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Greetings from Douglas Lake!

This year’s UMBS Summer Lecture Series has been a revolving door of trailblazing women in science from across the country.

To name one example, Dr. Vanessa Ezenwa at Yale University, to my left in the photo, gave the Pettingill Lecture in Natural History. Her work uncovering the long-term evolutionary interaction playing out between worms and TB in buffalo in South Africa captivated our northern Michigan community. She stood before us as a scientist weaving a thrilling story with an unexpected ending. I, for one, think it would make a great book.

As you make your travel plans for next year, keep in mind that the author of an incredible new book being passed around our field station this summer has agreed to be one of our speakers in the 2024 lecture series.

I highly recommend you read Melissa Sevigny’s “Brave the Wild River” about Drs. Elzada Clover and Lois Jotter, U-M botanists who mapped the botany of the Grand Canyon in 1938. The book includes both of their ties to UMBS, including Clover’s summer lectures about her grand adventures. The book received a glowing review in the New York Times.

The date of Sevigny’s talk next year hasn’t been solidified yet, but I’ll share that with you as soon as possible. She looks forward to speaking at the Biological Station, where Clover gave lectures too. Sevigny said she had intended to visit us as part of her book research, but the pandemic upended those plans. We’re thrilled to welcome her soon to northern Michigan!

Our history constantly inspires me. One of the great joys of being a part of the UMBS family that dates back to 1909 is witnessing how past UMBS students continue to help new UMBS students.

This month’s feature story spotlights two women of two different generations connected by the CLEAR Fellowship — an incredible opportunity for experiential learning through field work and advocacy. Our ongoing connection to each other and to other organizations committed to science, education, outreach and preservation like the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council is one of our biggest strengths that will carry us to future discovery and success.

This month we welcomed our newly appointed UMBS Advisory Board to Douglas Lake. The board, comprised of all women from U-M, will bring new perspectives and ideas to the Biological Station’s research, teaching and community engagement over the next five years.

As we spotlight UMBS women of the past and present, I’d like to share some data. We’re not just talking about women more. Today’s demographics at our field station include more women.

We continue to have a large number of women taking courses at UMBS. On average 66% of the students who have taken courses since 2010 identify as non-male. Over the last five years and with the addition of our extension courses, we also had a notable increase in the number of non-male instructors —currently at 55%.

I am proud to witness the growing number of women in science and leadership. That’s something to truly celebrate.

In the whirlwind of our season of discovery, I hope you’ll join me this summer in taking time to relax in a hammock with a good book, especially in a shady spot where you can catch a nice breeze.

If you read “Brave the Wild River,” please email me your thoughts or stop by for an impromptu book club discussion along Douglas Lake. I would thoroughly enjoy it!

Read our full July 2023 UMBS Newsletter for updates on what is happening right now in our busy season of discovery. 


Dr. Aimée Classen

UMBS Director