PELLSTON — University of Michigan Regents visited the school’s biological station near Pellston on Thursday to tour the facility and learn about its research and education efforts.
The regents broke into three groups; one tour learned about the history of the station and how that history informs its educational mission, the second tour learned about the station’s new and ongoing research, and the third tour learned about how the station’s research in Northern Michigan can inform local and global questions.
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The biological station is located near Pellston, on the shores of Douglas Lake, and has been in operation since 1909. The station functions as a place for researchers to conduct their work studying the ecosystem of Northern Michigan, as well as a place for students to learn and gain experience doing field research.
One of the stops for the third tour group was in the station’s UV field, an open meadow with solar panels and several devices designed for catching precipitation.
Resident biologist Adam Schubel explained to the regents how the station’s participation in the National Atmospheric Deposition Program since 1979 helped amend the Clean Air Act to include new regulatory programs for the control of acid rain.
“It’s a good example of how monitoring, especially long term monitoring, can elucidate these global trends that then inform real time policy decisions that make real differences,” said Jenny Kalejs, communications coordinator for the station.
One of the points of discussion during the tour was the outdated equipment the station uses and the need for other facilities upgrades.
“We just got confirmation from (the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts) and the provost’s office that they’re going to give us $5 million to build new cabins here,” Kalejs said. “We’re so excited about that. They’re going to be winterized, we’ll be able to do four seasons research and accommodate more of that amazing science.”
Some of the cabins on the campus have been standing since the early 1910s and currently, most of the cabins are not livable during winter. While research is still conducted in the fall and winter, the station is primarily active in spring and summer when it is warm enough to occupy the cabins.
Every May, students from U of M come to Pellston to learn and conduct research at the station in a setting similar to summer camp, but with a lot more science. The station holds two four-week terms; the spring term starting in May and the summer term starting in June.
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This year was the first time the station held the terms in-person since 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During their time at the station, students participate in various research studies, many of which are long-term data collection studies, meaning multiple generations of students work on them.
Also at the station in the spring and summer are faculty and researchers with their families. Dozens of children play and ride bikes around the campus while their parents conduct their work.
According to Kalejs, one of the station’s goals is to engage more with the local community.
“That’s something we’d love to expand. We’re pretty lean operation staff wise, so we haven’t had a ton of capacity to have a lot of programming that’s open to the public, but we have hosted open houses in the house and some different bio blitzes where we host community members,” Kalejs said.
“We also host a summer lecture series. So, we bring scientists from all over to give talks about their work and that is open to the public and we really encourage folks to come out for those kinds of programs. But we hope to expand our footprint in the community. And we also want people to know that we’re here and we want them to know that we maintain 13,000 acres around Douglas Lake and all of our trails are open to the public.”
Contact reporter Tess Ware at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter, @Tess_Petoskey