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January 2024

Happy New Year!

To launch 2024, the University of Michigan Biological Station is kicking off the development of a five-year strategic plan to guide our trajectory as we build the field station of the future. This stems from the successful conclusion of our self-study and external review process — our first in more than 10 years.

The glowing and insightful feedback from the team of experts across the country and the U-M College of LSA gives us great excitement to move forward with confidence and advance our efforts to take UMBS carbon neutral, expand to year-round educational programming, grow and strengthen our research community and address new cabin and facilities needs for our next 100 years.

In the external review, the team of experts wrote:

“The University of Michigan has an opportunity to create a unique, globally recognized biological station. Consider this: The review committee whose members, collectively, have worked at and closely interacted with many such stations could not identify one that simultaneously has maintained and sustained both an exceptional undergraduate education program and a continuous track record of high-impact research. However, we are convinced that UMBS can do both.

In the College of LSA leadership’s response to the report, the dean wrote:

“It is clear that the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) is in excellent hands. What you and your team have accomplished in the last three years is truly remarkable.”

Armed with recommendations to build on, the UMBS staff and Advisory Committee will work together to define clear goals and strategies to drive the next five years of decision-making, meet benchmarks and continue our positive momentum.

With your transformational support, we will accelerate our work to seek solutions to the critical environmental challenges of our time and train the next generation of environmental problem solvers.

In this first month of an invigorating new year, I’m also thrilled to unveil a new community resource at the field station that you can use from anywhere in the world: the Snowpack Dashboard.

Our research group led by Karin Rand activated a new sensor that measures how much snow is on the ground every hour at the Biological Station. We’re using it to strengthen our snow science as winters are changing across the Midwest and U.S. with more rain-on-snow weather events. Karin had a great trip up to UMBS to install the new sensors and we are excited to share her trip and the snow monitoring dashboard with you all.

Thank you to the Digital Water Lab led by Dr. Branko Kerkez in the U-M College of Engineering for allowing us to use the sensor node they designed to monitor river depth in watersheds across the state. I hope to build on this University research collaboration as we expand our study of precipitation patterns, shrinking snowpack and the impact on forests, food and water resources across the region.

Looking forward, we have several important deadlines coming up for the 2024 field season.

Research proposals and fellowship applications both for scientists and graduate students are due by Feb. 1. The opportunities for research are limitless in northern Michigan. We welcome scientists around the world to bring their research programs here. Please spread the word.

We also offer undergraduate student research fellowships. Applications are due by Feb. 15 for the CLEAR Fellowship (aquatic ecology and advocacy) and the Bach-Hazlett Fellowship (ecology and behavior).

We are busy enrolling students in four-week spring and summer courses at UMBS. The priority deadline for course applications and scholarships is March 15. We welcome all majors from all accredited universities to earn credits and explore northern Michigan. No prior field experience is required. Jump in! I promise that this place alters the way you see the world and prepares you to enter any career with the mindset of an environmental problem solver.

If you know a student who would enjoy the experience of living and learning at our field station in the Northwoods, please encourage them to attend our Jan. 31 Information Session on Zoom. Staff and recent UMBS alumni are eager to answer questions and talk about cutting-edge educational programming (like using CRISPR in the Eco-Evo-Devo classroom), course credits, research opportunities, housing, dining, social events and laundry.

Speaking of daily logistics, we revamped our Student Life at the Station web page to help navigate common questions.

I have one more deadline to cover. This one is for artists. Applications are open for 2024 artist residencies at UMBS. Proposals for a live-in residency in June or July are due by March 15.

This is an exciting time to join the UMBS scientific community. In our second century of research, education and scientific discovery, we are building the field station of the future with plans to go carbon neutral and expand to year-round educational programming. Thank you for your support.

If you live up North or you’re going to be there sometime this winter, you’re welcome to visit the field station and use the cross-country ski and snowshoe trails.

If you’re planning ahead to the spring and summer, please take a look at our 2024 Summer Lecture Series. We’re excited to see you at any and all of the free, public lectures every Wednesday at 7 p.m. (To avoid confusion, we do not plan to deviate from the set calendar schedule this year.) The scope and diversity of topics are mind blowing. Please plan to join us!

Read our full January 2024 Newsletter to read more stories and watch a video where you can hear ice freezing on Douglas Lake.


Dr. Aimée Classen