Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries

Our Growing Hudson Valley Campus

For nearly 20 years, Clarkson University’s Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries has served as a multidisciplinary resource for academic programs, public education and scientific research, helping to advance science, promote environmental literacy and inform long-term public policy.

Our mission is to ignite citizen science, user-inspired research and development, and education through collaboration and creative innovation to inspire sustainable solutions for estuary and freshwater ecosystems throughout the Hudson Valley and across New York state.

Clarkson’s Beacon Institute offers K–12 environmental and STEM education programs, public and family programs, and professional graduate programs at our locations in Beacon, NY:

  • Gallery and Headquarters
    199 Main Street, Beacon, NY
  • Water Ecology Center
    199 Dennings Avenue, Beacon, NY

Professional Graduate Programs


Students in classroom at Beacon Institute

Master of Science in Engineering Management — Clarkson University has a long-standing tradition of developing advanced engineering, manufacturing and technological skills. In conjunction with industry partners, Clarkson has designed a truly interdisciplinary program that spans the boundaries of engineering and business specifically for technically focused organizations. Our partnerships ensure that this program meets the demanding and evolving needs of the engineering industry.

The Master of Science in Engineering Management (MSEM) program addresses complex management and leadership issues in technical environments. MSEM students in this blended learning, cohort-based program are immersed in an authentic learning community that leverages the combined experience of the group. The resulting collaborative environment creates sustained discourse, allowing students to apply what they have learned in real time.

IBM, Turner Construction Company, United Technologies Corporation, Urban Engineers and the National Society of Professional Engineers help shape the program to ensure it meets the specific needs of industry leaders now and in the future. It’s a successful formula for companies and students. As their capstone project, Clarkson MSEM students take what they’ve learned and apply it to a project developed in conjunction with their companies.

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Thought Leadership & Research


Research lies at the core of Clarkson’s mission and vision and aligns with our focus on healthy world solutions.

Sustainable Solutions in New York State

CU Honors Student in lab for Summer Research Program

Clarkson, in partnership with SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, is launching New York state’s new Center of Excellence in Healthy Water Solutions. This collaboration, focused on addressing complex challenges around aquatic systems and water infrastructures, will allow experts and students to deliver technology innovations and research-based solutions with local partners. The Center will work with industry and government to develop early warning systems to monitor, model, predict and avoid threats to water and the natural environment. The Center will also develop management best practices and ecosystem designs to improve the resilience of New York state’s water assets.

Impacting the Hudson Valley

Clarkson faculty are currently working to remedy environmental challenges that are impacting Hudson Valley communities and ecosystems. Such research projects include:

  • Providing expertise for the timely removal and effective management of invasive European Water Chestnuts in the Hudson River
  • Developing approaches to treat PFASs in groundwater, the same suite of more than 3,000 contaminants that has tainted the water in Newburgh, NY

Other Educational Opportunities


K–12 Environmental Programs

River of Words — River of Words (ROW) is a New York state aligned curriculum that connects school-age children to the Hudson watershed, educating them about Hudson Valley ecology and empowering them to understand and protect natural resources. ROW educators work with local classroom teachers to help students gain proficiency in English language arts (ELA) and science through nature-based workshops. Students produce writing and art pieces that transform fun ROW experiences into serious learning outcomes. ROW trains teachers to use nature as a learning laboratory. Its nature-inspired, outdoor-based programming is aligned with the New York State P-12 Learning Standards for ELA and science.

Watershed Education Through STEM — Clarkson’s Beacon Institute works with Hudson Valley area high schools to conduct tributary assessments in the Hudson River watershed. Watershed Education Through STEM (WET STEM) is a two-day project- and place-based learning module. Students spend one day in the field using equipment to gather data and samples and one day in the lab analyzing samples, collating data and publishing results.

Professional Development for Educators — Clarkson’s Institute for STEM Education and the Beacon City School District have partnered to offer Hands-On, Minds-On: Modeling Across STEM Disciplines, a teacher training program funded by the New York State Education Department. In this Mathematics Science Partnership professional development program, Clarkson faculty train science and math teachers to use modeling effectively in their lessons.

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Public and Family Programs

Child holding a crab

WOW! for Kids — This hands-on nature education program brings children face-to-face with live animals

Summer Science — These summer camp programs deliver fun, science-focused learning experiences. Clarkson’s Beacon Institute collaborates with school districts in the Hudson Valley and New York City to tailor programming led by water scientists, zoologists and ROW educators.

Walk & Talks — These informative and engaging naturalist trail walks around Denning’s Point are led by regional experts. Private, tailored tours are provided for large groups by request.

Annual Park Cleanup Initiative — This initiative is a volunteer opportunity to give back to the community and maintain the beauty of Hudson Highlands State Park, Denning’s Point State Park and Clarkson’s Water Ecology Center.

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Portrait of Asher Pacht, Director of Environmental Programs

New York and the U.S. face a shortage of millions of STEM workers. Worldwide, water is an ever-increasing focus of research and restoration efforts. We can inspire young people to enjoy, pursue and stay in the sciences by integrating enrichment programs with real-world experiences and the arts. The next generation of STEM students and professionals is poised to make major positive impacts on water science and beyond for New York, the U.S. and the world.”

Asher Pacht, Director of Environmental Programs