WORCESTER, Mass. - The College of the Holy Cross has received $20,000 in seed money from the 3M Foundation to establish the Blackstone Collaboratory, which will bring together natural scientists, mathematicians, historians and economists from Holy Cross and the region to address key scientific questions related to the environmental health of the Blackstone River.
The project is also designed to help coordinate the efforts of local and regional educational and community organizations with an interest in the river and the Blackstone Valley.
To be housed on the College's campus, the new collaboratory will take advantage of Holy Cross' physical proximity to the river's headwaters as well as the new Blackstone Gateway Visitor Center, just a quarter mile from campus. The project will draw on faculty expertise from the College's various academic disciplines, including Environmental Studies and Community-Based Learning courses.
The genesis of the project began in 2003, when Catherine Roberts, associate professor in the department of mathematics and computer science and co-recipient of the grant with Charles S. Weiss, director of Grants and Corporate and Foundation Giving, created a working group of faculty from several colleges and environmental institutions in Worcester. As word spread about these efforts, more and more community partners expressed interest in Blackstone-related issues and possibilities for collaboration and sharing information.
In March 2006, Holy Cross hosted the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission's Annual Dinner and Symposium. Last fall, the College hosted the Blackstone Canal Symposium at which Edward O'Donnell, associate professor of history at Holy Cross, shared his research on how Irish immigrants played a major role in the Industrial Revolution.
Since fall 2005, the College has provided office space to the Blackstone River Coalition, a partnership of more than 20 organizations working to restore the Blackstone River and to improve the watershed. Through the collaboratory, the College will make laboratory space on campus available to support the water-quality testing efforts of the Blackstone River Coalition in their Campaign for a Fishable/Swimmable Blackstone by 2015. The College provides greenhouse space to the Regional Environmental Council in support of their urban garden program, and is a major supporter of their annual Earth Day clean-up event in Worcester. The Collaboratory will seek additional ways to connect the College to these and other community groups.
Roberts will serve as director of the Blackstone Collaboratory, coordinating courses, programs, student internships, faculty and community partners, including the Blackstone River Coalition, the Blackstone River Science Collaboratory, the National Park Service, and the Regional Environmental Council.
About Blackstone River Valley The National Park Service established the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor in 1986. NPS describes the rich history and culture of the region, characterizing it as the "Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution." America's first textile mill was built on this river in 1790. Other mills soon followed, drawing immigrant workers. The Blackstone Valley contains more than 10,000 historic buildings and sites that together tell the story of America's transition from an agrarian society to one of industry. For more information visit: http://www.nps.gov/blac/.
About Catherine Roberts A member of the faculty since 2001, Roberts specializes in mathematical modeling. Roberts' work as the editor of the journal Natural Resource Modeling led to her leadership in the development of a recreational use model for white water rafting traffic on the Colorado River for the Grand Canyon National Park. Roberts was recently selected as one of 14 master teachers for the Intel Massachusetts Department of Education/Intel Math Initiative, where she will take part in a teacher professional development program for K-8 mathematics teachers designed to ensure high quality mathematics instruction and high levels of mathematics learning in elementary schools.
About 3M Foundation 3M is a $22.9 billion diversified technology company with leading positions in electronics, telecommunications, industrial, consumer and office, health care, safety and other markets. Headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., the company has operations in nearly 200 countries. 3M Community Giving consists of product donations and cash grants by 3M and the 3M Foundation and bolstered by employee and retiree volunteerism. In 2006, over $37 million was awarded to education and charitable organizations.
The College of the Holy Cross (www.holycross.edu) is the oldest Catholic college in New England. Founded in 1843 by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), Holy Cross is a highly selective, four-year, undergraduate liberal arts institution and ranks among the nation's leading liberal arts colleges.