“This is the type of educational experience we’d like all of our students to have,” says University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts Dean Andrew Martin of the Biological Station. He visited the Station July 16-18, 2015. This was his first trip to the station since beginning his position in July, 2014.

Speaking to over 200 assembled diners his first night in camp, Martin said the U-M Biological Station (UMBS) is “one of the truly unique scientific and educational gems in the United States.” He praised the way UMBS combines cutting-edge research by scientists from around the world with experiential and engaged student learning.

These combined strengths were on display the following day when UMBS Director Knute Nadelhoffer took Martin and his daughter Olive on a morning tour of the station. They started with a climb to the top of the 100-foot PROPHET (Program for Research on Oxidants: PHotochemistry, Emissions and Transport) tower guided by atmospheric chemist Steve Bertman, a station researcher and professor at Western Michigan University.  

Martin next visited the UMBS Ameriflux core site, where Nadelhoffer and UMBS scientist Christoph Vogel, described how instruments on this 150 foot “carbon flux” tower track the net uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the surrounding forest. Vogel and Nadelhoffer explained associated research focused on how forests are removing and storing the about 1/5 of human-derived carbon dioxide emissions.

They then toured the station’s 24,000 square foot, year-round Stockard Laboratory and culminated with a visit to “butterfly hill,” a clearing just south of the station’s main campus. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) Professor Mark Hunter and EEB graduate student Leslie Decker described their long-term study of the interactions between Monarch butterflies, milkweed species (from which Monarchs obtain defense chemicals and medicines), and Monarch parasites.  

Martin also attended the summer meeting of the station’s External Advisory Board. He told this group of alumni, neighbors and friends of the station that “UMBS provides unique opportunities for students to advance their problem solving skills by combining experiential learning, interactions with faculty mentors, and participation in on-going field-based research.”