The history of PLE

The Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology has been a tremendous resource for students and researchers throughout the region for more than 80 years!

1926 - The University of Pittsburgh established a biological fieldstation at Presque Isle, PA on the shores of Lake Erie. Below is a portion of the poster advertising summer courses in 1929.


19491949 - The field station moved from Presque Isle to Pymatuning State Park. The University of Pittsburgh obtained a lease from the state for a 13-acre wooded peninsula adjacent to the Pennsylvania State Fish Hatchery; this site is known as the Sanctuary Lake Site.

The first building was constructed on this site in 1952; over time, more research buildings were erected at the Sanctuary Lake site to satisfy the educational and research needs of the University of Pittsburgh, as well as faculty and students from other colleges and universities in western Pennsylvania. Some original classrooms still offer spectacular views overlooking the protected waters of Sanctuary Lake.

19651965 - The ever-growing population at the Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology had now out-grown the facilities at the Sanctuary Lake site. The University obtained a second lease from the Pymatuning State Park for a dedicated Housing Site.

This site now has modern facilities for housing instructors, researchers, and students as well as a Dining Hall, Kitchen, and Recreation Hall. As the Housing site expanded and developed, the Sanctuary Lake site was dedicated to maintaining modern research and teaching facilities.

The new millennium

The new millennium - During the most recent decade, the University of Pittsburgh invested a considerable amount of additional resources to renovate and expand facilities and add a great deal of land for PLE. This has included the acquisition of three research properties - Wallace Woods, Beagle Road, and the Livingston Farm, providing a total of 360 acres - and the construction of five labs, an administrative office complex, a library, and a seven-apartment complex for researchers.

Throughout the years, students, researchers, and retreat-goers have amazing experiences at PLE!