Kentucky State University in Frankfort is expanding its aquatic research capabilities to the nearby Kentucky River. KSU’s regents have approved the use of federal funds to purchase a $320,000 dollar floating laboratory.
Dr. James Tidwell, head of the university’s aquaculture program, says the vessel will be used to research water quality and fish and freshwater mussel populations, and for graduate programs, like the master’s in environmental studies.
“We would bring school groups in, college groups in, teach them all about the history of the river – geology of how it formed, all the flora/fauna – and then be able to walk them out the back after this pre-teach and put them on the boat now and really let them see what it is that they’ve been looking at in almost a museum setting, but now see it in life and in real time,” he said.
A Kentucky company is building the 52-foot, 48-passenger houseboat, which should be outfitted and ready for launch by next spring. The boat will be docked near the old federal building in Frankfort, which KSU recently purchased.