Penn State Harrisburg professor, alumna appointed to Chesapeake Bay committee

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. -- Shirley Clark, professor of environmental engineering in Penn State Harrisburg’s School of Science, Engineering and Technology, and Erin Letavic, a 2011 graduate of the master of environmental engineering program at Penn State Harrisburg, have been appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf as the Pennsylvania representatives to the Chesapeake Bay Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC). 

This is the first time a faculty member or alumnus from a Penn State Commonwealth Campus has been selected to serve on the committee. 

"It’s great to see Penn State Harrisburg get the recognition, through the Bay program, as having a faculty that does teaching and research… important enough to be on their advisory panel,” Clark said. 

Letavic was a student of Clark’s when she entered the graduate program in 2007. Since her graduation in 2011, Letavic and Clark have frequently crossed paths over the years through their respective work in the environmental engineering field. Letavic is now a civil engineering senior project manager at Herbert, Rowland, & Grubic, Inc., a design firm providing civil engineering, surveying, and environmental services. 

"To me, it’s very neat to serve with somebody that I had as a student, that graduated from our program, and that I highly respect,” Clark said. “I think the work she’s done since graduating has been amazing.” 

Letavic and Clark’s appointment on the STAC began in October and lasts from 2021 to 2025. 

The committee is a group of experts who provide guidance to the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay program on how to use science to restore the bay. Even though the committee’s aim is to restore the bay, it also affects the local communities. 

“For people in Pennsylvania who don’t always feel that connection to the bay, all the work we do here simply makes our streams cleaner and healthier,” Clark said. “Any work we do, we see locally also.” 

With her 30+ years of experience in storm water management and hydrology, Clark hopes to bring practical research expertise and extensive knowledge to her new role on the STAC. She is also excited to bring real world experience to the classroom, so her students can learn how their education can be applied to the workforce.

“There’s a lot of good work going on at the Commonwealth Campuses and I’m glad to see that we can get that recognition, and I’m proud to be that person to represent us,” Clark said.