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An Update From 2017 Interim Director Dr. Linda Greer:
I write as interim director of the Biological Station, serving this year while Knute Nadelhoffer is on sabbatical, and am happy to report to you that the State of the Station is strong! Student enrollment in 2017 was high, and course evaluations from the summer were stellar. Many, many students reported that the summer had been the best educational experience of their life and, as usual, they didn’t want to leave; we had to kick them out of there.
The field season of 2017 was also a banner year for research. We continued our successful conservation biology efforts for the piping plover, whose population is severely threatened in the Great Lakes region. We pressed ahead with research to elucidate the relationship between monarch butterflies and the milkweed they feed upon, and continued our work in water quality and conservation biology in the lakes and watersheds of Northern Michigan. We expanded our climate change research to elucidate carbon sequestration in northern temperate forests and the impact of forest succession on carbon and nutrient cycling. We continued our work on restoration ecology with innovative work in the Great and inland lakes. All of this work was undertaken by more than 100 research scientists and graduate students in camp this year, representing 20 colleges and universities from around the country.
This past year the Station also was awarded a Third Century Initiative (TCI) grant from the University’s Provost office of $1.5 million over five years to bring a more inter-disciplinary group of students and researchers to the Station, not just to expand its level of utilization, but to create the broader community of scholars, practitioners, and experts needed to solve the “wicked” environmental problems that we face. We hosted seven great, new short courses under this program, ranging from construction of a "green architecture" straw bale building to water law and policy. Enrollment in these classes was strong, increasing our enrollment by one-third. We look forward to a second season of similar classes in 2018.
Notwithstanding our banner year, the Station continues to face serious financial challenges, with significant infrastructure and maintenance needs along with rising tuitions challenging many students who wish to attend.
On the infrastructure side, the Station is over 100 years old and is showing its age. We need to outfit the dining hall with a new water well and backup generator, for example. We need to renovate the bathrooms in Blissville and Manville. We need new windows in Lakeside Lab. As well as other projects.
Moreover, our student scholarships have never been more important, given the extraordinary costs of college tuition today. Even the most affordable of our courses – a 4 week spring session for a Michigan in-state undergraduate – costs nearly $4000. It is heartbreaking to us to have students every year be forced to withdraw their applications once they receive our financial aid award and find it is not enough. Certainly only a very small handful of our students can afford to come back to the Station for a second time, which undercuts our impact in shaping the next generation of environmental professionals.
We need your help! Please consider a gift to our Development Fund, which lets us use your gift where we need it most. Or, review our other categories of funds (also listed above) if you prefer to more specifically direct your contribution.
On behalf of the University of Michigan Biological Station (aka “Bug Camp”), I invite all of you to return for a visit when you are able. And thank you for supporting the Station in any way you can.
Linda E. Greer