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PEOPLE'S UNIVERSITY - West Virginia Watersheds: Class 4 - A Role for the Citizen Scientist

September 25, 2018
7:00pm - 7:00pm

PEOPLE'S UNIVERSITY - West Virginia Watersheds: Class 4 - A Role for the Citizen Scientist

What does citizen scientist mean? The term citizen scientist refers to scientific work undertaken by members of the general public, done under the direction of professional scientists and scientific institutions. Many data sources are available to help citizens understand their local drinking water quality as well as the quality of their local streams, rivers, and lakes. The GLOBE citizen science project provides expert-created guidelines for youth and adult citizen science water quality testing as well as data sharing. This presentation will give an overview of how knowledgeable citizen science initiatives can address the general public’s disconnect from locally meaningful data, media misrepresentation or incomplete reporting of water quality issues, and problems related to interpretation of data presented in isolation of primary watershed research. This talk will suggest available resources to support and guide citizen scientists interested in WV water conditions and community benefits of citizen science actions.

There are three instructors for class four: Dr. Dorothy Vesper, Dr. Ben Hitt, and Mr. Howdy Henritz. 

Speaker 1: Dorothy Vesper, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Geology, West Virginia University

Dorothy is a low-temperature geochemist with a focus on karst hydrogeology, temporal changes in water quality (diel and storm), high-CO2 waters, metal geochemistry, thermal-mineral springs, coal-mine drainage, and how contaminant move in karst aquifers. Much of her recent research considers the relationship between inorganic carbon and sulfur in natural waters.

Speaker 2: Ben Hitt, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Industrial Electronics at Belmont College

Dr. Ben Hitt is a nationally recognized expert in data mining and pattern recognition solutions. He is the inventor and patent holder of numerous algorithms and computer programs. Dr. Hitt’s works include inventions for analyzing disparate data streams, near real-time analysis of audio and text information streams, applications for the detection of credit card fraud, optimization solutions for direct marketing problems and pattern recognition algorithms for early detection of disease.  Dr. Hitt received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from West Virginia University and his B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from West Liberty State College. He has published over 40 scientific papers based on his research and development experience. Presently, Dr. Hitt is Assistant Professor of Industrial Electronics at Belmont College in St. Clairsville OH.

Speaker 3: Mr. Howdy Henritz 

Howdy Henritz is president of the Indian Creek Watershed Association (IWCA, in Monroe County, WV. Established in 1996, the IWCA’s mission is the preservation and protection of Monroe County’s abundant, pure water. The IWCA provides education and outreach activities that lead to citizens’ involvement with watershed issues and local planning efforts are the key to water protection within the watershed. Mr. Henritz started the Sweet Springs Valley Water Company in 1990 and managed the company from 1990-2014. He has been active in the IWCA since its inception.

Sponsors of this event:

This presentation is supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Award Number OIA-1458952.

The series is organized by the non-profit Capstone Group, Inc. (, in cooperation with the Institute of Water Security and Science at West Virginia University (

Funding for this series is provided by the Walmart Foundation and its affiliate store in Triadelphia, WV.

Additional support is provided by Ohio County Public Library.

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