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Summer Lecture Series

The annual Summer Lecture Series at the University of Michigan Biological Station explores scientific topics and celebrates notable achievements. Our lecture series is free and open to the public, allowing interested community members to learn more about the natural world.

Our series features weekly All-Camp Lectures and Research Seminars. Speakers from all over the country and the UMBS Community are invited to participate and share their work. We encorage everyone, including our students, faculty, researchers, and the public, to attend.

All events start at 7:30 pm in the Marian P. and David M. Gates Lecture Hall Auditorium (All-Camp Lectures) or Alumni Room (Research Seminars). Please join us!

ANNOUNCING: The 2017 Summer Lecture Series!

Click to view the 2017 schedule.

 

Our endowed lectures honor former instructors at UMBS:

  • Ralph E. Bennett Lecture in Mycology and Plant Biology
  • Harry Hann Lecture in Ornithology
  • Olin Sweall Pettingill Lecture in Natural History

 

This year's endowed lecturers are:

  • Dr. Alexandra Harmon-Threatt, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Bennett Lecturer
  • Dr. Jordan Price, St. Mary's College of Maryland, Hann Lecturer
  • Dr. Arthur Gold, University of Rhode Island, Pettingill Lecturer

June 27: Restoring the Maple River: Lake Kathleen Dam Removal

The Lake Kathleen Dam along the Maple River near UMBS is slated to be removed. Come learn about the project and ask questions from the stakeholders overseeing and implementing the removal.

Tuesday, June 27, 7:30 p.m.

All-Camp Lecture, Gates Lecture Hall

The Conservation Resource Alliance (CRA) will lead a discussion panel of area experts about the upcoming dam removal project on the Maple River at Lake Kathleen, which is located near the University of Michigan Biological Station. The dam removal is part of a wider effort to “free span” the Maple River, which means restoring the river to a more natural flow pattern.

Participating in the discussion panel will be:
Chris Pierce, CRA Project Manager and Biologist;
Kira Davis, CRA Program Director;
Matt Kowalski, Fish Biologist for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Alpena FWCO;
Neal Godby, MDNR Fisheries Biologist for Lake Huron Basin; and
Caroline Keson and Max Field of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Natural Resource Department.

During the talk, our speakers will explain the dam removal project and the process for removing the dam at Lake Kathleen. They will also contextualize the project and illustrate the vision, work, and coordination it requires, including the regulatory and permitting process. The speakers also seek to explain why dam removal and river restoration efforts are valuable and important.

July 5: Pollinator Conservation: Are Current Efforts Enough?

Wednesday, July 5, 7:30 p.m.

All-Camp Lecture, Gates Lecture Hall

Dr. Alexandra Harmon-Threatt

Dr. Alexandra Harmon-Threatt will give this talk on Pollinator Conservation Ecology, as the Bennett endowed lecturer at UMBS.

Dr. Harmon-Threatt is a pollination ecologist with broad interests in understanding the patterns and processes that govern plant-pollinator interactions for conservation. As an Assistant Professor of Entomology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, she and her students focus on identifying and understanding patterns in natural environments to help conserve and restore pollinator diversity. With a particular focus on bees, she investigates how plant diversity, fire, grazing and fragmentation, affect bee diversity in local communities.

Dr. Harmon-Threatt completed her Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. She continued her studies at the University of California Berkeley, studying under Dr. Claire Kremen, and received her PhD in Environmental Science Policy and Management.

July 6: Investigating Plant-pollinator Interactions for Conservation

Thursday, July 6, 7:30 p.m.

Research Seminar, Alumni Room in Gates Lecture Hall (second floor)

As the Bennett endowed lecturer at UMBS, Dr. Alexandra Harmon-Threatt will give a research seminar this summer.

Dr. Harmon-Threatt is a pollination ecologist with broad interests in understanding the patterns and processes that govern plant-pollinator interactions for conservation. As an Assistant Professor of Entomology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, she and her students focus on identifying and understanding patterns in natural environments to help conserve and restore pollinator diversity. With a particular focus on bees, she investigates how plant diversity, fire, grazing and fragmentation, affect bee diversity in local communities.

Dr. Harmon-Threatt completed her Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. She continued her studies at the University of California Berkeley, studying under Dr. Claire Kremen, and received her PhD in Environmental Science Policy and Management.

July 11: Legal Protection of Pollinators

Legal Protection of Pollinators: Efforts in the Courts and Legislatures to Defend and Restore These Critically Threatened Insects

Tuesday, July 11, 7:30 p.m.

All-Camp Lecture, Gates Lecture Hall

Aaron Colangelo

Butterflies and bees serve a crucial role pollinating the country’s crops and wild plants. But pollinator populations have plummeted in recent decades. In 2015, more than 40 percent of honeybee colonies in the United States died. This year, the Fish and Wildlife Service designated the first ever bee species—the rusty patched bumble bee—as an endangered species, after the bee’s presence dwindled to only 0.1% of its historical range. And today, the migrating monarch butterfly population has declined to a small fraction of its size from twenty years ago. Pesticides, habitat loss, and other factors all appear to be contributing to these declines.

This lecture will summarize legal protections for pollinators, and will discuss efforts in the courts and in state and federal legislatures to defend and restore pollinator health.

Aaron Colangelo is the Litigation Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. He served as lead counsel in several dozen cases for NRDC, including lawsuits related to coastal water quality, migrant farmworker health, drinking water contamination, food safety, hazardous waste cleanup, and pollinator protections.

Prior to joining NRDC, Colangelo practiced at a private law firm and a nonprofit legal services clinic in Washington, D.C. He also taught as an adjunct professor at Howard University School of Law for three years. He graduated from Penn State University and Harvard Law School, where he was an editor on the Harvard Law Review.

July 18: Watershed Protection Efforts That Really Work!

Watershed Protection Efforts That Really Work! A conversation between leaders of the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council and the Anacostia River Watershed Society of Washington, DC

Tuesday, July 18, 7:30 p.m.

All-Camp Lecture, Gates Lecture Hall

This All-Camp Lecture will draw comparisons between rural and metropolitan watershed protection efforts, using two vastly different communities as case studies. Gail Gruenwald of the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council and Jim Foster of the Anacostia River Watershed Society will discuss what similar challenges and issues they face, as well as discussing how management in the two areas (Northern Michigan and Washington DC) differ. The discussion will be moderated by UMBS Interim Director Linda Greer. 

Gail Gruenwald is the Executive Director and Staff Attorney for the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, having been with the council for more than 30 years. Over the years, she has served on many state, local, and non-profit boards and commissions. Non-profits from across the region seek her organizational management advice. Gail received her Bachelor of Science from Central Michigan University and her Law Degree from University of Oregon. She is a member of Michigan and Washington State Bar Associations. Gail and her family live in Harbor Springs.

Jim Foster is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Anacostia River Watershed Society. He has a degree in Environmental Resource Management from the Pennsylvania State University, State College. He is responsible for implementing the organization’s strategic plan, articulating the group’s vision for a swimmable and fishable Anacostia River, and building and leading the AWS staff. He has a broad range of experience in environmental restoration and management efforts along the East Coast. Jim and his family live just steps from the Chesapeake Bay. 

July 25: Mercury Pollution: A Global Threat with a Global Solution Now in Hand

Tuesday, July 25, 7:30 p.m.

All-Camp Lecture, Gates Lecture Hall

Dr. Linda Greer

Mercury is a notorious neurotoxic pollutant with a global footprint: it travels far from its sources of release on other continents to contaminate the fish we eat here as well as the wildlife we love. This talk will describe the global sources of mercury pollution and provide an insider’s account of the successful negotiation of an international treaty that will substantially reduce mercury use and release in the years ahead. 

Dr. Linda Greer, the Interim Director of the University of Michigan Biological Station, will share her work as a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Working in environmental advocacy since the 1990s, environmental toxicologist Dr. Greer focuses on toxic chemicals in air, water, food, and shelter. During the talk, she will explain how the NRDC worked to address the problem of mercury pollution, and how non-governmental organizations work with governments and other stakeholders to effectuate change, such as implementing global binding treaties.

Dr. Greer has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Tufts University, a master's in environmental science and engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a PhD in environmental toxicology from the University of Maryland. 

July 26: The Surprising Role of Disturbance in Maintaining Forest Carbon Sequestration

Wednesday, July 26, 7:30 p.m.

Research Seminar, Alumni Room in Gates Lecture Hall (second floor)

Forests, an integral component of Earth’s carbon cycle, have shown unexpected carbon sequestration resilience following moderate severity disturbances such as partial harvests, insect herbivory, and age-related senescence. Following recovery from moderate disturbance, carbon sequestration may even increase. Mechanisms supporting such functional resilience are poorly understood, however, as most studies have focused on severe stand-replacing disturbances.

In his Research Seminar, Dr. Christopher Gough will describe work undertaken at the University of Michigan Biological Station to quantify forest production after moderate disturbance and will summarize how ongoing and forthcoming experiments will inform a new understanding of disturbance carbon cycling relationships in the Upper Great Lakes region and beyond.

Dr. Gough is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has received a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University, a Master’s Degree in forestry from Virginia Tech, and a Ph.D. in forestry from Virginia Tech. His academic interests include forest ecology, plant physiological and ecosystem ecology, carbon and nitrogen cycling, biogeochemistry, urban forestry, and tree-soil interactions.

August 1: The Surprising Evolution of Bird Nests

Tuesday, August 1, 7:30 p.m.

All-Camp Lecture, Gates Lecture Hall

Dr. Jordan Price

Passerine birds (Passeriformes) are master nest-builders. Their architectural abilities are thought to have played an important role in the evolutionary radiation of this group, which originated on the Australian continent and now comprises more than half of all bird species worldwide. Most passerines build simple open cup-shaped nests, a design we're all familiar with, but nest designs also include hanging baskets, excavated burrows, and elaborate domed structures with roofs. Nest evolution is generally assumed to have progressed from simple cups to more elaborate forms, but is that the case? 

In his talk, Dr. Jordan Price will describe the evolutionary history of passerine nests, focusing on early Australian lineages but also including species found here in Michigan. In the process, he'll explain what nest-building behavior can tell us about the evolution of behavior in general.

Dr. Price is the Steven Muller Distinguished Professor of the Sciences at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. His research integrates techniques from behavioral ecology and molecular phylogenetics to investigate the evolutionary histories of animal traits, especially the behaviors, sounds, and color patterns of birds. He received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and B.Sc.H. from Queen’s University in Canada.

Dr. Price teaches Natural History and Evolution at the University of Michigan Biological Station and is this year’s Hann Endowed lecturer.

August 2: Female Songbirds Aren't So Dull After All

Wednesday, August 2, 7:30 p.m.

Research Seminar, Alumni Room in the Gates Lecture Hall (second floor)

Researchers have long focused on why male songbirds have such colorful plumage and sing such elaborate songs, while females are relatively dull and quiet. Indeed, this sexual difference was fundamental to the formulation of Darwin’s theory of sexual selection. However, recent studies show that sexual differences in songbirds are often due to females losing these conspicuous traits rather than males gaining them. Furthermore, although male traits appear more divergent across species today, females have undergone more frequent and rapid changes in the evolutionary past. How are these new findings causing us to rethink some of Darwin's theories regarding differences between the sexes? Have we been asking the right questions?

Dr. Jordan Price is the Steven Muller Distinguished Professor of the Sciences at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. His research integrates techniques from behavioral ecology and molecular phylogenetics to investigate the evolutionary histories of animal traits, especially the behaviors, sounds, and color patterns of birds. He received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and B.Sc.H. from Queen’s University in Canada.

Dr. Price teaches Natural History and Evolution at the University of Michigan Biological Station and is this year’s Hann Endowed lecturer.

August 8: Rescuing Estuaries Around the World by Reducing Nitrogen Pollution

From Coral Reefs in Fiji to Coastlines in New England: Rescuing Estuaries Around the World by Reducing Nitrogen Pollution

Tuesday, August 8, 7:30 p.m.

All-Camp Lecture, Gates Lecture Hall

From New England to the South Sea Islands, watershed inputs of nitrogen to coastal estuaries have increased at exponential rates in the past 50 years. Estuaries critical to global fisheries and biodiversity now experience algal blooms that lead to “dead zones” and degradation of habitats such as coral reefs and sea grass beds. Seemingly simple questions like “Where should we target our control efforts?” and “What methods generate the best levels of control?” have proven to be frustratingly complex for scientists and managers. This challenge is magnified in rural settings that rely on local estuaries for their livelihoods. In these areas, site-specific data and local expertise are often scarce. 

Dr. Art Gold will draw on his research and international experiences to illustrate how recent advances in geospatial data, watershed science, and appropriate technologies can be combined to tailor tractable solutions to restore coastal waters.

Dr. Gold is the University of Michigan Biological Station’s Pentingill Endowed Lecturer this year. He is a Professor of Watershed Hydrology, the Natural Resource Program Leader, and Director of University of Rhode Island Water Quality Cooperative Extension Program at the University of Rhode Island. He is an alum of UMBS and part of the CLEAR research group. 

August 9: Aquatic Ecosystems as Nitrogen Sinks in Coastal Watersheds

Wednesday, August 9, 7:30 p.m.

Research Seminar, Alumni Room in the Gates Lecture Hall (second floor)

Dr. Art Gold will give a research talk on his work analyzing acquatic ecosystems as nitrogen sinks.

Dr. Gold is the University of Michigan Biological Station’s Pentingill Endowed Lecturer this year. He is a Professor of Watershed Hydrology, the Natural Resource Program Leader, and Director of University of Rhode Island Water Quality Cooperative Extension Program at the University of Rhode Island. He is an alum of UMBS and part of the CLEAR research group. 

Summer Lecture Series: