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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.

We are located at: 9133 Biological Rd., Pellston, MI 49769.

Our series features 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 2018 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. Richard Prum, Yale University, Hann Lecturer
  • Dr. Meghan Duffy, University of Michigan, Pettingill Lecturer
  • Dr. Rebecca Tonietto, University of Michigan - Flint, Bennett Lecturer

In addition to our endowed lectures, Dr. David Karowe (Western Michigan University and University of Michigan Biological Station) will give two all-camp lectures, offered once in the spring and once in the summer, framing climate change in the Great Lakes Region and the research happening at UMBS to address it.

Dr. Leslie Decker (Post-Doctoral Researcher, Stanford University) will also give a lecture on her recently concluded work at UMBS studying the effects of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide on the chemistry of milkweeds, and how milkweed chemistry impacts the susceptibility of monarchs to a protozoan parasite.

May 30 and June 28: How will climate change affect the Great Lakes Region?

Wednesday, May 30, and Thursday, June 28, 7:30 p.m.

Dr. David Karowe

All-Camp Lecture, Gates Lecture Hall

Dr. Karowe in the field with 2017 General Ecology students.

Dr. David Karowe will give this all-camp lecture in May and in June.

Dr. Karowe is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Western Michigan University and a long time General Ecology instructor at UMBS. Karowe and his students investigate the potential ecological consequences of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide. They focus on the ways nutritional quality and defensive chemistry of plants change under elevated CO2, and how such changes affect the growth, survivorship and behavior of insect herbivores and parasitoids. The ultimate goal of this research is to expand understanding of the ecological and evolutionary consequences of elevated CO2 to include higher trophic levels. This work has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the United States Department of Agriculture.

Dr. Karowe will focus his all-camp lectures, offered on both May 30th and June 28th, on the urgent climate change challenges facing the Great Lakes Region, and will offer an overview of related research at the Biological Station. He will provide a framework by which students, researchers, and the public can better understand UMBS's important role in addressing these challenges and protecting our precious natural resources.

June 4: Community ecology in a changing world: Lessons from the Monarch Butterfly

Monday, June 4, 7:30 p.m.

Dr. Leslie Decker

All-Camp Lecture, Gates Lecture Hall

Dr. Decker recently finished her PhD at the University of Michigan with advisor Dr. Mark Hunter where she studied the chemical ecology of the monarch butterfly in the context of environmental change. Broadly, Dr. Decker is interested in the influence of plant chemistry on multitrophic interactions under future environmental conditions.

Dr. Decker received a B.A. from Cornell University where she completed a thesis project with Dr. André Kessler investigating the effects of herbivore-mediated changes in plant drought stress responses. This coming Fall, she will start a postdoc with Dr. Tadashi Fukami examining the effects of environmental change on nectar microbial communities and consequent pollinator visitation.

July 10: The Evolution of Beauty

Tuesday, July 10, 7:30 p.m.

Dr. Richard Prum, Yale University

All-Camp Lecture, Gates Lecture Hall

Dr. Richard Prum, evolutionary ornithologist and author of "The Evolution of Beauty" (one of the New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of 2017) is giving the Hann Endowed Lecture in Ornithology at the U-M Biological Station, open to students, faculty, researchers, and the public.

In thirty years of fieldwork, ornithologist Richard Prum has seen quite a bit of ostentatious sexual display. To explain it all, he dusts off Darwin’s long-neglected theory of sexual selection, which posits that the act of choosing a mate for purely aesthetic reasons—for the mere pleasure of it—is an independent engine of evolutionary change. His The Evolution of Beauty is a fascinating mixture of biology, philosophy, sociology, and the rich story of human sexuality.

Dr. Prum received his PhD from U-M in '89, and has done research on avian phylogenetics, behavioral evolution, feather evolution and development, sexual selection and mate choice, sexual conflict, aesthetic evolution, avian color vision, structural color, carotenoid pigmentation, evolution of avian plumage coloration, historical biogeography, avian mimicry, and the theropod dinosaur origin of birds.

At Yale, Dr. Prum is the Curator of Ornithology and Head Curator of Vertebrate Zoology in the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. He teaches undergraduate courses in Ornithology and graduate seminars in macroevolution. He has previously served as Chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (2008-2011).

July 11: Decadence and duck sex

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

Dr. Richard Prum, Yale University

Research Seminar, Alumni Room (2nd Floor Gates Lecture Hall)

Dr. Richard Prum will give a focused research seminar on his work with sexual selection, conflict, decadence, resistance, aesthetic remodeling. Topics include evidence of optical illusions in the Great Argus, decadence in Club-winged Manakins, and mathematical models of the evolution of resistance (duck sex) and aesthetic remodeling (bowerbirds and canine teeth).

July 31: The value of basic scientific research: how water fleas might teach us how to fight fungal infections in people

Tuesday, July 31, 7:30 p.m.

Dr. Meghan Duffy, University of Michigan

All-Camp Lecture, Gates Lecture Hall

Dr. Meghan Duffy, Associate Professor and researcher at the University of Michigan, will give the Pettingill Endowed Lecture at UMBS.

Basic scientific research is work with no clear application to humans. Dr. Duffy's lab was carrying out basic research on diseases in aquatic ecosystems when they discovered some compounds with very strong antifungal properties. They are now working with a medicinal chemist to test whether these compounds are also effective against fungi that cause devastating diseases in humans and crops.

Dr. Duffy received her B.S. in Biological Sciences from Cornell University in 2000. After a brief stint working as a field technician in Antarctica, she moved to the Kellogg Biological Station and Michigan State University for graduate school. She received her Ph.D. in Zoology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior from MSU in 2006. From there, she moved to the University of Wisconsin for her postdoctoral research, which was supported by an NSF postdoctoral fellowship in biological informatics. From 2008-2012, she was an assistant professor in the School of Biology at Georgia Tech. She joined the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology faculty at U-M in August 2012.

August 1: What can plankton tell us about links between ecosystems & disease?

Wednesday August 1, 7:30 p.m.

Dr. Meghan Duffy, University of Michigan

Research Seminar, Alumni Room

Ecosystem properties can influence the amount of disease that occurs in a given population, and disease outbreaks can influence ecosystem properties, but our understanding of these ecosystem-disease linkages is still limited. In this talk, Dr. Duffy focus on 1) how an ecosystem property (water clarity) influences the disease dynamics in lakes, as well as on 2) how outbreaks of virulent infectious diseases can influence ecosystem properties (algal productivity) and the knock-on effects for host densities.

August 8: From green roofs to urban farms: The importance of cities for pollinator conservation

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

Dr. Rebecca Tonietto, University of Michigan - Flint

All-Camp Lecture, Gates Lecture Hall

Dr. Rebecca Tonietto, Associate Professor and pollinator researcher at the University of Michigan - Flint, will give the Bennett Endowed Lecture in Plant & Fungal Ecology at the U-M Biological Station. The lecture is open to students, faculty, researchers, and the public.


Dr. Tonietto studies native bee communities – how their diversity and structure are related to plant communities, surrounding land-use, and management – for pollinator conservation. She works at the intersection of multiple fields, but is primarily a community ecologist interested in conservation and restoration biology.

August 9: Urban agriculture supports diverse wild bee communities across shrinking cities: A tale from the Rust Belt

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

Dr. Rebecca Tonietto, University of Michigan - Flint

Research Seminar, Alumni Room (2nd Floor Gates Lecture Hall)

For her targeted seminar, Dr. Tonietto will apply the lessons from her research to a regional landscape, exploring how and why urban farms keep wild bee communities afloat (and why this matters!).

Summer Lecture Series:

Events: Summer Lecture Series