UNF and JU scientists partner to monitor river health

Eduardo Santos

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A continued research partnership between the University of North Florida and Jacksonville University monitors the St. Johns River, providing an opportunity for cooperation between the two institutions. This ongoing research has resulted in the seventh annual State of the River Report that details key measures for the condition of the lower basin of the St. Johns River.



Radha Pyati, Ph. D., director of the UNF Environmental Center and associate professor of chemistry, leads the UNF/Valdosta State University team. Pyati said this report is an effort to provide an unbiased scientific assessment of the river. Scientists from both universities want to provide information to the public and local government to help them make decisions regarding the river’s state.



Lucinda Sonnenberg, Ph. D., director of Millar Wilson Laboratory and associate professor of chemistry at JU, said the community component of this report is important to help dispel the common misconception by Jacksonville residents that “everything is horrible about the river, that there’s nothing alive in it.”

Both Pyati and Sonnenberg said while the report contains negative aspects, various aspects of it also point to improvements in the river. The report mentions improvements in turbidity or the cloudiness of the water, metal content, and aquatic life such as manatee and fish populations.

While no students from UNF are involved in this year’s report, many undergraduate and graduate students have worked on it in years prior. The report has been around for seven years and has given both universities an opportunity to cooperate, offer a service to the community, and provide students with hands-on research experience.

Email Eduardo Santos at [email protected]