CHWA CESU Project Spotlight

The following highlighted projects demonstrate many of the “added value” benefits of CESU-facilitated research: student engagement in all stages of research, close collaboration between researchers and resource managers, and evolving research opportunities designed to respond to further developing needs.  Many of these projects have been featured in our CHWA CESU Newsletter. Use the linked project titles to learn more about each featured project.


Two volunteers restoring dune at Dam Neck

Two volunteers restoring dune at Dam Neck Annex in October 2018. Photo courtesy of the National Aquarium.

ETHNOBOTANY PROJECT AT WIND CAVE– This National Park Service project, which evaluated the distributions and abundances of culturally important plants at Wind Cave National Park to better inform permitting policies and practices, won 1st place in the student poster competition at the annual conference of the The Natural Areas Association in October 2019. The project was a joint effort between Elizabeth Green, then a graduate student and her advisor, Dr. Sunshine Brosi, then a professor at Frostburg State University.

HISTORY OF SCIENCE IN THE PARKS– History of Science in the Parks is an ongoing National Park Service project designed to tell the stories of landmark scientific studies conducted in the parks. The project, which has produced web articles and films, involves a number of graduate students from American University and institutions in the University System of Maryland.

female graduate student surrounded by tall grass holding radio telemetry equipment.

Hannah Roos, then a Shippensburg graduate student, holding radio telemetry equipment during bog turtle study field work. Photo courtesy of Tim Maret.

LYNNHAVEN RIVER BASIN ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION and NATIVE SUBMERGED AQUATIC VEGETATION (SAV) RESTORATION IN THE ANACOSTIA AND POTOMAC RIVERS– The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and their partners at the National Park Service have funded a growing number of projects in recent years with the goal of restoring submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) to river basins within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  Since the late 20th century, SAV in the watershed has dramatically declined due to extreme weather events and reduced water quality.  SAV plays a number of critical roles in marine, estuarine, and freshwater ecosystems, including  providing food and habitat for various species of waterfowl and fish, helping stop erosion, allowing sediment to settle for cleaner water, reducing nutrient pollution, and adding much-needed oxygen, so its restoration is a primary concern. Research partners in the projects include the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), the DC Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES).

NRCS BOG TURTLE STUDYIn spring 2018, the USDA National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) partnered with Shippensburg University to investigate the effects of grazing on wetland vegetation and bog turtle habitat use and movements.

SAND DUNE RESTORATION AT NAS OCEANA– Since 2006, the National Aquarium and the U.S. Department of the Navy (DoN) have conducted sand dune stabilization activities along installation beaches at Dam Neck Annex (DNA).  In addition to protecting natural and manmade environments from ocean-related erosion, these dune systems play a key role in the Navy’s training mission.

If you are a CHWA CESU partner and have a project you’d like considered for the “Spotlight,” please contact Dan Filer ( or Rhonda Schwinabart ( with details.