In the News
Road Salt Alternatives May Harm Environment, Researchers ReportMarch 13, 2017 -
Alternatives to road salt are markete as environmentally-friendly substitutes because they allow highway crews to maintain ice-free roads while applying less salt. But the alternatives and additives may not be without environmental consequences, according to Rick Relyea, the director of the Jefferson Project.
The Jefferson Papers - Current Research from the Jefferson ProjectMarch 13, 2017 -
The Jefferson Project at Lake George is conducting ongoing research into how human activities may be affecting the lake. Among its studies: impacts of road salt on wetlands. Here, we summarize recent research published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.
Are Lake Species Becoming Salt-Tolerant?February 2, 2017 -
Among its many other products and by-products, the Jefferson Project is teaching scientists more than has ever been known before about the effects of road salt on fresh water ecoystems.
New Boat Helping RPI Survey Lake George's Fish PopulationDecember 13, 2016 -
“The food web is a key to water quality,” says RPI professor Rick Relyea, the director of the Jefferson Project. And at the top of that web is the fish population, which shapes the size and the distribution of the organisms that sustain it.
Invasion of the Aliens: Body Snatching Worms, Cold Winters May Rout Lakes’ EnemiesNovember 30, 2016 -
Researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Darrin Fresh Water Institute (DFWI) in Bolton Landing, N.Y., are studying a worm, named Chaetogaster limnaei, that has a taste for Asian clams. It’s the first species in Lake George known to prey on Asian clams. The work is funded by the LGA and the LGPC.
Study: Road salt skews future frog, amphibian generationsNovember 28, 2016 - Tainted water can skew population toward males, study reveals
Insight into Pseudomonas aeruginosa survival mechanismNovember 11, 2016 -
The bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa can thrive in environments as different as the moist, warm tissue in human lungs, and the dry, nutrient-deprived surface of an office wall. Such adaptability makes it problematic in healthcare.
RPI researchers use nanoparticles to treat influenza in miceNovember 4, 2016 -
Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute demonstrated in a paper published last month how they successfully treated immune-compromised mice exposed to the influenza virus with a new nanoparticle drug.
Lake George Sensor Network to Be Completed With $917K National Science Foundation GrantNovember 2, 2016 -
A high-tech sensor network for Lake George is on track for completion with a $917,000 National Science Foundation grant.
The World's Smartest Lake is Getting SmarterOctober 27, 2016 -
A grant worth roughly $1 million has been awarded to the Jefferson Project to add more sensors to a network that is already giving scientists a remarkably detailed understanding of Lake George, an understanding that will help advocates and policy makers preserve its clarity and purity.
The grant was awarded by the National Science Foundation, a federal agency and one of thesingle largest sources of funds for scientific research, to a team of researchers led by Rick Relyea, an RPI professor who serves as the director of the Jefferson Project, a collaborative effort of RPI, IBM and The Fund for Lake George.
The Smartest Lake on EarthOctober 6, 2016 -
Can technology keep Lake George pristine? Bill McKibben explores the Jefferson Project.
The brainiest of lakesMay 6, 2016 -
In 1791, Thomas Jefferson describes Lake George as "the most beautiful water I ever saw." Today, scientists are using gee-whiz technology to make it the smartest lake on the planet.
Totally Wired: State Grant Helps Jefferson Project Complete Web of Lake SensorsFebruary 23, 2016 -
A $500,000 grant from New York State will enable the Jefferson Project to add ten more sensors to a system that is designed to give scientists a remarkably detailed understanding of the lake, an understanding that will help advocates and policy makers preserve its clarity and purity.
Jefferson Project to expand research gatheringFebruary 22, 2016 -
This year, researchers will have a more complete understanding of Lake George than ever before.
The remaining 21 sensor platforms that have yet to be deployed as part of The Jefferson Project at Lake George are scheduled to take their places in and around the lake by the end of this year. So far, 20 have been deployed, mostly in the southern basin and the Narrows. This year, data-collecting and transmitting sensors will be deployed in and around the northern end of the lake.
The sensor network, made of four types of sensor platforms, collects massive amounts of information from the lake, its tributaries and wetlands, and sends data to supercomputers for analyses.
“We’ll try to complete that picture. We have about half the picture now,” said Jefferson Project Director Rick Relyea.
State funding pushes Lake George research project to finishFebruary 10, 2016 -
The state is kicking in a half-million dollars to complete the Jefferson Project, a multimillion dollar environmental research effort aimed at making Lake George the most measured and best understood body of water on the planet.
On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomoannounced that the project, launched in 2013 by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, IBM and the conservation group Fund for Lake George, will get funding through the Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program.
"We are very grateful for state funding," said Rick Relyea, project director at RPI. "This pushes the project to the finish line."
Jefferson Project Makes Waves With a 'Smart' LakeOctober 21, 2015 -
Over a few short years, the Internet of things has morphed from a fascinating concept into reality. It is rapidly redefining a wide array of industries and delivering greater insights into science and research.
At New York's Lake George, a 32-mile-long lake located in the Adirondack Mountains, more than 60 researchers are now turning to sensors and connected systems to better understand environmental threats—including road salt, agricultural contaminants, invasive species and the growth of algae—so that they can better protect the lake and its water.
Jefferson Project's Newest Research Vessel: The Minne Ha HaOctober 6, 2015 -
Every day, every hour or so, the Minne Ha Ha departs the Steel Pier, its chirping steam whistles, calliope licks and the bright foam of its paddle wheel infusing the air with a holiday sweetness. Who knew that it’s actually a research vessel?
Frogs mount speedy defence against pesticide threatAugust 18, 2015 -
This is the first-known example of a vertebrate species developing pesticide resistance through a process called phenotypic plasticity, in which the expression of some genes changes in response to environmental pressure. It does not involve changes to the genes themselves, which often take many generations to evolve.
The frogs' speedy response raises hope for amphibian species, of which one-third are threatened or extinct, says Rick Relyea, an ecologist at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, and the team's leader.
Jefferson Project update offered at Fund for Lake George annual meetingAugust 17, 2015 -
This year at the Fund for Lake George annual meeting at the Sagamore resort, a crowd of roughly 170 caught glimpses of the computer modeling being done from a deep level of research that is helping shape a science-based treatment for the lake.
High-tech fishing project needs public’s help collecting informationJuly 31, 2015 -
From minnows to deep-water whoppers, researchers are conducting the first comprehensive fish survey in more than 30 years as part of a multi-million dollar effort to determine the lake’s health.
"We’re trying to find out who’s here, where they are, how many there are and if so, how and why they’re changing,” said Rick Relyea, Jefferson Project director.
Five questions for Rick RelyeaJuly 31, 2015 -
A variety of instruments have been deployed that collect all kinds of data that give scientists and researchers a “real-time” view of what’s happening in the lake as it happens. This allows them to monitor where potentially harmful impacts like road salt, nutrient runoff, contaminants and invasive species are coming from, and what the consequences might be if their presence increases.
Lake George Jefferson Project provides model for waters elsewhereJuly 14, 2015 -
Cyber-infrastructure, above and beneath the waves, is giving researchers a high-tech look at factors impacting Lake George water quality. The Jefferson Project is a long-term collaboration between IBM, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and The Fund for Lake George that has cost more than $10 million just to ramp up.
IBM Makes Lake George World's Smartest LakeJuly 14, 2015 -
When you think of the Internet of Things, you probably don't think of lakes. But IBM, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the Fund for Lake George are using IoT technology to make New York's Lake George a "smart lake."
On New York’s Lake George, researchers fire up a state-of-the-art observatoryJuly 13, 2015 -
Academic researchers and computer giant IBM are aiming to make Lake George, a 52-kilometer-long body of water in New York state, one of the smartest lakes in the world. Late last month, scientists formally began to capture data from the first of 40 sensing platforms that will give researchers a detailed glimpse into lake behaviors such as water circulation and temperature. The information will be fed into computer models that the researchers say could help managers protect Lake George from threats such as invasive species, excessive nutrients, road salt, and pollution.
The effort, known as the Jefferson Project, involves more than 60 scientists from theRensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York; the FUND for Lake George, a regional conservation group; and IBM research labs in Brazil, Ireland, Texas, and New York. The researchers are using Lake George as a test bed for an array of sophisticated “smart” sensors that will monitor 25 different variables, including biological characteristics and water chemistry and quality. The sensors will not only report data back to laboratories, often in real time, but be able to respond to changes in the lake environment. “Our sensors can look at other sensors around [them] and say, ‘I’m seeing something a little unusual, are you seeing it too?’” says RPI’s Rick Relyea, director of the Jefferson Project. “If so, the sensor can make the decision to sample more frequently or sample in a particular depth of water more. They have a great deal of intelligence.”
The data the sensors collect will be fed to an IBM supercomputer that will help researchers develop five different computer models that will enable one of the Jefferson Project’s main goals: visualizing Lake George’s behavior. For example, using high-resolution weather forecasting technology developed by IBM, researchers will be able to see how runoff from big storms moves through the 600-square-kilometer Lake George watershed. Other models will allow researchers to examine the impact of the use of road salt on water quality, see how water circulates throughout the lake, and visualize lake food webs.
The Jefferson Project isn’t the only effort to harness new technologies to wire up and study lakes. The U.S. National Science Foundation’s National Ecological Observatory Network is using similar approaches to study the impact of climate change, land-use change, and invasive species on aquatic ecosystems. Internationally, the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON), a grassroots network of ecologists, IT experts, and engineers, also uses new technologies to study how lakes respond to environmental change.
This Jefferson Project isn’t the first time IBM has experimented with instrumenting a body of water, says Harry Kolar, an IBM researcher and an adjunct professor of physics at Arizona State University, Tempe. The company has helped develop many of the technologies being used at Lake George by participating in other projects, including the River and Estuary Observatory Network, an observatory system tracking the Hudson River at Denning’s Point in Beacon, New York. In 2009, IBM also launched a joint project with Ireland’s Marine Institute to monitor water quality and marine life in Ireland’s Galway Bay.
What makes the Jefferson Project different, Kolar says, is not only the smart sensors and the high frequency with which they will collect data, but how the data will be used to help inform the models. And Paul Hanson, a limnologist at the University of Wisconsin (UW), Madison, says that although the Jefferson Project is similar to other lake-monitoring projects, “they’re doing it on steroids. More variables, more frequency, and with better integration [with] models.”
Overall, researchers plan to equip the lake with 40 sensor-carrying platforms, some on land and some in the water; they have deployed 14 thus far. The platforms come in four “flavors”: vertical profilers that send instruments into the lake’s depths to monitor things such as water temperature, chlorophyll, and dissolved organic matter; weather stations that measure humidity, barometric pressure, and wind velocity; tributary stations that study water entering the lake; and acoustic Doppler profilers, underwater sensors that measure lake currents.
Kevin Rose, a postdoctoral associate at UW Madison, who is active in GLEON, says IBM’s involvement makes the Jefferson Project stand out. “Private-public partnerships are going to be a hallmark of how more research is done in the future and this is a great model to see that in action,” he says.
The ultimate test of the Jefferson Project’s value, Hanson says, will be whether local and regional officials are able to use the information to better manage and protect the body of water known as “the Queen of American Lakes.”And project director Relyea says they are aiming high. “Ultimately,” he adds, “our goal is to make this project a blueprint for understanding lakes” that can be replicated elsewhere.
The project, which is expected to run for at least 3 years, is jointly funded by the three groups; leaders say it has a total budget “in the millions,” including direct spending and in-kind contributions. Researchers expect the Jefferson Project to have all of its systems fully integrated by the end of 2016.
Albany-area primary care doctors try medical scribesMay 18, 2015 -
When Leslie Palmer went to see her longtime primary care physician, Dr. Paul Barbarotto, earlier this month, there was an extra person in the room ...
Science by robot: Outfitting the world’s “smartest” lakeApril 20, 2015 -
Over 30 years ago, Rensselaer established its field station at a donated property in the town of Bolton Landing. (The space was previously a lodge, and it still provides a place to sleep for visiting students and scientists.) This station has served as a base for long-term monitoring of Lake George, as well as other research in the area—including monitoring a number of Adirondack lakes following the acid rain regulations passed in 1990. Now, it is home to the Jefferson Project. And with IBM's technological and financial support, researchers are getting ready to take advantage of a whole new approach to studying Lake George: Big Data.
Rensselaer Pairs Business Students with Researchers to Aid CommercializationMarch 25, 2015 -
Graduate-level business students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are working with science and engineering faculty to assist researchers in the commercialization process.
Who Made That Flavor? Maybe A Genetically Altered MicrobeDecember 11, 2014 -
Take, for instance, chemical compounds called antioxidants. Health-conscious consumers are snapping them up because there's some evidence that these substances repair damaged cells in our body, reducing the risk of cancer and heart problems.
Private effort aims to wire Lake George into world’s ‘smartest lake’November 7, 2014 -
The project aims to instrument New York’s Lake George with five vertical profilers, 12 tributary stream monitors, eight acoustic Doppler current profilers and 11 weather stations by 2015. Organizers say the effort will make it the world’s “smartest lake.”
“IBM, as part of their Smarter Planet effort to use cutting-edge tech, is using Lake George as a proving ground for their sensors,” said Rick Relyea, scientific lead of the Jefferson Project at RPI. “So we do have sensors from YSI (deployed), but on top of that, IBM uses its own computer boards to make them smarter.”
Winter Road Salt – the Next Acid Rain? – May Threaten Adirondack “Queen of American Lakes”November 4, 2014 -
Lake George is waiting, her future in question. For the first time in the history of the 32-mile-long lake – a gift from long-ago glaciers that once covered the land, then melted – our actions may have imperiled her health.
Jefferson Project Ensures Long Term Health of Lake GeorgeOctober 28, 2014 -
A more than decade long, multi-million dollar partnership formed to ensure the long-term health of Lake George is already making progress, barely a year after getting started. Matt Hunter has a closer look at the Jefferson Project.
RPI fraternity to make neighborhood grantsApril 2, 2014 -
A $50,000 micro-grant program sponsored by Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity that is intended to improve the quality of life in the Mount Ida neighborhood will be launched on Wednesday. The fraternity, whose members attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will hand out grants of up to $1,000 to homeowners, landlords, nonprofit groups and business owners in the community. The fraternity will award 50 grants over a five-year period.
High Schoolers break out the robots for battleMarch 19, 2014 -
It's all about robotics today at RPI. Thirty eight High School teams are showing off their creations in the Tech Valley Regional Competition. It's the first time this regional event has been held in the Albany area. Photojournalist Rich Frederick takes a look.
Troy Record: High school students gather at RPI for annual robotics competitionMarch 19, 2014 -
More than 1,000 high school students, along with hundreds of teachers, college and professional mentors, parents, and 3,000 pounds of metal, gears, and electronics will converge at the East Campus Athletic Village at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institue in Troy, N.Y., for two days of compeition today and Saturday.
Western Pa. students prepare for robotics competitionsMarch 19, 2014 -
Area high school students will take robots this weekend to Troy, N.Y., and Youngwood.
While McKeesport Area students pack for Troy and the first of two FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) regional tests, others are headed for competition at Westmoreland County Community College.
Alzheimer's disease: NMR pinpoints genetic clueJanuary 24, 2014 -
"The mutations that cause FAD lead to an increased ratio of amyloid beta-42 over amyloid beta-40," Wang explains. "That's the biochemistry, and that has been observed by many people. But the question we asked is: how? How do the mutations lead to this increased ratio?"
Saving Lake George: Can Sensors And Big Data Protect $1 Billion In Tourism?September 9, 2013 -
Enter the Jefferson Project at Lake George (named for the third president of the United States, who was a fan), spearheaded by IBM Smarter Water experts, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the non-profit FUND for Lake George. Their idea is to use a combination of data analytics, three-dimensional (3-D) computer models, and 30 years worth of historical data to improve scientific understanding of how stuff is circulated around the lake.
Sequester Strains Science ResearchersSeptember 9, 2013 -
Aside from pushing young scientists away from research, the reduction in federal funding also has the potential to create problems for those researchers trying to climb the ranks within academe. The increasing scarcity of federal funding opportunities may make it more difficult for faculty to obtain tenure, according to Jonathan S. Dordick, vice president for research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.