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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, and the Biological Station.

We are located at: 9133 Biological Rd., Pellston, MI 49769. (NOTE: For 2020, all lectures will be virtual).

Speakers from all over the country and the UMBS Community are invited to participate and share their work. We encourage everyone, including our students, faculty, researchers, and the public, to attend.

All events start at 7 pm. Please join us!

ANNOUNCING: The 2020 Summer Lecture Series

Olin Sewall Pettingill (left) and colleagues.

Our endowed lectures honor former instructors at UMBS:

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

This year's endowed lecturers are:

  • Dr. Patricia Brennan, Mount Holyoke College, Hann Lecturer
  • Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Pettingill Lecturer
  • Dr. Anton Reznicek, University of Michigan Herbarium, Bennett Lecturer

The 2020 Summer Lecture Series will also feature a climate change talk from U-M Climate and Space Science and Engineering Professor and Dow Sustainability Distinguished Faculty Fellow Richard Rood.

May 14: Framing Approaches to Climate Change Problem Solving

Dr. Richard Rood

Thursday, May 14, 7:00 p.m.

Dr. Richard Rood 

Professor, U-M Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering; Dow Sustainability Distinguished Faculty Fellow

Virtual Lecture (Open to the public; Q&A session to follow)

We are in a time of rapid climate change. Though we have developed policies such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, and we have made substantial progress on the use of renewable energy, atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase. Therefore, the evidence suggests we will not disrupt the observed climate trends in the foreseeable future.

For the past decade, Dr. Rood has been part of a team of social scientists, climatologists, and practitioners focused on the usability of climate knowledge. From this work, we have developed models of engagement to advance usability. Successful use of climate knowledge, often, relies on multi-constituency problem solving with climatologists working interactively to develop meaningful fits between climate data and knowledge and the practitioner’s needs.

This talk highlights the framing of the challenges of climate change and the behavioral changes that will be required to allow us to navigate through those changes.

June 30: Dr. Patricia Brennan

Tuesday, June 30, 7:00 p.m.

Dr. Patricia Brennan, Mount Holyoke College

Virtual Lecture (Open to the public; Q&A session to follow)

Genital Evolution in Birds: Losing the Penis and Winning the Battle

Most birds do not have a penis, and most ornithologists have not thought about bird penises much. However, evolutionarily, the loss of the penis in birds is an extremely significant event: why lose an organ that seems so handy to get sperm close to female eggs? Dr. Brennan will discuss some hypotheses as to why this loss may have occurred and talk about her work describing variation in the genitalia of avian species that have retained their ancestral penis, and experimental manipulations that have revealed the surprising role of male-male competition in genital morphology. In addition, Dr. Brennan will talk about her research on how sexual conflict has driven extreme modifications of the female genital morphology in ducks, where females suffer great direct and indirect costs from forced copulations and they have evolved complex vaginas that prevent the full eversion of the penis, and reassert female control over paternity. An evolutionary arms race is playing out in the complex genitalia of waterfowl, with some species having extremely exaggerated genitalia. One possible resolution of such conflict is disarmament, and Dr. Brennan will discuss how the avian penis loss may have been driven by female choice for increased sexual autonomy, giving females the upper hand in the reproductive battle.

July 7: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha

Tuesday, July 7, 7:00 p.m.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Virtual Lecture (Open to the public; Q&A to follow)

In this talk, pediatrician and professor Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha will share her firsthand account of uncovering the Flint water crisis, one of the most emblematic public health disasters of our time. From clinician educator to detective scientist to national child advocate, Dr. Mona now works with a multidisciplinary team committed to promoted the health and neurodevelopment of Flint children and sharing best practices with similar impacted communities. Plus, she's a UMBS alum from her time as an undergraduate at University of Michigan!

July 28: Dr. Anton Reznicek

Tuesday, July 28, 7:00 p.m.

Dr. Anton Reznicek, University of Michigan Herbarium

Virtual Lecture (Open to the public; Q&A to follow)

Looking For Tomorrow Through Yesterday: What Michigan’s Flora In 1840 Can Tell Us About Our Botanical Future

It has become routine to predict the future of our biota by starting with present day distributions and broad-brush niches derived from these occurrences. Looking to the past and basing predictions on what has actually happened would seem to be very helpful in understanding the nature of the changes and refining approaches to studying change, but for plants we are typically hampered by lack of past floristic data. This is usually because we have little or no detailed information for floras before large scale European alteration of the landscape. Michigan, however, is unique in that immediately after becoming a State, in 1837, the State legislature, advised by forward thinking scientists, established the First Geological Survey of Michigan. The core idea was to produce detailed information on Michigan’s natural resources to provide a scientific foundation for the development of the State. Because at this time essentially all medicine was plant based, a detailed inventory of the Flora, supported by herbarium specimens, was a major thrust of the First Survey. Collating and studying this material laid the groundwork for understanding of our past flora in unusual depth. Three segments of this knowledge will be the primary focus. First, a review of the First Survey’s collecting activities (and those of a few other early collectors) and what we thus know about Michigan’s Flora in 1840. Second, a review of changes that have occurred that bring us, 180 years later, to the composition of our present day flora. In terms of species loss, this has been driven mostly by direct physical alteration of habitats, either complete elimination or drastic alteration of the hydrology and microhabitat conditions, especially in southern Michigan. Finally, knowing the operation of the past drivers of change, what can we infer about the changes we can expect in the
future?