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James Smithson Fellows Tour SERC!

Posted on Jul 24, 2017 by in The OFI Blog |

Left to right: Alex Capobianco, OFI Program Assistant and James Smithson Fellows: Jeremy Feinberg, Dara Satterfield & Karin Burghardt ready to set out on a canoe tour at SERC

On Friday 7/21/17, three of the 2016 James Smithson Fellows, Karin Burghardt, Jeremy Feinberg and Dara Satterfield, went to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) for a canoe tour of Muddy Creek and the Rhode River to learn about many of the on-site environmental studies being conducted there. Knowledgeable and helpful, the SERC guides pointed out the marsh grasses and explained how they slow erosion and filter the water runoff. The Fellows paddled up to the site of the longest running carbon dioxide study in the world. There, they learned how the study explores the effects of carbon dioxide on marsh grasses and plant growth and how data from this study helps SERC scientists predict the future impacts of global warming.

The canoe tour also took the Fellows through the Fish Weir. Since 1983 SERC scientists have been catching, counting and measuring fish, crabs and other organisms at the Fish in order to study migration patterns.

During the canoe tour Fellows also saw different organisms, such as sea nettles, butterflies, water snakes, and Ospreys diving for fish. The tour group learned about the James Smithson Fellows’ research and how it relates to much of what is studied at SERC.

After the canoe tour, Dan Gustafson (SERC Intern Coordinator) gave the Fellows a private tour of the 92,000 square foot LEED-Platinum Charles Mathias building to see the state-of-the-art laboratory space. The Fellows learned about the building’s on-site solar energy production, geothermal heating and cooling, water reclamation system and storm water management wetlands.

There was plenty of time to ponder over lunch the important research going on at SERC and the beautiful setting as well as possible explanations to the missing parts of Jeremy’s recording equipment that he left in a remote area to record frog calls. It was eventually agreed that some very smart frogs might have been the culprits but not so smart that they are downloading Jeremy’s research in hopes of publishing his results before he does.

Thanks to all those who made this informative and enjoyable tour possible especially Karin Burghardt, Karen McDonald and Dan Gustafson.