Syracuse University Magazine

Research Snapshots


Life Down Under: The Forgotten Hyporheic Zone in Stream Restoration

Project: Life Down Under: The Forgotten Hyporheic Zone in Stream Restoration and Development of a Bioindicator of Subsurface Recovery

Investigator: Laura K. Lautz

Department: Earth Sciences

Sponsors: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems; National Science Foundation

Amounts Awarded: 

$100,000 (2009-2010, EPA); 

$463,056 (2010-2014, NSF)

Background: Billions are spent annually on restoration projects aimed at reestablishing the diversity of natural stream systems. Restoration often includes installation of rock structures that mimic natural streambed morphology. These projects typically fail to consider the interaction of stream water with the subsurface (hyporheic zone) at restoration sites. The hyporheic zone provides refugia for biota, moderates water temperature extremes, and supports a unique invertebrate community that interacts with and contributes to surface ecosystem function. Although stream restoration has been shown to induce hyporheic exchange, effects on subsurface ecological communities have not been studied. In collaboration with SUNY ESF, Lautz and her colleagues will examine stream restoration structure influences on subsurface biological heterogeneity.

Impact: Researchers believe that stream restoration structures produce measurable changes in hydraulic and biological characteristics of the subsurface environment, which move restored sites along a trajectory toward recovery. Timing of biotic recovery to stream restoration has received relatively little study and hyporheic community recovery is unstudied. Thus, this study’s findings will make an important contribution to the understanding of subsurface biotic response to current stream restoration practices. 


Generating Political Priority for Newborn Survival

Project: Generating Political Priority for Newborn Survival Nationally and Globally

Investigator: Jeremy Shiffman

Department: Public Administration/Alan K. Campbell Institute

Sponsor: Gates Foundation-funded Saving Newborn Lives program of Save the Children USA

Amount awarded: 

$364,709 (2008-2010)

Background: Each year approximately four million babies die before reaching one month of age, the vast majority in developing countries. Forty percent of deaths to children under age 5 occur in the first 28 days. Cost-effective solutions exist to prevent most of these deaths, but are not implemented. One reason may be a lack of political attention to the problem, both globally and in countries with high newborn mortality. This project investigates the extent to which organizations involved in global health are devoting attention and resources to newborn survival, and the political factors that shape attention levels. The project is also examining political attention in four countries with high levels of newborn deaths: Bangladesh, Bolivia, Malawi, and Nepal. 

Impact: It is hoped that findings from these studies will be used to analyze and transcend the political barriers that prevent sufficient attention to the issue of newborn mortality. The project’s findings should also contribute to knowledge generation surrounding the question of why some global health issues attract great attention, while others, despite high mortality burden, are neglected.