Coastal Studies Symposium Previews Summer Research, Marine Lab Expansion

Coastal Studies Center director David Carlon introduces the Summer 2014 Research Symposium

Coastal Studies Center director David Carlon introduces the Summer 2014 Research Symposium

Summer may be a break from classes, but right now things are busier than ever at Bowdoin’s Coastal Studies Center: students and faculty have launched into scientific research projects investigating green crabs, blue mussels, lobsters, sea stars, eelgrass, fish, clams, and more. This week they converged to share their research with each other and with visiting audience members during the Coastal Studies Summer 2014 Research Symposium.

To watch the presentations, click here.

Held at the Coastal Studies Center farmhouse on the edge of Harpswell Sound, the one-day symposium included nearly two dozen research presentations by 15 students and seven faculty members from several departments and programs.

Their topics ranged from studies that use marine organisms as models for understanding fundamental biological processes – locomotion in sea stars, for instance, or cardiac neural control in lobsters – to investigations of how coastal organisms and ecosystems are responding to environmental shifts such as rising ocean temperature and acidity.

lobster (Illustration credit: Abby McBride)

Illustration credit: Abby McBride

In his introductory remarks, Coastal Studies Center director and Associate Professor of Biology David Carlon described not only the ecological changes that are taking place in the Gulf of Maine but also the changes in store for the Center and its on-site Marine Lab.

“The lab is growing already,” Carlon said, with new dry- and wet-lab spaces scheduled to open in time for classes this fall, not to mention the pending acquisition of a new research vessel that will join the R/V Laine at the Coastal Studies Center dock. In the works is a marine science semester targeted at juniors and seniors, planned for fall 2015.

Following Carlon’s introduction, faculty members from Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Oceanographic Science, and Environmental Studies described their research and shared perspectives from their areas of expertise, while students supported by summer research fellowships reported on progress they’ve made so far and previewed their plans for the rest of the summer, opening up the floor for questions after each talk.

These students and faculty are making use of field sites throughout Maine and beyond, with a concentration of activity at the Coastal Studies Center itself, only twelve miles from Bowdoin’s campus – where they can take advantage not only of aquarium tanks and other laboratory facilities, but also the natural lab that is Harpswell Sound.

One such researcher is Aidan Short ’15, who embarks from the Center on two voyages each week, working with Carlon to investigate the feeding habits of green crabs (an invasive species that may be threatening one of Maine’s largest fisheries, soft-shell clams). Stay tuned to learn more about Short’s research project and other goings-on at the Coastal Studies Center as the summer unfolds.

thumb:Starry NIght by Vincent van Gogh