Calvert County Times September 07, 2017 - Page 12

12 Feature The Calvert County Times Thursday, September 7, 2017 Chesapeake Biological Lab Opens Doors to Public Research Conducted on the Bay, Around the World ate Professor Michael Gon- sior told the County Times during an Aug. 31 tour of the property. Gonsior’s field is organic biochemistry and he oper- ates in the Bernie Fowler Lab on campus. “We are working with chemicals and we are working with high temperatures,” he said, thus having visitors at the lab is a matter of safety. He said even visiting fac- ulty are required to have a safety briefing before work- ing in the labs. Last year for the first time CBL held an open hose and it proved successful with about 500 people showing Dr. Helen Bailey, an associate research professor, is shown with her team getting ready to deploy hydro- up for several hours on a phones which pick up clicks and sounds made by dolphins. Saturday, according to As- sistant Director of Develop- By Dick Myers Editor ment Jeane Wharton. So, they are doing it again this year, on Saturday, Sept. 9 from 1-5 p.m. It was not long after the Wright Brothers first flight, What visitors will see, according to the brochure they in 1918, that Reginald Truitt became the first person to will be given upon arrival, is “faculty and graduate stu- fly over Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay. He was so dents developing new approaches to solving the environ- awed by what he saw, particularly how the estuary was mental management problems facing Calvert County, our all connected, that he began to study it. He borrowed a nation and our world.” microscope and began to investigate the Bay’s oysters Chesapeake Biological Laboratory is one of several and crabs. labs that are part of the University of Maryland Center From that modest beginning, he eventually opened a for Environmental Science (UMCES). Although they are laboratory in 1925 that would become the first publicly part of the University of Maryland, UMCES has its own supported marine laboratory on the East Coast. That lab president and each lab has its own director. The director is still very much alive and well today. Called the Chesa- (and a professor) at CBL is Thomas Miller. He has been peake Biological Laboratory (CBL), it sits at the end of on the faculty since 1994 and was appointed director in Solomons Island in 22 buildings on eight acres. One of 2011. those buildings is named for Truitt. So, what do they do at the lab? Their focus is on three The lab is on an island that is often loaded with tourists primary research areas: ecosystem studies and restora- (and local folks). Many people drive through the campus. tion science, fisheries science, and environmental chem- Its main administration building faces the Patuxent River, istry and toxicology. with a view of the lab’s pier jutting out into the river. As The lab’s main focus is the Chesapeake Bay but they people ride through they pass old houses that are now oc- have researchers all over the world studying ecosystems cupied by CBL, as housing for students and faculty, and and other environmental issues. Even though they are labs for research. global in nature, many of those studies have application But the thing of it is that what the lab does is still not to the problems of the Chesapeake Bay, Gonsior said. well known. The lab is not open to the public. This is not In ecosystem studies, several newly-established pro- because they are trying to keep anything away from the grams focus on ecological restoration. public. They love to tell the public what they do, Associ- On fisheries research, Bay critters such as crabs, oys- The 81-foot Rachel Carson can be rigged to support a wide variety of estuarine and near-coastal ocean- ographic research projects, including dredging, trawling, coring, water quality observations, plankton sampling, and buoy deployment. ters and dolphins and other estuary inhabitants are stud- ied. Those studies serve as a “model for coastal and es- tuarine fisheries and ecosystems throughout the world.,” according to CBL’s website. In Gonsior’s field of environmental chemistry and toxi- cology, the program tracks “climate change, relevant gas- ses, quantifying persistent organic pollutants, emerging contaminants of concern, disinfection by-products and heavy metals,” according to the website. The open house is not the only opportunity for the public to visit the campus. A series called “Science for Citizens Seminars” is scheduled for Sept. 26 through Oct. 24 th on Tuesday nights from 7 to 8 p.m. You can find out more about this free series, including the topics, by going to http://bit.ly/Science4Citizens. Also, free and open to the public is a one-woman play called “A Sense of Wonder” performed by Kailulani Lee, which tells the story of Rachel Carson’s love for the natu- ral world. It will be performed Nov. 4. See http://but.ly/ Sense-of-onder The lab also offers a speaker’s bureau with experts in a number if fields covered by their work. And, you can always stop by the CBL Visitor’s Center (turn left at the traffic circle at the end of Charles St.). There are exhibits about the Chesapeake Bay and work done at CBL. Hours vary depending on the season. From September through November they are Friday, Saturday, & Sunday from 9:30am to 4:30pm. At the Sept. 9 open house visitors will be directed to nine stops on campus, including the visitor center. 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