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August 17, 2023

The partnership is Indiana’s first U.S. Geological Survey Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University will host a new collaborative U.S. Geological Survey research unit focused on delivering actionable science addressing fish, wildlife, plants and other natural resources in Indiana and beyond, including the connection between the health of wildlife and the health of people.

The Indiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, or CRU, that Purdue will host, brings together the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Purdue University, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Wildlife Management Institute.

“An Indiana CRU has been a long time coming and we are thrilled to welcome the new unit to the CRU family” said Jonathan Mawdsley, USGS Cooperative Research Units chief. “We look forward to working with all of the cooperators to provide world-class scientific research, graduate student training and technical assistance to our partners in Indiana.”

The Indiana unit will be the 43rd USGS Cooperative Research Unit in a nationwide program that began in 1935. The program’s goal is to increase opportunities for graduate education in fisheries and wildlife science and to facilitate research and technical assistance between natural resources agencies and universities.

Though the CRU will be focused on natural resource management needs in the state of Indiana, many of these are also regional needs on which the USFWS will advise and coordinate.

“The creation of this new unit is another milestone in the highly successful USGS Cooperative Research Units Program, and we are proud to join the state of Indiana, Purdue University, the USGS, Wildlife Management Institute and the others to address conservation questions facing Indiana and the region,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Science Applications Program Assistant Regional Director Craig Czarnecki. “We look forward to engaging with the students and professionals at Purdue University as we co-develop scientific research and support the next generation of conservationists.”

Yellow Creek near Oak Grove, IN - downstream view
Science produced by the new Indiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit will address fish, wildlife and other natural resources, including the connection between the health of wildlife and the health of people.

The CRU Program is results focused, bringing together natural resource managers and researchers to work as a team to address the most pressing natural resource management needs with science. As such, the partnerships formalized with the creation of CRUs lead to true co-production of research.

“Data and research constantly drive our decision making as we work to wisely manage Indiana’s natural, cultural and recreational resources,” said Indiana DNR Director Dan Bortner. “Through this new partnership, we will gain greater information about supporting stronger ecosystems for wildlife and people alike across the state.”

But CRUs don’t just tackle management needs. They do so while cultivating the next generation of scientists and resource managers. The new Indiana CRU will focus on education, training and outreach related to natural resources vital not only to Indiana, but the Midwest and regional economies as well.

Like all CRUs, the Indiana CRU will consist of 2-5 federal scientists along with graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and administrative specialists. Federal scientists will serve as faculty at Purdue University, teaching graduate-level courses, supervising graduate students and postdocs, offering workshops for students and cooperators and conducting research on natural resources topics. Once created, each CRU formalizes research priorities, like aquatic conservation or wildlife disease. Indiana CRU partners will decide these in the coming months.

“We look forward to the tremendous opportunity that collaboration with the Indiana CRU will bring to our state and Purdue University,” said Karen Plaut, executive vice president of research at Purdue University. “It will have a direct impact on graduate education as well as research productivity and innovation.”

The CRU Program is highly productive. In fiscal year 2022 alone, CRU scientists and students published 416 scientific journal articles in 175 peer-reviewed journals. That productivity is possible because the CRUs involve more than 500 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the scientific process, which also increases innovation.

Bringing institutions with different missions together to work toward shared goals is no small task. Coordination is paramount. That’s where the Wildlife Management Institute comes in—they help bring the CRU partners together to facilitate the successful collaboration CRUs are known for.

“The addition of Indiana to the USGS Cooperative Units Program is a proud moment for WMI, the only national, private cooperator,” said WMI President Tony Wasley. “WMI was involved in the creation of the CRU Program in 1935, and we applaud the 2023 agreement as this new unit will serve as a model for researchers to work collaboratively with the conservation community to benefit wildlife and their habitats. It is especially exciting to have this multi-agency program bringing together the passion and expertise of partners and resources to open new doors of opportunity and to learn and apply the best available natural resource science to real-world, real-time challenges.”

The new Indiana CRU will begin operations once new USGS CRU staff are in place at Purdue University, planned for 2024.

To learn more about the USGS CRU Program, please visit the Cooperative Research Units Program website.





The USGS provides science for a changing world. The USGS is a primary federal source of science-based information on ecosystems, land use, energy and mineral resources, natural hazards, water use and availability, and updated maps and images of the Earth’s features available to the public. Learn more at or follow us on Facebook @USGeologicalSurvey, YouTube @USGS, Instagram @USGS, or Twitter @USGS.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is dedicated to protecting, enhancing, preserving, and wisely using natural, cultural, and recreational resources for the benefit of Indiana's citizens through professional leadership, management, and education. Through its Division of Fish and Wildlife, DNR provides for the protection, reproduction, care, management, survival and regulation of wild animal populations, as well as organizes and pursues a program of research and management of wildlife that will serve the best interests of the resources and the people of Indiana. For more information, visit

Purdue University is a public research institution with excellence at scale. Ranked among top 10 public universities (Times Higher Education/Wall Street Journal and QS), with two colleges in the top 4 in the United States (U.S. News & World Report), Purdue discovers and disseminates knowledge with a quality and at a scale second to none. More than 105,000 students study at Purdue across modalities and locations, with 50,000 in person on the West Lafayette campus. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue’s main campus has frozen tuition 12 years in a row. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap, including its first comprehensive urban campus in Indianapolis, the new Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, and Purdue Innovates, at

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws/gov.

The Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) is a professional conservation organization founded in 1911 that works to improve the professional foundation of wildlife management and advance wildlife science. The organization’s founders were gravely concerned about the dramatic declines of many wildlife populations and saw a need for a small, independent, and aggressive cadre of people dedicated to restoring and ensuring the well-being of wild populations and their habitats. WMI is the only private partner of the Cooperative Research Unit (CRU) program and has served in that role since the inception of the CRU program in 1935. More at http://WildlifeManagement.Institute.

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