Lower Schuylkill River Corps Cooperative Public Research Seminar

Photo Credit: Pete DeCarlo 

Photo Credit: Pete DeCarlo 

About the seminar

In tandem with other LSRCorps initiatives, the River Research Seminar began meeting in October 2016 and is funded until June 2017 by Penn's Fels Policy Research Initiative. It is a collaborative place-based research seminar designed to build a core of regional scholars whose work explores the Schuylkill River and Philadelphia’s urban waters, connecting them across disciplines from hydrology to history. The seminar works closely with community partners whose collaboration also informs the seminar’s research questions and priorities.

Spring 2017 meeting Schedule

2/3/2017 (Friday), 12-1:30p in Hill Conference Room, Room 240, LeBow Engineering Center, Drexel University.  , 

-David Velinsky (Academy of Natural Sciences / Drexel University )

-Chris Streb (Biohabitats)


2/17/2017 (Friday), 12-1:30p in the Meyerson Conference Room, 2nd Floor, Van Pelt Library, Penn

-Howard Neukrug (Penn; formerly Philadelphia Water)

-Lauren Mandel (PLA, ASLA; Andropogon)


3/3/2017 (Friday), 12-1:30p in the Meyerson Conference Room, 2nd Floor, Van Pelt Library, Penn

-Joel Fry (Bartram's Garden)

-Bethany Wiggin (Penn)


3/17/2017 (Friday), 12-1:30p in the Meyerson Conference Room, 2nd Floor, Van Pelt Library, Penn

-Peter DeCarlo (Drexel)


3/31/2017 (Friday), 12-1:30p Location TBA

-Marilyn Howarth (Penn)


4/13-4/15/2017 (Thursday-Saturday), Join us for a three-day conference and festival to imagine and build An Ecotopian Toolkit. Full event program available here


4/28/2017 (Friday), 12-1:30p in the Meyerson Conference Room, 2nd Floor, Van Pelt Library, Penn


5/11-5/12/2017 (Thursday-Friday), River Data Across Watersheds and Disciplines: A symposium on watershed health, stewardship, citizen science, and public humanities.

Keynote | 12–1:30p | Meyerson Conference Room, 2nd Floor, Van Pelt Library, Penn
Jason M. Kelly (IUPUI), "Anthropocene Methodologies"


Seminar research materials will be housed in the open river research archive. It is designed so that it can generate virtual tours--including items such as maps, environmental data, ethnographic interviews, photographs and other visual documents as well as narrative data, etc.--as well as feed a mobile app for self-guided tours on and along the river via your smart phone.

These platforms are also meant to promote the development of a learning curriculum on urban waters, environmental education, history, and ecology for community groups on Philadelphia’s urban waters.

The seminar meetings will further #LSRCorps initiatives to build digital tools that enable people to experience the historical and contemporary richness of the lower, tidal Schuylkill River. They are designed to be used and adapted by individuals and organizations who are on the river--whether for recreation, education, work, or stewardship.

Seminar members present current individual and/or collaborative research, discuss the ease or difficulty of integrating that research into the collaborative archive, and indicate how the research may be useful and of interest to community partners.

Funding for this seminar is used to pay local presenters an honorarium, to provide refreshments, to convene a two-day symposium on River Research with a keynote speaker on international urban waters, and to foster seminar participation in Bartram Garden’s River Fest 2017.   

Seminar Origins

In collaboration with artist Mary Mattingly and collaborators at Bartram’s Garden, Wiggin holds a Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship from January to June 2017 in support of a multi-disciplinary project called Floating on Warmer Waters. It explores the complex relationship of people and nature on the Lower Schuylkill River, home to both refineries and bird sanctuaries. In conjunction with the WetLand Project (2015-), co-organized by Redden and Wiggin with project founder Mattingly, two visioning meetings “to build wetland” were held at Bartram’s Garden, in December 2015 and April 2016. Participants included faculty from universities and colleges in the watershed, representatives from Philadelphia Water, Parks and Recreation, the National Parks Service, Fish and Wildlife, and others. From these meetings, a core group of river research collaborators emerged (listed below). The idea to develop a tour app emerged from these meetings and DeCarlo led a successful proposal to the Drexel ExCITe Center to obtain seed funding for the development of a collaborative audio based smartphone tour of the Lower Schuylkill River to use while walking, biking, or boating that integrates the history, ecology, community, and measured environmental parameters.

In conjunction with the PPEH conference on ecological Timescales in October 2016, PPEH Coordinator Patricia Kim, Ph.D. Candidate in History of Art, curated Date/um, a week-long show installed in Penn Libraries. Date/um documents the core group’s current research on the multiple timescales and historical frames (dates, datum and data) needed to understand the river. The show will move to Bartram’s Garden and other sites in late 2016 and into 2017; digital publication is currently in preparation.

The research seminar builds upon this present core to include more researchers with the twin aims of 1) promoting and connecting regional Schuylkill River and urban waters research across communities and ways of knowing; and 2) expanding a collaborative archive for present and future river research designed too to be used by community partners in need of curriculum to support existing water-based programs and new initiatives.


  • Laurie Allen (Assistant Director of Digital Scholarship, Penn Libraries)
  • Peter DeCarlo (Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering and Chemistry, Drexel University)
  • Danielle Redden (Director of River Programs, Bartram's Garden)
  • Bethany Wiggin (Associate Professor of German and Director of the Program in Environmental Humanities, Penn)

New members are always welcome. To join, please contact: director@ppehlab.org. We also have a google group