Staff Spotlight: Sherman Roberts and Michael Gentile

350 251 Stroud Water Research Center

By Diane Huskinson

Roberts and Gentile sample White Clay Creek in baseflow and stormflow conditions, producing a wealth of data for many different projects. Photo: Kay Dixon

Ask anyone at Stroud Water Research Center what makes working here great, and most often you’ll hear that it’s the people.

“We’re like a family,” says staff scientist Sherman Roberts. Many of those who call the Center home, Roberts included, have had lifelong careers here.

While mission matters, it’s the people who make the Center’s research and related endeavors successful. “We’re fortunate to have a core group of scientists, researchers, educators, administrative personnel, and support staff all working together for, in many cases, decades,” Roberts says. “There’s a cohesiveness here that comes from having individuals with so much expertise in the work we do here.”

Not counting senior scientists, the aggregate of experience among the current technical staff is over 150 years.

Roberts joined the Center’s staff in 1972, and he’s been working alongside friend and colleague Mike Gentile, also a staff scientist, since Gentile was hired in 1997.

Working Behind the Scenes

Gentile maintains and upgrades many of the Center’s complex instruments such as this one for measuring anions, cations, and carbohydrates. Photo: Kay Dixon

As researchers often do, Roberts and Gentile work behind the scenes, keeping the labs running and processing multitudes of samples for some of the most notable projects in Stroud Water Research Center history such as the metaecosystems project.

And they’ve both traveled as far as Costa Rica in the name of Stroud science — Roberts five times and Gentile, 15.

Friends As Well As Colleagues

Of Gentile, Roberts says he not only performs cutting-edge analyses, but he is also an expert at maintaining and upgrading many of the Center’s instruments. “He’s tenacious in working through the many challenges that confront us — sometimes on a daily basis. I am fortunate to have him as a co-worker and a friend.”

Roberts feeding stream water to the Center’s patented bioreactors. The bioreactors measure how efficiently bacteria consume dissolved organic matter. Photo: Kay Dixon

Of Roberts, Gentile says he’s “reliable and dependable. He has a sense of humor. He’s confident. He’s a good problem solver. And we have a good time together.”

Married to wife Eleanor for 32 years, Roberts has a son Christopher, who is studying at American University. He and his wife live in Springfield, Pa.

Gentile and his wife of thirteen years, Susan, have two children: Connor (nine) and Cameron (three). They live in Oxford, Pa.