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IU Environmental Research Preserve Changes Directors

Researchers have studied climate change, deer population and invasive species at IU's Research and Teaching Preserve.

Keith Clay

Photo: Bill Shaw

Keith Clay, former director, is honored at Indiana University's Research and Teaching Preserve.

This week ushered in a new era of sustainability and environmental research here at Indiana University.

Indiana University is hiring a new director for one of its major research facilities on its Bloomington campus and his background—along with some new technology–could help further research on drought and climate change.

Invasive species, carbon storage, deer populations – these are all researched at Indiana University’s Research and Teaching preserve.

“We were able to carve out this space for the ages to do research on the natural environment,” IU Provost Lauren Robel says.

Researchers, students and top university officials, including Robel, came together Wednesday to honor the long-time director of the Preserve, Keith Clay.

Clay has been director for the 13 years it’s been open and now that he’s stepping down, associate professor Richard Phillips will take his place as science director along with Sarah Mincey, who will be the administrative director.

“I was probably, almost certainly picked to become the next director because of my active involvement with all of the properties here. [RTP] has seven properties, with four ongoing research on those properties,” Phillips says.

Phillips has been at IU for six years. His research mainly focuses on how plants and trees react to changes in the environment, such as droughts. Now, there’s a new structure built exactly for that purpose. Rather than wait for a dry season year after year, this apparatus directly manipulates rainwater to see what species react to these environment changes, and how.

The research continues the work Phillips has already done monitoring trees and how they store carbon.

“So you might not necessarily think about droughts as being these dramatic things that impact forests, but actually just having a dry year can have a really significant impact on the amount of carbon taken up by the forest,” Phillips says.

Other research currently being done at the preserve has looked at overabundant deer populations and those results played a role in Bloomington’s decision to manage the deer at Griffy Lake.

Casey Kuhn

Casey Kuhn is a reporter working for WFIU/WTIU news. Originally from Cincinnati, she recently graduated from Indiana University with a B.A. in journalism. Her main interests are dogs, baseball, and food. Follow her online at @CaseyAtTheDesk.

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