South Mountain Research Corps & Science Summit

South Mountain Partnership, the Pennsylvania Conservation Landscape Initiative located in south central Pennsylvania, launched its newest initiative, the South Mountain Research Corps (SMRC) during an Inaugural Science Summit in April 2019. SMRC is envisioned as a program that is managed by a volunteer working committee, comprised of stakeholders from throughout the region (land owners, land managers, academic institutions, and researchers), that assists the South Mountain Partnership in creating and managing:

  • The South Mountain Science Summit: Strengthens channels of communication and builds a collaborative network of property owners, land managers, researchers, and university students throughout the South Mountain region;  


  • The South Mountain Research Corps: Develops, builds, and sustains a highly regarded applied research program that supports existing and emerging natural and cultural resource conservation efforts of land owners and land managers throughout the South Mountain landscape;


  • A Research Database: Catalogues the research that has previously occurred and develops a comprehensive understanding of the amount and focus of research being conducted on the South Mountain landscape;


  • Highly regarded experiential applied research opportunities to college students throughout the region, as well as provide a network to connect them with researchers and practitioners for internship and career opportunities.

SMRC endeavors to build an implementable, collaborative research program that supports the existing and emerging natural and cultural resource conservation efforts of land owners and land managers throughout the South Mountain landscape.

South Mountain Research Catalog

The next step of this project will be building a research catalog of previous projects conducted in the South Mountain region. Stay tuned to see how you can help provide information about previous work conducted on your land, or by your institution!

While South Mountain Partnership will continue to convene and facilitate the South Mountain Research Corps & Science Summit, the program’s quality and success also depends on engagement from landowners, land managers, students, researchers, academic institutions, non-profits, and agency partners.

We need you to consider how you can directly participate in helping to form and build this worthwhile program that benefits people and organizations who steward the land throughout the South Mountain landscape – our young people, property owners, researchers, land managers, academic institutions, + more!

Contact the Center for Land Use and Sustainability ([email protected]; 717-477-1509) to learn more and see how you can get involved!


  • Follow-up on potential research projects identified at April Science Summit and develop specific research questions;
  • Follow-up with Researchers for interest, availability, student recruitment


  • Research Corps Committee Meets (contact us if you are interested in attending)
  • Begin development of Research Database
  • Outreach to Land Managers and Non-profits regarding contacting their landowners for project needs


  • Begin adding research questions to database
  • Initiate Research Projects(develop requirements, research proposal, funding requests, grant awards)
  • Formalize South Mountain Research Corps Committee (contact us if you are interested in serving)
  • Research team land access agreement
  • RFP and Selection process
  • Funding requests
  • Seed money, fund initial meetings


  • Monitor research projects
  • Continue building database
  • South Mountain Research Corps Committee meeting (contact us if you are interested in serving)
  • Develop funding


The inaugural Science Summit focused on building connections between Landowners & Land Managers (private and public) and Researchers (academic institutions, university students and partners, conservation organizations and partners). These connections are the foundation for building an implementable program that considers land management logistics as well as academic institution capacity.

Click here for a summary of the event or contact us for more information.

One goal of SMRC is to improve communication among researchers by providing a catalog of previous work and venue to collaborate. Let us know what work you have done in the region! More information on the research catalog is coming soon.

Target Audiences: Land owners (private and public, large and small), land managers (private and public, large and small), researchers, university students and partners, conservation organizations and partners.

This initiative was first articulated by the South Mountain Partnership in a 2013 concept paper that introduced the idea of a South Mountain GIS (geospatial information systems) Corps. In December 2016, this proposal was reintroduced to the South Mountain Leadership Committee, where discussion led to the current vision of a broader research corps while recognizing that GIS will still play a central role. The establishment of a Corps was also identified as one of the budgeted goals of the South Mountain Partnership. At that time, Katie Hess, the director of the South Mountain Partnership, and Dr. Claire Jantz, director of the Center for Land Use and Sustainability at Shippensburg University, began to discuss how partnerships could make the South Mountain Research Corps a reality. Read more below or contact us to learn how you can get involved.

CLUS Affiliate Scientists:

Kate Nicholson

Undergraduate Student Fellow

Kate is a junior Sustainability major, pursuing a biology minor and Geographic Information Systems certificate. Her interests within the field include climate change, rare and endangered species, carbon footprint assessments, and tracking pollination habits and bee populations. In her free...

Claire Jantz, Ph.D. – Past Director

Deputy Secretary

B.A. in College Scholars from University of Tennessee M.A. in Geography from University of Maryland Ph.D. in Geography from University of Maryland Dr. Claire Jantz is the former Director of the CLUS. She has extensive expertise in land use and land cover change...
College of Arts & Sciences

Antonia Price

Project Manager, Department of Geography-Earth Science

H.B.S. in Biology from University of Utah Antonia received an Honors Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Utah, with Undergraduate Research Scholar designation. As Project Manager for the Center for Land Use and Sustainability, she oversees...
College of Arts & Sciences

Patricia Newdeck

Graduate Student Fellow

Trish applied her BS in Geosciences (Penn State) toward an environmental consulting career where she performed soil and groundwater investigations and designed remediations plans for industrial and petrochemical clients.  As an SU graduate student, Trish is gaining GIS processing skills and and land use...