Chevron | A Thriving Partnership for Graduate Student Research and High-Tech Monitoring

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The Chevron Cincinnati Facility, nestled between the bluffs of the Great Miami River Valley, covers approximately 500 acres in a rural residential area west of Cincinnati, Ohio. This facility, which was once an active, operating refinery, is going through the remediation process and now provides a vibrant ecosystem for wildlife.

“When people go out to the site they’re always impressed with how it doesn’t look like an old refinery… It’s a thriving ecosystem.”

One of the key successes of the program is its innovative educational program dedicated to training the next generation of environmental scientists through research related to the site’s habitat and species projects. Through this program, graduate students at the University of Cincinnati, summer interns, and new employee hires conduct research and work on restoration and enhancement projects in their own areas of expertise. Mentoring of less experienced students and interns by professional staff contributes to the success of this program, as well as encouragement of students to pursue stretch goals that challenge their abilities.

The team’s relationship with the University of Cincinnati is a particularly strong one and has been ongoing for several years. Students have participated in several research projects over the years, including game camera surveys, rodent surveys, and studies of insect production in subsurface areas. Currently, the students are studying the use of automated Acoustic Monitoring Devices (AMDs), which record snippets of ambient noise in habitats such as the site’s vernal pools, where there is a fair amount of vocalizing from frogs and birds. Special software is then used to identify the various species from the recording. Doctoral students are working to build up the recognizer files that are used to positively identify species that are recorded by the AMDs.

According to Karel Schnebele, Project Manager- Refining Business Unit at Chevron, who currently leads the site’s team, one of the goals of developing the AMDs is “to see if [using AMDs] is as effective as doing a more traditional survey.”

As with many partnerships at certified programs, this relationship with the university is a win-win for all parties involved. It benefits students, whose research contributes to the students’ education and to their thesis or dissertation research. Development and refinement of the AMDs as a wildlife research tool also helps Chevron, making it safer and easier to monitor wildlife activity with an automated system, and putting Chevron at the cutting edge of wildlife monitoring technology that could be used at other sites.

With thriving habitats and a successful educational partnership, Ms. Schnebele is glad that visitors react so positively to the site: “When people go out to the site they’re always impressed with how it doesn’t look like a prior refinery site. It’s pretty amazing out there….It’s a thriving ecosystem.”

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Quick Facts

Site Name:Chevron Cincinnati Facility
Category:Member Spotlight
Tags:Education & Awareness, formal learning, Remediation Member Spotlight
Site Location:Cleves, Ohio
Partners:Chevron Energy Technology Company, Chevron Environmental Management Company, Trihydro Corporation, University of Cincinnati
Certification Since:2002
WHC Index Link:View Project
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