October 25, 2014

“Discovery Day”: A Slideshow

MBLdiscovery27-web-cropOne of the highlights of the MBL’s 125th Anniversary celebration was Discovery Day on July 16, a family science fair held on MBL Street and in the Quad. A range of fun, hands-on activities were offered by the MBL’s centers, programs, courses, and individual scientists to the crowd of families and children that attended. Other highlights were the cutting of the 125th Anniversary cake by MBL President and Director Joan Ruderman, and a talk on “My Path to a Nobel Prize” by MBL Distinguished Scientist Osamu Shimomura, 2008 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.  Many thanks to all who participated!

Here is a slideshow of the day’s events by Whitney MacKenzie, the 2013 MBL Club Coordinator:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14w9yklxzRg

 

 

“On the Occasion of an Important Anniversary”

In 1899 the MBL began publishing The Biological Bulletin, a journal of biological research that MBL Director Charles Otis Whitman had launched two years earlier under the name The Zoological Bulletin. The journal has been edited at and published by the MBL every year since, through many changes in both the lab and in the biological sciences. Its current editor-in-chief, James L. Olds of George Mason University, has penned an editorial to commemorate the MBL’s 125th anniversary. Here is a preview; the editorial will be published in the next issue. (For more historical information about the Biological Bulletin, please visit the History of the MBL site).

Reference: Biol. Bull. 224: 119-240. (August 2013)

©2013 Marine Biological Laboratory

On the Occasion of an Important Anniversary

The arrival of the current issue of The Biological Bulletin marks the 125th anniversary of our publisher, The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. It also marks a new chapter for MBL as it commences an affiliation with the University of Chicago. The virtual symposium within this issue, “Cell Biology of Gametes and Embryos: Insights from Marine Invertebrates” edited by Dominic Poccia of Amherst College, represents, in every sense, a commemoration of that anniversary. Any cursory history of cell biology would reveal the MBL’s central role in some of this field’s seminal discoveries over the last century and a quarter.

small-bb.coverRecently, as I had the pleasure of sailing through Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park, with its abundant diversity of species, I thought a bit about the founding, in 1888, of the MBL: in proximity to the Gulf Stream, at the juncture of Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay, MBL enjoys a similar blessing of species diversity. The initial trajectory of the MBL took specific advantage of this species diversity, but the institution has since progressed in some very fruitful ways that go far beyond this initial advantage. At today’s MBL, you are as likely to find someone patch-clamping rodent hippocampal neurons as you are to wander past tanks of squid or sea urchins. MBL is of course unique with its long history; but it also singular, to my opinion, among America’s marine labs because of the breadth of its science, which now spans the complete realm of biological discovery.

With breadth, also comes depth. In Ecology, Microbiology, Cell Biology, and Neuroscience, just to name a few, investigators at the laboratory continue to make high-impact discoveries, a  number of which have led to a Nobel Prize. Over the years, several of those key discoveries have been published first within these pages. And beyond its contribution to research, the education programs at MBL, in particular, the summer courses, have been called a “national treasure.” Generations of biological scientists have had their careers forever altered by an MBL educational experience— and that includes myself three decades ago.

So especially here, at this time, we celebrate the 125th anniversary of MBL. As it enters a new chapter we rejoice in what promises to be an exciting future, retaining its central role as a catalyst for biological discovery, while also opening up new opportunities with one of the world’s premier research universities.

This journal, The Biological Bulletin, is also over a century old. At the ripe age of 116, we continue to reinvent ourselves, with novel forays into the open access space, position papers, and virtual symposia like the one in this issue, while at the same time maintaining the availability of our entire catalog since 1897 on-line at www.biolbull.org. Like our publisher, we have branched out significantly from the early focus on marine invertebrate models, although that biological thread remains clearly visible in every issue. Like our publisher, with breadth comes depth, as evidenced by the current virtual symposium in this issue.

As a neuroscientist, I’ve found my own interest in gamete and embryo biology. Eighteen years ago, at the MBL, we used the sea urchin oocyte model system to visualize the activation of protein kinase C in close to real time after fertilization (Olds et al., Developmental Biology 1995). PKC is an enzyme family that also plays a key role in the neurobiology of learning and memory—a topic central to my own scientific interests. For us, the sea urchin oocyte represented a robust model system in which activation was under tight spatial and temporal control. For others, the cell biology of gametes has its own intrinsic interest: these cells are at the nexus of reproduction across eukaryotes.In any case, I hope that our readers will enjoy this issue as they celebrate the institution that founded and publishes this wonderful journal.

Enjoy!

James L. Olds, Editor-in-Chief

 

MBL and Children’s School of Science: Celebrating Together

By Karen Dell

This summer marked major anniversaries for two Woods Hole institutions. In July, the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) commemorated 125 years of world-class research, while just across Eel Pond, the Children’s School of Science (CSS) celebrated 100 years of sharing the wonders of nature with children from all over the world.

Biologist Lilian Vaughan (Sampson) Morgan, an MBL investigator in the 1890s, was one of the founders of the Children's School of Science.

Biologist Lilian Vaughan (Sampson) Morgan, an MBL investigator in the 1890s, was one of the founders of the Children’s School of Science.

The histories of the MBL and CSS have been entwined by more than proximity since the Summer School Club, as CSS first was known, was established in August 1913. CSS was founded by a small group of women, many of whom had ties to the MBL. Frances Crane Lillie, the school’s first president, was a student in the MBL Embryology course in 1894 when she met her future husband and MBL director, Frank R. Lillie. Nellie Gray, the school’s first vice-president, was married to George Gray, a collector and curator in the MBL Supply Department.

Cornelia Smith Crane served as the second vice-president of the Children’s School of Science.  Her husband, Charles Crane, was a prominent Chicago businessman and a strong financial supporter of MBL, as well as president of the MBL Corporation (now called the MBL Society). Dr. Anne Leonard Loeb, wife of MBL visiting scientist and trustee Jacques Loeb, was also a member of this CSS founding group.

CSS was formed to encourage the intellectual development of Woods Hole children and to integrate and enrich the greater community. While its original program included singing and dancing, science education quickly became the focus. Lilian Vaughan Morgan, an MBL investigator and wife of Thomas Hunt Morgan, was the first chair of the school’s Science Committee. She reportedly said, “In all the science classes there will be special emphasis on work out of doors and on experiments and problems and collections made by the pupils,” a concept that has guided the school’s programs for 100 years.

Ties between the MBL and CSS remain strong 100 years later. Children of MBL investigators and summer researchers continue to delight in CSS classes and Science School benefits from the continuing generosity of MBL in providing specimens and expertise.

Students in the 2013 Advanced Entomology class at the Children's School of Science take nets to the air. Credit: Beth Armstrong

Collecting insects in the 2013 Advanced Entomology class at the Children’s School of Science. Credit: Beth Armstrong

CSS students visit the MBL Ecosystems Center, where MBL scientist J.C. Weber tells them about the Oceanic Flux project. Credit: Beth Armstrong

2013 CSS students visit the MBL Ecosystems Center, where MBL scientist J.C. Weber tells them about the Oceanic Flux Program. Credit: Beth Armstrong

Greater detail about the Children’s School of Science, its programs, and the cultural events that helped shape its history since the early 20th century can be found in Wet Sneakers & Nets: the Children’s School of Science in Woods Hole, Massachusetts Celebrates 100 Years of Summer Science Education, 1913-2013.

Happy Birthday to both the MBL and CSS, and best wishes for another 100 years of collaboration!

Karen Dell is a past member of the CSS Board and current co-chair of the school’s Curriculum Committee.

CSS assistant Jack Cummings, center, tries to catch a frog during a 2013 Animal Behavior class. Credit: Beth Armstrong

CSS assistant Jack Cummings, center, tries to catch a frog during a 2013 Animal Behavior class. Credit: Beth Armstrong

 

“My Path to a Nobel Prize”: Special Talk by Osamu Shimomura at “Discovery Day”

Osamu Shimomura, 2008 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, will give a special, family-friendly talk this Wednesday, July 17, as part of the MBL’s “Discovery Day” science fair and 125th Anniversary celebration. All “Discovery Day” events are free and open to the public. [ A video of Dr. Shimomura's lecture is posted here. ]

Dr. Shimomura’s talk, titled “My Path to a Nobel Prize,” will be 4:15 PM to 4:45 PM in Lillie Auditorium, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole.

The bioluminescent jellyfish Aequorea, source of the green fluorescent protein. Credit: Osamu Shimomura

The bioluminescent jellyfish Aequorea, source of the green fluorescent protein. Credit: Osamu Shimomura

An expert on bioluminescence in nature, Dr. Shimomura won a Nobel Prize for his discovery of “green fluorescent protein” in the jellyfish Aequorea in 1962.

This brightly glowing protein, known as GFP, “has become one of the most important tools used in contemporary bioscience. With the aid of GFP, researchers have developed ways to watch processes that were previously invisible, such as the development of nerve cells in the brain or how cancer cells spread,” the Nobel Foundation stated in announcing the prize.

Shimomura, who holds the title of MBL Distinguished Scientist, was a senior scientist at the MBL from 1982-2001, prior to his retirement.

To attend “Discovery Day” events on Wednesday, including Dr. Shimomura’s talk, the public is invited to park in the MBL’s Devil’s Lane parking lot (opposite 379 Oyster Pond Road, Woods Hole). Continuous shuttle service will be provided from 3 to 6 PM to the celebration on the MBL campus.

Osamu Shimomura in the MBLWHOI Library with a book he wrote, "Bioluminescence: Chemical Principles and Methods." Credit: Tom Kleindinst

Osamu Shimomura in the MBLWHOI Library with a book he wrote, “Bioluminescence: Chemical Principles and Methods.” Credit: Tom Kleindinst

Wonders of Art and Science Combine in Exhibit of FASEB Journal Covers at MBL

An exhibit of artistically compelling, scientifically relevant covers from The FASEB Journal, the official journal of The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, has been mounted at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in honor of the MBL’s 125th anniversary this year.

The exhibit, titled “Cover Stories: Old Archives/New Science” presents 19 cover illustrations by notables ranging from American artists Roy Lichtenstein and Maxfield Parrish to 19th-century biologist Ernst Haeckel and the Renaissance physician/cosmologist Robert Fludd.

The exhibit is curated by Ann Weissmann of New York and Woods Hole, who is the Fine Arts Editor of The FASEB Journal. “Chosen for artistic merit and scientific relevance, these [cover] images become a visual history of science,” Weissmann writes. Each cover relates to the lead research article in an issue of the journal, whose editors include several MBL scientists.

“Cover Stories: Old Archives/New Science” is the tenth in a series of fine-art exhibitions at the MBL curated by Ms. Weissmann. She draws many of her images from the Rare Books Collection of the Marine Biological Laboratory-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (MBLWHOI) Library. Other images come  from several outside sources, including the National Library of Medicine.

Left: NEPENTHACEAE, colored engraving by Ernst Haeckel, 1834-1919: Adolf Giltsch, 1852-1911, lithographer. From “Kunstformen der Natur,” Leipzig, 1904: Plate 62. Image courtesy of MBLWHOI Library. Haeckel, the famous German biologist, was an early fan of the MBL. In 1893 he wrote to MBL Founding Director Charles O. Whitman: “The erection on the North American coast of a large national marine laboratory as a common center for zoological and botanical, morphological and physiological investigations on marine organisms, has excited my keenest interest.”; Right: PUFFER FISH, copperplate engraving by Albertus Seba, 1665-1736. “Cabinet of Natural Curiosities: Thesaurus,” Amsterdam, 1734-65: Volume II: Plate 23. Image courtesy of MBLWHOI Library.

Left: NEPENTHACEAE, colored engraving by Ernst Haeckel, 1834-1919: Adolf Giltsch, 1852-1911, lithographer. From “Kunstformen der Natur,” Leipzig, 1904: Plate 62. Image courtesy of MBLWHOI Library. Haeckel, the famous German biologist, was an early fan of the MBL. In 1893 he wrote to MBL Founding Director Charles O. Whitman: “The erection on the North American coast of a large national marine laboratory as a common center for zoological and botanical, morphological and physiological investigations on marine organisms, has excited my keenest interest.”; Right: PUFFER FISH, copperplate engraving by Albertus Seba, 1665-1736. “Cabinet of Natural Curiosities: Thesaurus,” Amsterdam, 1734-65: Volume II: Plate 23. Image courtesy of MBLWHOI Library.

Weissmann’s prior exhibits at MBL have featured images from Ernst Haeckel’s celebrated book, Art Forms in Nature; the unique collection of scientific wall charts by Rudolf Leuckart; and engravings from the voyages of Captain Cook.

“Cover Stories” will be on display at the MBL through May 2014. The exhibit is free and open to the public by appointment or by chance. It hangs in the MBL’s Swope Conference Center, 5 North Street, Woods Hole. To make a viewing appointment or for more information, call 508-289-7423. This exhibit was made possible through the support of Sandy and David Bakalar.

The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is dedicated to scientific discovery and improving the human condition through research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. Founded in 1888 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, the MBL is an independent, nonprofit corporation.

The FASEB Journal is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). It is among the most cited biology journals worldwide according to the Institute for Scientific Information and has been recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century.

MBL Microbial Diversity Course to Receive “Milestones in Microbiology Site” Honor

“MBL Now” is a series of posts documenting the MBL’s 125th Anniversary year and celebrations.

The MBL Microbial Diversity course is being honored as a “Milestones in Microbiology Site” by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM).

“Milestones in Microbiology” recognizes places where major developments in microbiology occurred and/or where outstanding microbiologists made seminal discoveries.

The course will receive the “Milestones in Microbiology Site” designation on Saturday, June 22, at 4:30 PM in the MBL Club, 100 Water Street, following the Microbial Diversity Course Symposium, which is from 9 AM to 4 PM in Redfield Auditorium.

“The MBL Microbial Diversity course has trained many outstanding microbiologists from around the world, providing scientific tools that they have used to make many important discoveries,” says Stanley Maloy, a past president of ASM. “MBL has been a major place where scientists have gathered (mostly over the summer) to discuss and do research on marine biology, ecology, and development–and microbiology has influenced and been influenced by each of these areas.  MBL, including the Microbial Diversity course, has had an important impact on our understanding of the critical role that microbes play in the environment, from the characterization of microbes that use unusual sources of nutrients to the discovery of microbes that live in unique ecosystems in the depths of the ocean.”

Microbial Diversity course students sampling in Great Sippewissett Salt Marsh, Falmouth. Photo by Dan Buckley.

Microbial Diversity course students sampling in Little Sippewissett Salt Marsh, Falmouth. Photo by Dan Buckley.

The Microbial Diversity course was founded at the MBL in 1971. At the time, the MBL offered several summer courses focused on biological research, all taught by leading scientists from around the world, but it had no course in microbiology. Several prominent microbiologists at the MBL and at its neighboring organization, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), participated in the establishment of the Microbial Diversity course and its subsequent flourishing. Yet one can point to four key scientists whose contributions were essential.

The first was Holger Jannasch of WHOI, a scientific grandfather for the field of microbial ecology. At the invitation of MBL leadership, Jannasch initiated the Microbial Diversity course (then called Marine Ecology) at the MBL and gathered an elite group of instructors for the first session. The course was an instant success.

The next two scientists who were vital to the course’s success were Selman and Byron Waksman. Selman had been a microbiologist and trustee at WHOI, and he recognized the importance of the Microbial Diversity Course. At a key time when it might have ended due to lack of funding, he stepped forward to offer support from the Waksman Foundation for Microbiology, which he had founded a year before his 1952 receipt of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. After Selman’s death, his son, Byron, helped to realize the foundation’s support of the course.

The fourth key scientist was Harlyn Halvorson, who succeeded Jannasch as the course’s director in 1981. Halverson had been introduced to the MBL by his father, H. Orin Halvorson, a noted microbiologist. Harlyn continued Jannasch’s course model of collecting a group of internationally recognized microbiologists to serve as course faculty. He also secured continued financial support for the course through a variety of granting agencies. (Halverson later served as MBL director from 1987 to 1991.)

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Artist Merry Buckley’s rendering of the “Volta experiment” that will decorate the ASM’s “Milestones in Microbiology” plaque honoring the Microbial Diversity course. For the Volta experiment (a storied course tradition), the students walk to a Woods Hole swamp one evening, wade in and stir up the bottom sediment, which causes ignitable methane gas to bubble up to the surface. The experiment is named after Alessandro Volta, the Italian physicist who first described methane in 1776-78.

One strength of the MBL summer courses, including Microbial Diversity, is that every four or five years, new directors bring a fresh approach and a new set of tools to the course.

“Each year, the course has a different ‘menu,’ because during the winter months, the directors become ‘chefs,’ developing elaborate plans for each microbial ‘feast of the week’ during the [course], deciding which areas to feature and whom to invite for the 20 or more guest lectures,” writes Ralph S. Wolfe in a history of the course (“The modern Microbial Diversity summer course at Woods Hole and others like it remain true to the van Niel legacy,” ASM’s Microbe magazine, September 2008).

“For student research projects, Sippewissett salt marsh [in Falmouth], one of the best studied such marshes in the world, provides one source of diverse microbiological materials,” Wolfe writes. “Oyster Pond Inlet, fronting Vineyard Sound, provides a brackish niche from which to isolate other marine species… In addition, live sea animals are maintained and cultured in a special facility where seawater is pumped continuously to laboratories. Manufacturers of scientific equipment provide their latest-model instruments for students to use in their experiments. In such an environment, research projects may be limited only by the imagination of the student.”

The Microbial Diversity course has shaped the careers of generations of outstanding microbiologists, and continues to be a premier site for advanced training at the leading edge of microbiological investigation. In addition to Jannasch and Halvorson, course directors over the years have included Ralph Wolfe, E. Peter Greenberg, Martin Dworkin, John Breznak, Edward Leadbetter, Abigail Salyers, Caroline Harwood, Alfred Spormann, William Metcalf, Thomas Schmidt, and current co-directors Daniel Buckley and Stephen Zinder.

An Invitation to Participate in Discovery Day

“MBL Now” is a series of posts documenting the MBL’s 125th Anniversary year and celebrations. Check back often for new entries!

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As part of the MBL’s 125th Anniversary celebration, a family science fair called Discovery Day will be held on July 17 (the date of the MBL’s dedication in 1888). From 3 to 5:30 PM, MBL scientists and students will offer family-friendly, curiosity-provoking, hands-on science demonstrations all along MBL Street and in the Quadrangle. If you would like to explore the possibility of hosting a demo booth at Discovery Day, please contact Susan Joslin (sjoslin@mbl.edu or 508-289-7281) by May 24. This is a great opportunity to share the wonder and excitement of science with the MBL community!

 

Discovering the MBL at his Great-Aunt’s Side

“MBL Then” is a series of brief features based on the recollections of MBL community members. Check back often for new entries!

Ida Hyde at the MBL, circa 1891. In front of her is MBL Director C.O. Whitman.

Ida Hyde at the MBL, circa 1891. In front of her is MBL Director C.O. Whitman.

I first heard about the MBL from my great-aunt, Ida H. Hyde, who was among the first female professional scientists. Ida studied with Jacques Loeb and Thomas Hunt Morgan at Bryn Mawr in the early 1890s, which is also when she also began coming to the MBL in summers. (The MBL was her paradise, as she told me when I was a boy.) She earned her Ph.D. from Heidelberg University in 1896 and went on to found and chair the Physiology Department at the University of Kansas.

Ruth Sager, former chief of cancer genetics, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Ruth Sager, former Chief of Cancer Genetics, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Arthur B. Pardee, Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Emeritus, Harvard Medical School

Arthur B. Pardee

I took the MBL Physiology course in the late 1940s when George Wald of Harvard University was instructing—a fine experience. Later I helped teach this course, and came back to Woods Hole many summers. I became acquainted there with the late Ruth Sager, an outstanding scientist, and we married in the early 1970s. The home Ruth bought on Oyster Pond is now the summer home I share with my present wife, Ann Goodman, whom I also met in Woods Hole.

– Arthur B. Pardee, Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Emeritus, Harvard Medical School