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Indiana joins growing number of Midwest states hosting USGS collaborative research units

By Ben Thorp, IPB News | Published on in Education, Government, Science, Statewide News, Technology
U.S. Geological Survey director David Applegate talks about the importance of Indiana’s new cooperative research unit. (Ben Thorp/WBAA)

Purdue University will host a new U.S. Geological Survey Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit — the first in Indiana’s history.

The unit is part of a growing effort to place more federal wildlife research units in the Midwest.

Michigan launched its cooperative research unit, or CRU, at the end of 2022. Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky are still without one.

CRUs aim to deliver “actionable” science on fish, wildlife and natural resources in their region while also building the next generation of scientists.

David Applegate is the director of the U.S. Geological Survey, an agency that studies natural resources across the country. He said placing a new research unit at Purdue University makes sense.

“With all the capabilities at Purdue University it is high time that we were able to make this happen,” he said.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s CRUs were first established in 1935, with the initial unit housed within Iowa State University. Those units bring together a variety of federal and local partners under one roof.

In Indiana, the partnership will include the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Purdue University, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the national Wildlife Management Institute.

Indiana DNR Director Daniel Bortner said currently there are 10 researchers studying wildlife health at the agency.

“With the establishment of this new cooperative research center we will be able to triple the number of researchers we have here in Indiana,” he said.

According to a press release, the Indiana CRU will consist of federal researchers, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and administrative specialists. The federal researchers will serve as faculty at Purdue University.

Jessica Gurevitch is the head of the forestry and natural resources department at Purdue, where the CRU will be housed.

“Somehow, it has taken a long time to get this off the ground. We are thrilled it’s happening now because there has been a big gap in the Midwest until now,” she said.

It’s not yet clear what specific research topics the CRU will focus on.

The program is set to start in 2024.

Contact WBAA/WFYI reporter Benjamin Thorp at bthorp@wfyi.org.