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Dolan Fund for Innovative Water Research

The Academy of Natural Sciences' watershed field crew heads downstream after collecting algae samples from the Upper Paulins Kill River in the New Jersey Highlands. Photo by Tess Hooper
Fieldwork in action. The Academy's watershed field crew heads downstream after collecting algae samples from the Upper Paulins Kill River in the New Jersey Highlands. Photo by Tess Hooper

December 19, 2017

Water scarcity is one of the greatest challenges of our time, according to the United Nations. For the Dolan family of Philadelphia, water runs deep and personal.

Almost 90 years ago, Philadelphia-area naturalist/adventurist, Brooke Dolan II, led expeditions to western China and Tibet and collected the Asian mammals on exhibit in the dioramas of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. He and his colleagues also brought back thousands of other specimens to study at a time when the world looked to natural history museums for information on countless little-known species.

Today Dolan’s grand-nephew and namesake is at the forefront of another challenge and is taking action to fill a critical gap. The Academy has announced that Dolan family members have pledged $3 million to establish the Dolan Fund for Innovative Water Research.

“Water is sure to be one of the biggest issues we’re faced with and one that affects every person we know,” said Brooke Dolan of Chester Springs, Pa. “Our thought is to start funding watershed ecology research so public and private organizations will be better prepared when it comes to the planning that will be needed.

“This is an important time for private funding of watershed research,” Dolan said. “Governments, for example, tend to be reactive not proactive, and the research that the Academy can be doing will provide governments and infrastructure planners with the tools to act more wisely.

“We chose the Academy since it already has a legacy of researching water issues and its affiliation with Drexel University and others makes it a strong platform that will last indefinitely,” Dolan said. “We believe the Academy has the better approach.”

The generous donation also is made possible by Dolan’s cousin Sarah Dolan Price of Philadelphia and siblings Margaret Chew Dolan of Philadelphia and Thomas Dolan V of Oakland, Calif. Several years ago Price and family endowed the Brooke Dolan Archivist position in the Academy’s Library and Archives. Dolans also have given generously over the years.

The Dolan Fund will encourage innovative research on watershed ecology and provide leading support for a new post-doctoral fellow position in watershed ecology that will be called the Dolan Fellow for Innovative Water Research. In advance of funding a $2.5 million endowment in 2027, the Dolan family will donate $50,000 each year to be matched by the Academy.

Read more at the Academy of Natural Sciences blog