PELLSTON, Mich. — The University of Michigan Biological Station, a more than 10,000-acre research and teaching campus along Douglas Lake just south of the Mackinac Bridge, will host distinguished scientists, artists and authors from across the U.S. as part of its 2024 Summer Lecture Series.

Featured on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. from May 29 through July 31 at the U-M campus in northern Michigan, topics include the evolution of foraging traits in hummingbirds, the thrilling adventures of U-M botanists who braved the Grand Canyon in 1938, environmental mercury toxicity, and Indigenous languages and grammatical gender.

The community is invited to the free, public events at the U-M Biological Station, located at 9133 Biological Rd. in Pellston. The talks will take place in Gates Lecture Hall.

“We are proud to welcome a spectacular lineup of dynamic speakers to our field station who will open windows into our natural world and ignite discussions,” said Dr. Aimée Classen, director of the U-M Biological Station and a professor in the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. “Families are always invited to visit and use our beautiful trails, 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.”

Summer Lecture Series Lineup:

Dr. Tadashi Fukami, Stanford University
  • May 29: Bennett Lecture in Mycology and Plant Biology: “Alternative Community States in Floral Microbes.” Dr. Tadashi Fukami, a professor of biology and Earth system science at Stanford University, is an ecologist known for exploring complex plant and animal communities with small-scale experiments. At Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve in California, he studies the interactions between sticky monkey flowers, the hummingbirds and insects that pollinate them, and the colonies of microbes that live in the nectar of these flowers.
Melissa Sevigny, author, and her book cover
  • June 5: “Michigan Botanists Brave the Grand Canyon.” Melissa Sevigny is a science journalist at KNAU (Arizona Public Radio) and author of the award-winning book “Brave the Wild River: The Untold Story of Two Women Who Mapped the Botany of the Grand Canyon.” The book features the grand adventures of Drs. Elzada Clover and Lois Jotter, two pioneering U-M botanists who frequented the Biological Station throughout their careers. The two trailblazing women in science took a historic boat trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in 1938 to record the plants that lived along what was then the most dangerous river in the world. The book also is available for purchase in the UMBS administrative office.
Dr. Matthew Rand, University of Rochester
  • June 12: “Environmental Mercury Toxicity: Lessons from History, Hair, Microbes and Flies." Dr. Matthew Rand is an ecotoxicologist who studies mercury toxicity. The associate professor of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry has done innovative work regarding environmental mercury toxicity and the developmental effects of mercury exposure on animals. Much of his research has focused on methylmercury (MeHg), a ubiquitous environmental contaminant and high-priority toxicant of great concern to human and wildlife health. His overall approach has been to investigate the underlying molecular, genetic and developmental mechanisms that give rise to traits of resistance and susceptibility toward MeHg.
Vera Ting, illustrator and fine artist
  • June 19: “Art and Ecology: The Intersection of Field Exploration and Creative Practice.” Vera Ting, an illustrator and fine artist with a background in avian biology and ecology, is an Artist in Residence at UMBS this year. The U-M and UMBS alumna was part of a research team at UMBS in 2021 studying avian brain activity during spring migration. Most recently at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, she uses art and storytelling to explore the delicate balance between ecological communities and the impermanence of living things.
Dr. Kerri Crawford, University of Houston
  • June 26: Bennett Lecture in Mycology and Plant Biology: “Plant-Microbe Interactions in a Changing World.” Dr. Kerri Crawford is an associate professor of biology and biochemistry at the University of Houston. Her research focuses on understanding the consequences of global changes for ecological communities with a particular emphasis on the role plant-microbe interactions play in structuring plant communities. Crawford studies how diverse ecological communities form and what function diversity plays in ecological processes. She addresses how interactions among plants and between plants and other above- and below-ground organisms shape communities and mediate ecosystem functions.
Dr. Madeleine Wattenberg, Lakeland University
  • July 3: "Queer Clearings: Gender, Nature, Poetry." Dr. Madeleine Wattenberg, an award-winning poet and assistant professor of writing at Lakeland University, is an Artist in Residence at UMBS this year and the author of “I/O” from University of Arkansas Press. Her poetry has appeared in journals including the Kenyon Review, Poetry, The Rumpus, sixth finch, Fairy Tale Review, Mid-American Review, Guernica, Best New Poets, and Poetry Daily. Her scholarship focuses on ecopoetics, queer ecocriticism and feminist poetics.
Dr. Cherry Meyer, University of Michigan
  • July 10: “What the Animacy Distinction (Grammatical Gender) May or May Not Reveal about Nishnaabe Worldview.” Dr. Cherry Meyer, an assistant professor in the Departments of American Culture and Linguistics at the University of Michigan, is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of the Chippewa Indians and a linguist working with the Ojibwe language. Meyer also is part of the core faculty in the U-M Program in Native American Studies. Her research interests include language documentation and revitalization, semantics, morphology, noun categorization, grammatical gender and classifiers.
Dr. Gideon Bradburd, University of Michigan
  • July 17: “Ancestry, Genetics, Geography and You.” Dr. Gideon Bradburd, assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan, studies the geography of evolution: reconstructing how and where evolutionary events happened, as well as studying how evolutionary processes are affected by geography. He and his lab develop computational and statistical methods for learning about the fundamental forces generating and maintaining those spatial patterns of genetic variation.
Dr. Matt McCary, Rice University
  • July 24: Pettingill Endowed Lecture in Natural History: "Aquatic Insects Transform Terrestrial Ecosystems: Lessons from Subarctic Iceland." Dr. Matt McCary is an assistant professor of BioSciences at Rice University. McCary studies the relationship between soil biodiversity and ecosystem functioning within the context of global change. His multidisciplinary research program includes observational and experimental studies, mathematical and statistical modeling, and molecular techniques. The questions he investigates involve invasive species and urbanization.
Dr. Noah Whiteman, University of California, Berkeley
  • July 31: Hann Endowed Lecture in Ornithology: “How the Early Bird Catches the Worm: Co-evolution Between Migratory Behavior and Beak Morphology in Hummingbird.” Dr. Noah Whiteman is a professor of integrative biology and molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Essig Museum of Entomology. He studies the ancient battles in Darwin’s “war of nature,” where many of the chemicals we use and abuse were made. The evolutionary biologist is the author of the book “Most Delicious Poison: The Story of Nature's Toxins — from Spices to Vices.”

This year we also are taking our Summer Lecture Series on the road in collaboration with community partners.

  • Tuesday, June 4, at 6 p.m. at Charlevoix Public Library, located at 220 Clinton St. in Charlevoix, Michigan. “Michigan Botanists Brave the Grand Canyon” with author Melissa Sevigny. Read the UMBS news story: Author to Speak Across Northern Michigan About U-M Botanists Who Braved the Grand Canyon.
  • Monday, July 15, at 7 p.m. at Headlands International Dark Sky Park, located at 15675 Headlands Rd. in Mackinaw City, Michigan. “See the Northern Lights! Make Your Dream a Reality” with aurora chaser, photographer and WTVG-TV meteorologist Ross Ellet. View the Facebook event.

For 115 years, students, faculty and researchers from around the globe have studied and monitored the impact of environmental changes on northern Michigan ecosystems. Founded in 1909, the U-M Biological Station is one of the nation’s largest and longest continuously operating field research stations. 

Laboratories and cabins are tucked in along Douglas Lake to support long-term climate research and education.

The core mission of the Biological Station is to advance environmental field research, engage students in scientific discovery and provide information needed to understand and sustain ecosystems from local to global scales. In this cross-disciplinary, interactive community, students, faculty and researchers from around the globe come together to learn about and from the natural world and seek solutions to the critical environmental challenges of our time.