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July 2022

There are leaves on the trails that have hints of fall color and the population of station kids zipping around on bikes has dwindled from over 20 to around a dozen. The energy is shifting at UMBS and while there is still summer left, many of the 160 researchers and 163 undergraduate have come and gone – their summer endeavors continuing a century-long legacy of scientific work, and contributing novel solutions to global problems.

In addition to all the science, we hosted a visit from the U-M Regents and received some exciting news about the future of UMBS facilities. The U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and the Provost’s Office have developed a 3-phase, 5-year capital plan to address UMBS’s most critical infrastructural and programmatic needs, and create opportunities for leadership in carbon neutrality and ecological conservation. 

Phase one will include infrastructure updates — water, sewer, electric — that allow UMBS to expand our operating season through year-round housing. Phase two will make the camp carbon neutral, including building electrification with air source heat pumps, energy efficiency upgrades, and a 400-kilowatt solar array. Phase three will construct a new teaching and research and community-engagement center that will provide a flexible inclusive space, a place to engage with the local community, and modern teaching and lab facilities.

What does this mean for the station? These upgrades will make the station more sustainable and allow more students and researchers to live and learn at UMBS, for longer. This means more wonder, more discovery, and more solutions to the environmental crises that threaten our health and natural resources. Of course, we plan on preserving the history and wonder of this place with all the changes we are making on campus. We are excited for the journey and look forward to engaging in and sharing the process with all of you as it unfolds.

The newsletter this month highlights some of the UMBS masters students who will benefit from the new station infrastructure. These students – one from Concordia in Canada, one from UM-Flint and one from UM-Ann Arbor underscore the diversity of interests and projects taking place this summer. Their research has been transformed by being part of our community. I’m excited for you to read about their experiences.

Please keep in touch.

Dr. Aimée Classen

UMBS Director


PS – I wanted to close with a bit of fun science from our very own resident biologist, Adam Schubel. Adam led an iNaturalist challenge at the station this summer. If you haven’t engaged with iNaturalist, I’d encourage you to download the app on your phone. It’s a great way for the station to come up with species lists and observations across a growing season, and as you can see from Adam’s message it has been wildly successful bringing some data, a little friendly competition and a lot of wonder to the station this year. Adam said it best:

“Unknown to most, Northern Michigan has been the setting of a FURIOUS COMPETITION over the past week with leaders NECK AND NECK and ending in a DEAD SPRINT. Fans have been STUNNED as project leaders quadrupled their rates of observations in recent days. We are BLOWN AWAY that our community of 66 observers accumulated a total of nearly 10,000 observations of 1,871 species in Northern Michigan over the past four weeks.

And now for the results...making a surprise ascent to the lead position in recent days, the eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) overtook the green frog (Lithobates clamitans) and the red oak (Quercus rubra) as our most observed species. Congratulations eastern chipmunk! 

With an astounding 1,886 observations ena_humphries overtook mdhamja (1,601) and peter_falb (1,317) to claim the honor of most observations. In a slight reconfiguration, these observers took the top three positions in species observed. With 762 species, Spring Term champion peter_falb observed the most species followed by ena_humphries with 665 and mdhamja with 403. Congratulations to these leaders and to you all for your impressive efforts. And thanks for contributing to our records of regional biodiversity. You can see project stats here.”