Though we are sunk in the depths of winter, it’s not too early to be contemplating plans for the summer. This year, our intrepid gull research/harassment team will be out at the Shoals Marine Lab on Appledore Island seeking out banded gulls and banding the unbanded for Julie Ellis’ ongoing study of gull ecology. Our first customary stint is in May when the birds are arriving and setting up housekeeping, and we are pulling together plans and people for that week. Right now, it looks like we will be able to offer slots to three undergraduates on the team, including two from North Shore Community College in Massachusetts where I teach. I am strongly committed to broadening access to field biology experiences to my college population, who have, by and large, never had an opportunity like this. I will be inviting student applications soon and reviewing the candidates. I know they (and I) will be very grateful for the incredible support and generosity of the donors who pay their way on the island.
Shoals Marine Lab itself is undergoing some changes, and a major one has just been announced. New Director Jennifer Seavey will be taking over supervision of the lab, leaving behind her current gig at Seahorse Key Marine Lab in Florida. We’re excited to see what the future looks like under this new leadership. There is a strong contingent of faculty, staff and researchers at Shoals who want to make it more inclusive, bringing in students from more schools and more diverse backgrounds than the traditional population of mainly Cornell and University of New Hampshire, which jointly administer the Lab. I look forward to helping in some way with that mission and will keep you posted on the goings-on. And of course, you can be assured of a blog post or two in May featuring windswept rocky crags and eager undergrads scanning the horizon for birds while being pelted with feces.