Officials meet to discuss parks at NERP workshop

NEWS

Officials meet to discuss parks at NERP workshop

Mike Gellatly
Aiken Standard

Nov 19, 2009

Collaboration and working locally toward national goals were expressed as overarching themes Friday as the National Environmental Research Parks (NERP) workshop came to an end in Aiken. Researchers and scholars from all seven of the nationwide facilities gathered at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory’s conference center. “The commonality of programs has come through,” said Ken McLeod, co-director of SREL. “Despite our geographical differences, we are working on similar research themes.” SREL hosted the workshop for representatives from the seven environmental research park sites located at DOE nuclear sites: Los Alamos in New Mexico, Hanford in Washington, Yucca Mountain in Nevada, Oak Ridge in Tennessee, Fermilab in Illinois, the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho and the Savannah River Site. The network of research parks offers opportunities for scientists to combine their data to create a comprehensive picture of the impacts of climate change across widely varied geographic regions. At the conclusion of the conference, there was much discussion of how to put NERPs on the radar of legislators and make sure they are properly funded. “We have to push forward and show (the Department of Energy) that we can do relevant research for them,” McLeod said in closing remarks. Friday’s morning session saw the group discuss, among other topics, their outreach programs to schools and the public in general. Whit Gibbons of SREL gave a demonstration of his outreach program that involved a guest appearance from a python. Gibbons stressed to his colleagues from around the country the importance of reaching a diverse group of students and members of the public. Contact Mike Gellatly at mgellatly@aikenstandard.com.