophication.
Gannon students also have assisted staff from the Environmental Protection Agency. For example, the students and EPA staff, working aboard the agency’s Mudpuppy, collected sediment samples from 11 sites on Presque Isle Bay. The sediment samples later were tested for possible contamination; prior to the study the Environmental Protection Agency had listed Presque Isle Bay as the 43rd Area of Concern in the Great Lakes Program.
The University’s proximity to Presque Isle Bay and to Lake Erie has made the Environaut truly a natural fit for Gannon.