AEP continues Voinovich School partnership to promote healthier southeast Ohio watersheds

Kandlyn Collins
August 5, 2014

The American Electric Power Foundation (AEP) has continued its dedication to healthier watersheds in southeast Ohio through a new gift to the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University.

The gift will help expand the AEP Watershed Research and Education Program developed by the School’s faculty, students and staff. These programs give students real-world, hands-on experience doing research, collecting scientific data and recording changes in water quality during the watershed restoration process.

“For over a decade, AEP has been dedicated to helping the Voinovich School in their mission to further research and restoration in regards to southeast Ohio watersheds," said Pablo Vegas, president of AEP Ohio. "We are thrilled to continue our support of this important work."

The gift will aid in the development of data visualization tools and technical support of watersheddata.com, which houses chemical and environmental reports, watershed information and reports of impact that the Voinovich School and their partners have made on Ohio coal-bearing streams over the years.

As with past gifts, funding will support graduate students looking to continue their research in science, technology, education and math (STEM) at OHIO, as well as provide a body of knowledge regarding the restoration of watersheds to K-12 students in the area and increase support for students participating in the regional science fair.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with AEP in the effort to restore watersheds in the coal-bearing regions of Ohio," said Mark Weinberg, founding dean of the Voinovich School. “Their continued support is instrumental in our journey toward improved water quality in southeast Ohio.”

AEP is a long-time supporter of the Voinovich School and its efforts in watershed restoration. Since 2005, the AEP Watershed Research and Reclamation Professorship has been awarded to individuals who aim to cultivate academic activity and real-world problem solving to contribute to watershed restoration in the region. Mary Stoertz, former associate professor in OHIO’s Department of Geological Sciences served in this capacity until she passed in February 2007. Kelly Johnson, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, took over the Professorship in January 2008.

In 2009 and 2012, AEP made significant gifts in support of Voinovich School programs that focused on the creation of a regional model to predict the biological recovery of a body of water after the lessening of acid mine drainage, as well as to support graduate student stipends, research, equipment and travel expenses as they worked on watershed restoration.

AEP’s gift is part of OHIO’s The Promise Lives Campaign, which reached its goal of $450 million in support of students, faculty, programs, outreach and facilities in April—14 months ahead of the June 30, 2015 deadline. Having secured more than $464.4 million, the Campaign will continue through June 2015 and focus on increasing scholarship gifts.