PELLSTON—The University of Michigan Biological Station, an 11,000-acre research and teaching campus just south of the Mackinac Bridge on Douglas Lake, will host experts from across the country as part of its 2023 Summer Lecture Series.

Featured mostly on Wednesday evenings, topics range from “slow birding” and scientific art to Indigenous science and the Northern Lights. 

The community is invited to the free, public events at the U-M Biological Station, located at 9133 Biological Rd. in Pellston. Lectures will take place outdoors under a large tent along the shore. 

For 114 years, students, faculty and researchers from around the globe have studied and monitored the impact of environmental changes on northern Michigan ecosystems. The U-M Biological Station is one of the nation’s largest and longest continuously operating field research stations.

“We are honored to welcome an incredible lineup of distinguished scientists and artists to our historic, world-class field station,” said Dr. Aimée Classen, director of the U-M Biological Station and a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutional Biology. “Families are always invited to visit and explore our exciting work, but on summer evenings they also have the opportunity to hear directly from leading experts in the U.S. focused on critical environmental issues and learn how the science impacts all of us.”

Scientists from Yale University, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Stanford University, Loyola University Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis, the Nature Conservancy, Lake Superior State University and the University of Michigan are visiting the Douglas Lake campus.

Events are from 7 to 8 p.m. through August. Speakers include: 

  • Wednesday, June 14: Dr. Vanessa Ezenwa, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale University and an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellow, will give the Pettingill Lecture in Natural History. Her talk is titled “Worms, Germs and Buffalo: A Coinfection Story.” Ezenwa studies the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases in wild animal populations, such as deer, gazelle and buffalo. Her lab work explores interesting questions such as whether group living and migration increase or decrease the negative effects of parasites in the wild.
  • Wednesday, June 21: Leslie Sobel, a mixed media environmental artist from Ann Arbor, is an artist in residence at the U-M Biological Station in June. She connects climate, water and data through art. Her lecture is titled “Artist in the Wilderness: Field Work and Art Making.”
  • Thursday, June 22: Ross Ellet, a meteorologist at the ABC affiliate in Toledo, Ohio, and a space weather expert, will discuss geomagnetic storms, aurora borealis and how to best photograph the Northern Lights, even if you only have an iPhone. He produces a weekly segment called “Spacing Out” that focuses on night sky highlights and publishes a weekly Great Lakes aurora forecast each Thursday. An aurora chaser, Ross has traveled to the arctic of Alaska and a variety of locations in northern Michigan, southern Canada and northern Manitoba to photograph the Northern Lights.
  • Wednesday, June 28: Dr. Robin Clark, an assistant professor at Lake Superior State University, plans to talk about northern white cedar trees, or “Giizhik,” their projected decline, and Indigenous knowledge and practices that can inform forest management and growth. Her talk is titled “Weaving Anishinaabe and Western Sciences for Long-term Giizhik Relations: Process and Patterns.”
  • Wednesday, July 5: Dr. Joan Strassmann, an evolutionary biologist, U-M Biological Station alumna, the Charles Rebstock Professor of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis, member of the National Academy of Sciences and author of “Slow Birding: The Art and Science of Enjoying Birds in Your Own Backyard,” will give the Hann Endowed Lecture in Ornithology. She will explain the fascinating world of common, everyday birds, such as blue jays, cardinals, robins and sparrows.
  • Wednesday, July 26: Dr. Melissa Duhaime is an assistant professor in the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and instructor of “Microbes in the Wild” at the U-M Biological Station. She will explore the fascinating world of viruses and microplastics.
  • Tuesday Aug. 8: Dr. Jennifer Pett-Ridge, a senior staff scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, will give the Bennett Lecture in Mycology and Plant Biology. Pett-Ridge, a leading soil scientist, examines natural land solutions and emerging carbon-friendly technologies designed to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Her talk will highlight her work building interdisciplinary teams to shed light on how soil organisms impact the global carbon cycle.

For a full list of speakers in the Summer Lecture Series or more information about the campus in the Northwoods, visit the U-M Biological Station website.